We are definitely on our own

Revellers still thronged the bar and it was not surprising to see people just chatting 

The mood in the bar was a bit sombre. It was quite unusual. Of course, the economy was on a freefall. Our local dollar had taken quite a tumble in recent weeks and was left doddering on the precipice of extinction. A tiny push would completely obliterate it.

Even my good friend Baba VaTata was finding it difficult to buy me some beer. His business had taken some hard knocks. No one was being spared.

Revellers still thronged the bar and it was not surprising to see people just chatting 

 Times were really hard and it is very difficult to give up on old habits. Rasta was drinking Pepsi and he was unusually quiet. Fatso had excused himself. I saw him going out with a woman I had never seen before.

 Gilbert, who was sitting with his friends at the next table, was saying something and I was straining my ears to hear every word.

 He ran a flea market at the shopping centre where he sold second hand takkies.

Most of us pronounced his name like Giribheti and not in the proper way. The big scar that looked like a snail below his left eye made it difficult to describe him as being handsome. The strange scar made his face hideous and the more he laughed, the worse it became and I always wondered how he got the scar. I was quite sure that if I dug deeper, an ugly story would come up, but that is a story for another day.

“We are on our own, in Africa, people get into politics for their own stomachs,” said Gilbert. This time his voice was raised a bit high.

He had drawn attention to himself and he continued.

“Look at our newly elected parliamentarians, the moment they entered Parliament, they demanded better working conditions for themselves, good perks and land cruisers,” he said.

I could see that most people around us had their full attention on Gilbert. He was onto something.

Comrade Mobiliser pulled his chair closer and came to our table.

One could always count on Comrade Mobiliser to put his own thoughts. The liberation war, which he always boasted about and his role in driving away the white settlers was not a comfortable topic for him. He was always defensive even though he lived on the periphery of existence. His drab existence was quite the opposite of some of his colleagues that he had fought alongside with, they were living large.

Thick smoke of tobacco hung heavy in the air.

“You all saw all the aspiring members of parliament canvassing for our votes. They promised a living wage for civil servants, clinics, schools and better infrastructure like roads, but no one is talking about this anymore. Why?” said Gilbert.

“The people are the ladder to the gravy train,” said someone I did not see.  A few people laughed. “Give them a chance,” said Comrade Mobiliser at last.

“How many chances should we give them? We are not getting younger,” said Baba VaTata.

“We are on our own,” said Gilbert. He repeated this several times. 

The problem is sometimes we don’t want to hear the truth. I think Gilbert had a point. Come to think of it, it is every man for himself.

There is no Santa Claus to come knocking with a bag full of fulfilled election promises.

This also reminds me of my Uncle Centcent. He died a bitter man after the aspiring Member of Parliament, Big Gonzo promised to make sure that his son gets a Presidential scholarship to study in Russia.

My uncle became a campaign foot soldier for Big Gonzo and even sold his only two cows to help with campaign resources.

After Big Gonzo was elected Member of Parliament, he completely ignored my uncle as he moved around in his land cruiser with his friends.

Empty promise followed empty promise until my uncle gave up. And after that, he was never the same man again.

To me, what Gilbert said made sense.  We are on our own. The struggle for survival is real and on a personal level and if you don’t roll up your sleeves and work, there will be no one to bring food on the table.

There is a world of difference between a voter and a politician and worse if you are in Africa; the difference is a wide chasm of empty promises and disappointments election after election.

Onie Ndoro is a an IELTS tutor, ghostwriter and storyteller. For feedback:  X@Onie90396982/email:[email protected] 0773007173

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