Harare: A City I Love

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

I’ve always had a sense that I have a weakness for Harare, the city that never sleeps. I guess, being a Zimbabwean, that should not be surprising – it’s the capital city after all.

It’s a strange thing to love a city. Of course, I’ll never get to know Harare in its entirety. I suppose what I love are pieces of it, and for me, joined together, they make a perfect whole. After all, it is said the whole is a sum of its parts.

That said, I love Harare for its simple elegance. I like it for it’s never die spirit. It’s been through hell and back but it still stands today resolute, confident in its being. Each time Harare rises anew. The city can fall but it always rises with new means and ways to face a new day. The city is never short of getting round immediate obstacles but it appears it lacks a long term solution to its ills.

Harare is a simple city – it’s not easy to get lost in it. That is perhaps its allure, what certainly makes me fall in love with it everyday.

It’s also a peaceful city. Not many cities round the globe compare to it in terms of security. You can walk or drive around Harare without fear. Guns are a rarity – not that people don’t get ganked. But it’s on rare occasion.

For me, the low rise nature of its buildings which remind me of matchboxes, of course, is quite cool because it makes the city non-intimidating.

People on the streets have a calm quality, a visitor could never imagine the trauma they’ve been through, they’re neither rude nor intimidating. Fashion wise, the city has a conservative but cosmopolitan feel. The dress sense is rather generic, and not many people want to be truly out-of-the box in the way that they dress – but I stand to be corrected.

There are many cities around the globe that carry a tag of a city that never sleeps. But I doubt if there’s one that has a name that literally means that as Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. Of course, you can find one or two souls going about their business at odd hours. And, there are of course many cities in the world don’t actually sleep compared to Harare. After all, Harare tends to clear its street by 8 O’clock at night.

By design, the city flushes out people who go to their homes either in the leafy rich densely populated suburbs to its north or to where the masses reside in the ghettos. In terms of size, Harare’s CBD is quite small, which is isn’t necessarily a drawback because it makes quite the walking city. You can criss-cross the city a dozens times in a day, and one would have to be a real Martian to get lost. It is very easy to get a hang of the city. That’s doesn’t make it less of a special place to be though.

Over the past decade, Harare has gone through a roller coaster of happenings. From bank queues to hordes of dealers on the streets, the street has been home to money seekers. There is something about Harare’s heartbeat, in spite of the cripples its surrounded with, it’s still ascendant. It seeks to rise above its immediate challenges but lacks a solution for the long-term.

Though Harare doesn’t have all the whistles and bells of modernity, it’s still filled with a passion for the elegant.

Talk about its weather: the city is adjudged to have one of the best climate in the world. No wonder most Hararians take it on an easy chill.

Of course, I could go on and on about this city I love.

I guess my love for it is intertwined with the love of my country, Zimbabwe. It is from this that I connect with the nation. With every living soul of Zimbabwe. No city in the world could ever give me that feeling.

It’s a city that I hold dear in my heart. For its warts and all. For all its beauty and madness. Isn’t that what it really means to love a city the way I love Harare; to carry within its possibilities, however faintly, of its rebirth that will shine like a flame-lily.

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