The Bark of the Urban Baboon3 min read


What a month we experienced in Zimbabwe in November 2017! For me, it started way back in 1952 when, upon birth, my Mother noticed that I had been born with a tail, so out with the kitchen knife and hey, presto. I was able to take my place at school later with all the other upright kids. But the tail became tales!!!!

During the week in question, I happened to be in Nigeria, the apex country of coups in Africa. My friends and colleagues there could not believe what was happening back home. They had much advice to offer on how to conduct coups and Zimbabwe was not even on page one of the manual. Unfortunately, I missed the early fun and games but was back for the final acts. Mind-blowing stuff.

Upon returning, I had to visit NSSA, my own pension advisors and the Government Pension Office, to make sure that a steady stream of income would be forthcoming for my retirement. The front desk for the Government Pension Office is on the sixth floor of the NSSA building on Second Street. Although I had drawn a pension for twenty years from the Government, by 2004, with all the mayhem going on with local currency, my bank went bust, the Zimbabwe dollar crashed and the pension was put on the back-burner. Just how far back, I was soon to find out! The gentleman who attended to my case looked in the system loaded onto the computer and tried to track my name, previous place of employment, ID number and the like. “You are digitally dead!” he announced emphatically. This was a shock to me because I wasn’t even feeling poorly right then.. With social media being what it is, I reported the bad news to my family spread evenly between the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong and Zimbabwe. The gentleman then said I would have to go to the dreaded Fourth Floor of dull-grey, Mukwati Building where dead and difficult pensioners are handled. He lifted a corner of the blinds in his office and pointed two or three blocks to the northeast. “Mukwati, Fourth Floor, see Mr Sibanda.” And so I did.

In no time, Mr Sibanda confirmed the worst although he did manage to track me down to some data spread evenly between Incomplete Records and Suspended! “If you can bring some proof, we can resurrect you,” he promised. I phoned home and my wife dug out a Lever Arch file, dusted it off, and extracted the relevant original documents from the Pensions Office dating back to 1984. I raced back and presented these to Mr Sibanda who with the utmost professionalism complimented me for still having the now-yellowed originals and helped me to fill out the Certificate of Life, which apparently is all that separates the living from the dead in the Pensions Office. “We can bring you back,” he beamed. Such power! And so that is a short synopsis of my life journey, my Nzira. Apparently the years between 2004 and 2008 are lost forever.

Our social media virtual wires were buzzing with all the excitement and my girls reported a strange condition of aching rib-cages, lost in tears of joy. They even suggested that I do my own eulogy, which was quite tempting, because I cannot think of any friend I could truly trust with the duty. So there you have it folks – as you can see from the photo on the right, perhaps now that people realize they do really have teeth, maybe, just maybe, the grass is greenest here in Zimbabwe!

Warts and all!