Nhamoinesu Jemwa is a Zimbabwean small scale tobacco farmer.. He sends his three young children to school as well as take care of his wife Eliza, daughters, twenty-two year old son and his sick younger brother from the money realized from the sales of the tobacco. He sells the tobacco at the auction floors in Harare. For this season he fails to go and sell his tobacco because his leg has been paining him, so he decides to send his son, Tawanda, to Harare to sell. All the family’s hopes are carried on Tawanda’s shoulders as he leaves. The money is needed to pay for the grade seven exam fees for his younger brothers, to buy inputs for the new farming season, to pay for the truck they were hiring to carry tobacco to Harare, to get medication for Nhamoinesu’s leg and new tires for the family’s cart.
Outside the barn, there is an excited chatter that is almost being drowned by the idling of a truck. There is Tawanda and his family.
NHAMOINESU: Be careful my son, there are a lot of thieves in Harare, please do be caref….
TAWANDA: Haa baba (chuckles) I am a big boy now, don’t worry about me at all. I will be fine.
NHAMOINESU: Our tobacco is very good, do not accept low prices for it, we have to pay off debts and remain with a little something so I can go to the mission hospital with my leg.
TAWANDA: I hear you baba
There is the sound of a truck revving and someone shouts impatiently from the truck
TEMBA: Eh Tawanda, time is moving, let’s go please! I need to be in Harare by lunch time.
TAWANDA starts for the waiting truck and he is stopped by his mother who is running from the house carrying a lunch box
ELIZA: You want to leave without anything to eat on the way, you will die from hunger Jena. Things are expensive in that big city.
TAWANDA: Thank you amai, let me be on my way now. The driver, Mukoma Temba is getting impatient.
Tawanda gets onto the truck. There is the sound of the truck leaving the barn. The driver blares the horn. Dogs are heard barking as they try to race with the truck. After some time, there is silence.
HARARE, BY THE AUCTION FLOORS. DAY 1
There is a long queue of trucks parked outside the auction floors and Tawanda’s truck is packed at the far end. Tawanda and the driver are sleeping in the truck, waiting for their turn.
There is a knock at the window. Tawanda sits up and rolls down the window. A lady is there, selling water, juice, polony, cigarettes, biscuits and sweets.
LADY: Eh vakwasha, aren’t you dying from the heat there? Please get some water to soothe your dry throats.
TAWANDA: Hmm the heat is too much. How much is the water?
LADY: Dollar for two bottles (she hands him two 500 mls bottles of ice cold water)
He opens one of the bottles frantically and gulps down half of the water.
TAWANDA: Yeah, I was dying. Eh Mukoma Temba (Nudging the driver) Here is some water, give us a dollar to pay please.
LADY: What about polony, biscuits. Eh you must be starving as well?
TEMBA: Ah amai, what we need is sadza, we want hot food not biscuits. Are we small children?
LADY: Sadza, hmm you would have to go down the road there, they have sadza and mabhonzo and cabbages for $1.50. Haa, its really nice food.
TAWANDA: Ihh I would want sadza and mabhonzo (salivating) Is it okay if you go down there with me and show me?
LADY: Haa, mukwasha, you would then have to buy me a plate of sadza ka
TEMBA: Ah amai, for just showing him
LADY: This is Harare please, nothing is for free.
Tawanda alights from the truck and walks with the lady to get the sadza.
Back in the truck, Tawanda and Temba are resting after their meal, they have moved only two places ahead in the queue.
TAWANDA: Hey mukoma, I saw an angel when I went to buy our sadza.
TEMBA: (absent mindedly picking the meat stuck on his teeth with a money clip) An angel? Hahaha, is the heat getting to your head?
TAWANDA: Aiwa Mukoma, I saw the most beautiful girl I have ever seen in this entire world.
TEMBA: (laughs) Haa Tawa, this is Harare, there is still more for you to see, relax.
TAWANDA: Haa mukoma, that child is a bullet. And she has long flowing hair with golden ends, blood red long fingernails and eyebrows shaped like I have never seen. Imagine bringing her back to the village with me, Ha (claps once) people would die from envy. Geeez that girl, hmm.
TEMBA: Dream on Tawa, these Harare girls, what could a small village boy like you offer them? Huh? She would not even look at you, you are not her type.
TAWANDA: Hmm Hmm, jealousy.
TEMBA: (laughs) Eh Eh, did you even talk to the girl? Did you?
TAWANDA: Eh, when I saw her, my knees went weak, I told you she is the most beautiful creature I have ever seen. A mermaid herself. Even that haughty chief’s daughter Rudaviro back in the village is not fit to tie her shoes.
TEMBA: Hmm when you spent sleepless nights when Rudaviro spurned your advances and fell for that shopkeeper. Hahaha, you were dying from a broken heart then
TAWANDA: Mxm, because the shop keeper was giving her family sugar and jam and gave her ponds and perm lotion. Ha, she is a gold digger that one
TEMBA: (bursts out laughing) so if you can’t afford to take care of a village girl, how are you going to take care of a city girl? She is out of your league, Tawa.
