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Zimbabwe Through the Eyes of a Local Foreigner

Zimbabwe Through the Eyes of a Local Foreigner
In times of darkness, some positivity will never cease to shine. With nearly every news outlet breaking the latest news about Miss ‘Rona (COVID-19), I thought it imperative to deviate from the sad news. So why not talk about Zimbabwe?  […]

In times of darkness, some positivity will never cease to shine. With nearly every news outlet breaking the latest news about Miss ‘Rona (COVID-19), I thought it imperative to deviate from the sad news. So why not talk about Zimbabwe? 

When I heard that I’d be moving to Zimbabwe, I wasn’t happy about it. Never in my years in this world had I ever heard anything positive about this country, in fact, Zimbabwe almost seemed like a myth, a fable. If misconstrued was a country, it would have to be this one.

I assure you; it’s not as scary as it may seem when you read or hear about it!

I started painting my nonexistent version of Zimbabwe in my Development Studies class when we watched documentaries about a great country that seemed to be headed towards a downwards spiral. Alas, the documentary did nothing good for me, I really did think I would soon be living in a country that’s in ruins. Who wouldn’t panic at the sight of houses being destroyed, extreme poverty, and talk about people literally disappearing? It sounds like a blockbuster waiting to happen, but I can confirm that Zimbabwe is actually not what it seems. At all. 

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Don’t get me wrong, like every other country in the world, there are places which aren’t developed as others or as aesthetically pleasing…but there is something to admire about a Zimbabweans’ way of life- the way they grind and hustle anywhere and everywhere serves as proof that this is a country of hard workers. 

Avondale Flea Market

A clothes and craft flea market in Avondale, Harare. Image from myguidezimbabwe.com

Looking back, my fear was somewhat ridiculous and uncalled for. 

Regardless of how you cross into Zimbabwe for the very first time, its beauty will take your breath away. My first time was through flying; about half an hour or so before landing, I looked out the little window on the plane -which I didn’t entirely trust due to the weird sound I’d hear after some turbulence- and I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was green, and not just any green, I mean a deep and luscious forest green that had me completely mesmerized. I have an affinity for nature – I cried at some point when I went for Victoria Falls for the first time – and I think trees are beautiful so to say I was shook is an understatement. I mean, where were the ruins? The rusty and musty Zimbabwe I saw on the documentaries? 

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The first time we drove into Harare was just as shocking as the aerial view. I didn’t expect to see modern tall buildings mixed in with old colonial buildings that look like they belong in the French Quarter in Louisiana. Every time I pass by them, I can’t help but think of the show, The Originals. The contrast between old and new perfectly depicts the progressiveness of the city in the most beautiful way and to this day, I always look up in awe when I come into town. By the way, to get a real glimpse of Harare, even if it’s just once, use a kombi. I assure you that it is quite an experience like no other. 

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Harare Kombis/iharare Image

Furthermore, Zimbabwe actually has seasons. Where I come from, we have our dusty August season and extremely hot weather. The climate here is amazing and the trees in fall are more than picturesque. The mixture of oranges, reds, and yellows will have you feeling like you just stepped into a Van Gogh painting. 

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Don’t get me started on Harare sunsets. I actually wrote an essay about them back in high school, 

“For me, the sunset always takes the cake. This time the woodlands always appear to be a mirage, the light grass green of the leaves replaced by a wavering dark green mixed with peach orange and violets. The sun, at the center of it all, as it slowly sinks into the horizon, is always a shade of yellow I can never get right on my artwork. I always ask myself, is it white or is it pale egg yolk? The mystery will always remain as the answer will always be one of nature’s best-kept secrets.”

and South Africa’s very own, Bonang Matheba had a whole dress made to represent the sunset. There’s honestly nothing like it. If you happen to be going past Harare Drive into Mount Pleasant, the Pomona Quarry, or the road from Marondera to Harare as the sun sets, I implore you to take in your surroundings. 

Moreover, Zimbabwe really embraces talent, art, and the entertainment industry. My first Nasty C concert here in Harare exposed me to Zimbabwean musicians such as King 98 and Shashl, just to name a few. Poetry has its own spot in the creative scene in Harare, which is how I discovered one of my favorite young poets, Lennox Makurumidze. 

Furthermore, if you’re a food lover like myself, I’d more than happy to share a few of my guilty pleasures.

I know a few locals might judge me, but truth be told, I rarely ever walk out of Bon Marché without a brownie. They may not be the best brownies but I love indulging myself. In addition, the ice cream in Zimbabwe just hits different, so Creamy Inn is a must, and don’t forget to check out Kefalos ice cream, Belgian Chocolate to be specific. I’d also like to recommend getting a cocktail from Chop Chop and that you try the chocolate mousse at Casa Mia, should you ever find yourself in Harare. Lastly, anything from Pizza Inn is a hit. 

I hope that after reading this, and after a cure for COVID-19 is in the works, you find the time to visit Zimbabwe. Everything may not be perfect here, but nothing ever is. 

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