Day 2 in Harare kicked off with an early start but also gave us a glimpse of life in downtown Harare on a busy Wednesday morning as we hit the road to get some passport photos done for our media cards and sim cards activated (I am now a proud owner of Econet mobile – whoop whoop!)

 

Soon after our brief city outing it was time to make our way to the press conference at the National Parks and Wildlife Management where the director Vitalis Chadenga talked us through their work around Zimbabwe and shed light on the raging debate around the issue of the international ban on selling and disposing of ivory and rhino horns.

Would you believe that Zimbabwe is sitting on 10 million dollars worth of 44 tons of ivory they are not permitted to trade or dispose of? And for a country that boasts an elephant population 100000 and undisclosed sum of rhino (the exact population is confidential so as not to encourage illegal poachers but they can disclose they had 120 rhinos dehorned only this year).

The trunks and ivory from the animals that die of natural causes are collected, weighed and catalogued in what sounds like a tedious task. We got to see these trunks including the heaviest from an elephant that died in 1984 which weighs 67kg.

 

Mr. Chadenga’s words were food for thought as he stated that “sometimes some countries make decisions for others that are weaker.” While the implication was that it is often the Western world that is at fault, a journalist’s query regarding measures against illegal poaching and trading of rhino horns, in popular demand in the Far East, mainly China with whom the Zimbabwean governments boasts good relations with was met by Mr. Chadenga’s tactful manouvre that no one country was to blame.

We also got to see a range of animal hides from the solid pachyderms to glossy croc skin (Well, Pepper, if you do get a crocodile skin bag befitting s fashion editor, you know where that came from!), from telltale black and white striped zebra hide to the once lush fur of a lioness. As much as a rule of Mother Nature as it is that all that’s born must one day die, being in such close proximity to these leftovers laid out in storage only made our yearning to behold these animals alive out in the Zimbabwean wilderness stronger.

On our return to Rainbow Towers while having buffet lunch at the hotel’s restaurant, we were treated to an impromptu show of hail from Mother Nature as huge chunks pounded down on the outdoor patio.

3pm was the scheduled departure time for the city sightseeing tour, but as with most things sub-Saharan, it wasn’t until half an hour after we left the hotel. Oh well, I can’t complain as the delay allowed me to catch up with James Maphosa of The African Sun hotels chain who told me all about their fabulous properties across South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Nigeria.

 

Our first spot was the highest point of Harare which provided us with unrestricted vistas across the city – it was camera clicks and flashes galore for the quarter of an hour we spent taking in and capturing for posterity the Harare skyline. We then made our way to Harare’s oldest township Mbare where we had the chance to shop at a street market and haggle to our hearts’ content (My Nigerian fam would be proud of my haggling skills which have come a long way). I was particularly proud of my purchase of carved wood ornaments I snapped at bargain price! From one half of the city to another, we drove across the city to Harare’s Beverley Hills – Borrowdale. In purplish hues of dusk, the landscape stood still and Harare looked like a city in complete peace with itself and the world.

Our best laid schemes for our last night in Harare went awry as our dinner outing was thwarted by the unimaginable closing time for restaurants – 8pm. It was only when we got there at 9pm we realised our last restaurant option had also long shut down for the night. By the time we got back to the hotel and rounded up our buffet dinner, the night felt old and the body weary for the initially alluring prospect of sampling Harare night life at the Londoners pub.

I am typing this up as we prepare to hit the road once again on another glorious Zimbabwe day, heading towards Nyanga and leaving Harare behind. What will remain with me of Zimbabwe’s graceful capital city is the eerie sense of calm and quiet that pervades the twilight hours in a city with wide expanses of land and delightful hibiscus trees that never cease to take your breath away as they appear in all their rebellious purple glory against a sea of greens.

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3 Responses

  1. AfrikanHerbzman

    As a Zimbabwean, I’m fascinated and impressed to learn this. Keep it up and keep us informed!

    Reply

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