ZIMBABWE: Poor countryside? Not at all!

Can you imagine sitting on a bench in a shadow in a small village in the middle of Sub-Saharan Africa at this very moment? The air is warm and dry. The bench you're sitting on is smooth, made of brick and mortar, and it is attached to a small round house plastered with mud and thatched with a thick layer of straw. And so, you rest in the shadow and feel no stress. The only thing you hear is blades of grass swaying back and forth in the gentle breeze.

 

When breathing in through the nose, you catch an interesting mixture of smells of fresh mangos and papayas, still ripening behind the house. The homestead is surrounded by a big vegetable garden where plenty of edible pumpkins are growing out of the red and brown soil. If you look one way, you see tall stalks and leaves of white corn, and on the other side of the house there's a sort of green and brown grass of medium height. This is finger millet, called rapoko by the locals. It has small beige seeds on top that aren’t ripe yet. When ripe, they’ll turn dark brown and the locals will use them to make porridge.

 

All is calm, only children's voices and cow bells are heard here and there somewhere in the distance. The sun is slowly but surely moving across the northern side of the sky towards the west, which is unusual for us. But it makes sense, you're on the southern hemisphere where everything is turned upside down.

 

 

 

Papaya

 

Mango

 

Rapoko

 

There’s no traffic, there is only one dusty road winding through the village from where you can occasionally hear a loud greeting from someone who is walking by, returning from a nearby bigger village. In the morning, it's fellow villagers, coming back from the field before the high sun, and in the afternoon it's mostly children on their way back from school. From time to time a truck comes from town to pick up the crops.

 

 

The village doesn't have poor hygiene or overpopulation problems. On the contrary, nature stretches as far as the eye can see. Typical trees provide lots of shade with their umbrella-shaped treetops. The soil doesn't seem dry, green plants are all around. However, it’s true that you can't see any running water in the vicinity and, in addition, there is also no electricity. Highly unusual, but you don’t miss them and you don't even think about them. There’s enough drinking water and water for household and bathroom use, as well as enough soap. It's customary to wash your hands before and after every meal. Big barrels where water is stored can be found in the kitchen, behind the house and in the separate bathroom. Several times a month it is necessary to load the wagon with empty barrels and renew the stock of water at the nearest water pump.

 

Water pump

 

 

There’s no need for electricity at the moment, but in case of emergency you can charge your telephone battery with solar energy. The lights they use at night are also charged this way. It’s said that some people in the village can even afford a natural gas refrigerator.

 

There's a system of small round and rectangular houses around you. The round ones are the old farm buildings typical of the rural environment. Each house has only one room for one purpose. Kitchen, outdoor kitchen, bedroom, pantry, bathroom, toilet. Newer ones are rectangular and have more elements of modern buildings; a thin waterproof layer below, a façade and a more modern tin sheet roofing.

 

 

 

Kitchen

 

At night, the sounds of the wilderness are heard from the dark. No worries, lions are almost eradicated and can only be found in nature reserves. So you don't have to fear stepping out of the house in the morning, stretching, and being eaten by a wild beast. There are elephants, but they stay away from settlements and only their faeces can be seen lying next to the road in certain areas.

 

Venomous snakes are active when it’s dark and at night, when they hunt for rodents. The most dangerous snakes, such as green mambas and different types of vipers, live in the forest. At night one of them could be found near a homestead because of the immediate proximity of the henhouse. They aren't found elsewhere around the houses. Nonetheless, it doesn't hurt to be cautious and always watch your step.

 

Henhouse

 

 

Observing the starry sky with the naked eye in the village without light pollution is simply magic. Perfect darkness and dry air provide an ideal combination for stargazing. Even nonexperts can take amazingly beautiful shots of the night sky with the help of modern technology.

 

 

 

 

The people are hospitable and hard-working, but also relaxed and life moves at a slower pace. Their habits such as cooking on the ground don't seem foreign anymore. Eventually the environment starts feeling like home and pulls you along with its unforced rhythm. Relaxed chatting with the locals takes you into a slower tempo without even knowing. You're left pleasantly surprised by the genuine kindness of people, wonderful nature and interesting cuisine.

 

Once you experience all this, it will get under your skin and make you come back for sure.

 

On the other side of the world, completely the same, yet so different!
Eva Borin
Eva Borin

A Ljubljana native, graduated from the Faculty of Computer and Information Science, a new member of the OurSpace group of developers. Nature and animal lover. I dedicate my spare time to music. I’ve been singing since I was a child. I’m currently singing in a choir called Sankofa, where I explore traditional music of the African continent.

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