Revellers swarm lake, despite tragedy

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Hardly hours after tragedy blighted the prospects of jollity after an unregistered boat capsised killing 11 children at Lake Chivero, Hunyani Hills near Norton on Christmas Day, hundreds of merry-making revellers thronged the lake’s shoreline to celebrate Christmas.

The overloaded boat was carrying 19 passengers despite its carrying capacity being reportedly five.
The bodies were retrieved by police’s sub-Aqua Unit on Monday.

As if nothing had happened, a huge Christmas tree covered in lights and decorations dominated the place, which filled up with excited visitors, some spotting red Santa Claus hats seemingly unfazed by the disaster.

Drum-beating revellers and bagpipes paraded ahead of concerts and shows with hotel workers describing the displays as the year’s biggest tourist attraction.

A hotel employee who preferred anonymity said: “We have no rooms left even though the number of hotel rooms has multiplied in the last three years.

“Despite the tragedy, as you can see, this area is full. They are unfazed (by what happened).
“Because of the tragedy, all boating activities have been banned.”

The employee added: “It was not our boat, it came from Harare Safari Lodge. I do not know how parents could actually allow their children into the lake without safety vests. “It was bad. “But now people have put that behind them, and they are merry-making here.

“We are charging $3 per head for using our facility, patrons can bring their food, including beer, but once they are drunk, they buy beer from us – six packs you can imagine.

What was startling was the revelry mainly in and around the same place the retrieved bodies were put before they were collected.

There were also Christians and Muslims among the crowds. Many women in veils brought their children to join the celebrations.

A snap survey showed popular social spots such as Cleveland Dam, Mereki, Zindoga and Pakare Paye in Norton among others made brisk business.
From fairy lights and glitter in Harare and other towns to the countryside, Zimbabweans celebrated the festivities in style.

Harare, Gweru, Bulawayo, Kadoma and Kwekwe among other urban centres are bejeweled with lights, carols are inescapable in malls and offices and some retail workers – possibly against their will – are wearing red Santa hats.

Since the consummation of the inclusive government, businesses have latched onto Christmas as a fashionable, commercial venture as living standards have risen and disposable incomes increased.

Many shops in towns are garlanded out with decorations and trees, and some waitresses in Chinese restaurants in Harare have started wearing Santa hats –and, yes, jingle bells jangles nerves in the malls there too.

Many said unlike the previous few years, this year was a memorable holiday as most families have disposable income to spoil themselves.

Preparations for the festivities began as early as Thursday last week.