Ghetto dances: The misery that surrounded me

Onie Ndoro is a an IELTS tutor, ghostwriter and storyteller.

For the last few days, each time I woke up, I always told myself that enough is enough.  I was so angry with myself and the misery that surrounded me.

Each time I went to the shops, there were nice cars in the parking bays. Three or four of the cars would be for the “mashurugwi” guys who were mining for gold in Mazowe and  Bindura. They made it a point to come in the ghetto and flashy around their wealthy.

 We drank with some of them in Zororo Bar where they made a lot of noise and in some cases they would start a fight that would close the whole bar. The most notorious of these “mashurugwi” guys was Dumisani. He was not even a good fighter but the long ugly knife that he carried around his waist was enough intimidation.

A couple of weeks back, Roy, who also lived in Hwata Street invited me to join him at his gold claim in Bindura. He had recruited five other guys and a geologist had given him a positive report about the mine. The best results were 4.5g/mt gold and it was a lode  deposit with gold embedded in the hard rock. It was going to be hard work but the prospects were worth it.

Mai Maidei was also having a torrid time at the market as sales had declined in recent days. She was not making much money and we were struggling to meet our daily needs.

I did not need much persuasion as I was tired of my dreary existence. To get some leave days, I “killed” one of my relatives who had passed away ages ago and I made it sound like he had died the previous day. My workmates knew about this trick as they had also done it before at the expense of our management.

At the mine when I arrived, I was amazed to see crowds of half-naked men toiling at the mines. There were makeshift tents all over the area as many people owned small pieces of gold claims. There were as many women as well and these were providing services like vending food which was cooked in the open fires. I did not see any sources of water or sanitary facilities and this  place was just a ticking time  bomb for breeding cholera.

 And I was quite sure that there were other services which were provided under the nefarious cover of darkness which I might never know about.

I also noticed a number of  off  terrain vehicles at the mines. I was informed that these mostly belonged to the rich gold buyers or their runners. It dawned on me that the bedrock of the economy was in these outposts of civilisation where people were living rough to get hold of the gold dust. I could see a gold fever all over the place. And I must hasten to say the gold fever was infectious and no wonder people overlooked the medieval living conditions.

The work itself was hard. We spent hours using chisels and hammers. It was hard quartz rock and it required a lot of patience.

There was a guy who was working in our group. He kept looking at me.  He never spoke to me since the day I came. It was quite obvious that he disliked me. He was tall, and his skin was a rich black colour. A deep scar ran over the bridge of his nose and he looked like a guy from one of those big screen horror movies. Tobias was his name and I was sure trouble was his second name.

I made my observations about Tobias to Roy.

“Just ignore him, I should not have hired him,” said Roy.

The other guys we were working with were  easy to get along with.  I found it easy to get along with Moses who was the youngest in our group. He told me that all his parents had passed away a long time ago and he had been looking after his siblings for as long as he can remember.

 During our breaks he told me harrowing tales of nights without food and days that stretched  from the first day of the month to the last day of the month and counting the number of meals. He lived at the house left to them by their parents with his siblings crowded in one room while the rest of the house was occupied by lodgers and his uncle would collect all the money every month.

We took turns to cook and we served our sadza and meat in two separate plastic dishes. We ate together and as I picked a piece of meat, Tobias grabbed my right hand wrist.

“Put it back,” he said.

He was angry. I shook my head. 

Without warning, he rushed at me swinging his fists. One of his fist landed on my jaw and left me stunned as I fought to keep my balance. I knew from the onset that it was not going to be a fair fight as he towered over me. I took a big log  from the fire and swung it at him. It caught him on his forehead and he howled in pain as the burning log burnt his skin.

I beat the daylight out of him and the others had to restrain me. I never liked violence and I was not going to let anyone take advantage of me. I hope was not going to turn into a full fledged “mashurugwi.” All I needed was to beat the harsh economic existence.

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

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