TAWANDA: (reclining in his seat) you are bursting my bubble.
TEMBA: I’m sorry but I’m just being honest, Don’t worry, when we are done here, I will take you to places you have never seen , you will enjoy yourself
TAWANDA: But baba’s money, we can’t….
TEMBA: We will just spend a few dollars, he does not have to know
TAWANDA: Ah, no mukoma!
TEMBA: (laughs) Relax kid, after all this hard work and sleeping in the car, you need a little bit of fun. Even your father would take a few dollars to enjoy himself for a night or two. There are fine ladies in Mbare there, they can take care of your needs.
Close to the tobacco auction floors. The sadza place is full of farmers who are queued to buy food. It is hot and poorly ventilated and every one is just shouting impatiently.
There are sounds of pots banging and of people giving their orders.
RESTAURANT LADY: Next!
CUSTOMER: 1 plate sadza and chicken stew and a bottle of coke.
RESTAURANT LADY: (Brings a plate with sadza and chicken stew, piping hot and a bottle of ice cold coke- There is the sound of a bottle top dropping onto the floor as she opens the soda) Here you are….Next!
Tawanda steps in and tries to give his order but the bullish man near him pushes him
MAN: Eh, are you stupid? We have been in this queue for ages and you think you can just step in and buy?
TAWANDA”: Eish, I’m sorry baba, who is the last person in the queue?
HERE! (Someone shouts from behind him, he turns and he mumbles something under his breath. It is the beautiful girl he saw on the first day. He makes the way towards her with weak legs).
The girl is standing at the end of the queue. She is dressed in a leopard print dress and brown pumps. She has Brazilian hair and blood red long nails.
TRACY: You can come stand in front of me and get served first (smiling at Tawanda, putting him at ease)
TAWANDA: Are you sure?
TRACY: Yeah, I am not in any hurry. After all I can tell you are so hungry. Go ahead…. Oh and by the way, I’m Tracy.
TAWANDA: Thank you, Tracy, I’m Tawanda. I thought all city people are the same, rude and cold
man he had an altercation with before: HEEY! YOU tried to force your way to the first place, shut up!
TRACY: Hmm don’t mind him, he probably did not make enough money when he sold his tobacco. Sore loser!
TAWANDA: Oh, maybe that’s why. Hmmm, I actually made a lot of money though
There is a murmur in the shop and some people look at Tawanda.
TRACY: Oh yeah? (Her eyes lighting up) Like how much?
TAWANDA: $5 000
Another Murmur in the shop
TRACY: Uhhhm, that’s a respectable sum
They had reached the counter where the restaurant lady shouted Next! Impatiently
TAWANDA: Two plates sadza and guru and two ginger beers
TRACY: Oh look at this thoughtful gentleman, buying me a plate.
TAWANDA: (looking confused and then embarrassed) Ohh. Umm sorry, I had bought the other plate for the driver Mukoma Temba.
TRACY: Oh is it, don’t wo…
TAWANDA: No, it’s alright, let me get you your own. What would you have?
TRACY: Rice and pork roast if it is okay with you…. and Fanta orange
TAWANDA: It’s alright…Ambuya! Please bring another plate of rice, roasted pork and Fanta orange
RESTAURANT LADY: Eh mukwasha, why don’t you give your orders at once
TRACY: hmm, mai Tee, what’s wrong with you today? Can’t you see he is a major client? Don’t be like this.
RESTAURANT LADY: Oh this is your client Tracy, hehehe, can he get mai Tee a bottle of coke as well hmm? (she winks at Tracy)
TAWANDA: But… errm. Okay, no harm in it. It is just 5 rand yeah?
RESTAURANT LADY: Yeah. Thank you Mkwasha….Ohh and your orders are here.
TAWANDA: Here is the money (He gives her $10 and she gave him back his three dollars change) Thank you.
Somewhere in Harare, sounds of people shouting, cars moving and booting and brakes screeching.
Tawanda and Temba are sitting in the truck, it is almost dusk. The sound of traffic almost drowned by their voices as they argue.
TEMBA: I think it is a bad idea for you to go with this girl to her house when you barely know her
TAWANDA: I can’t miss this chance Mukoma, I have to. Eh who turns down an offer from such an angel?
TEMBA: Then I’m coming with you.
TAWANDA: Ah, no! You can go to Mbare and have you kind of fun, I will go with Tracy
TAWANDA: Yes! I am not your child and I am not taking orders from you!
TEMBA: Your father will not like this…
TAWANDA: He does not have to know. After all you will also go to Mbare to see your ladies there. Give me space, please.
TEMBA: Then I carry all the money with me so you won’t spend it.
TAWANDA: That will not happen. You want to spend the money on your ladies and beer in Mbare. No! That will not work. I will carry all the money.
TEMBA: (Sighs) Give me a twenty then, so I can at least buy myself something to drink.
TAWANDA: Sure (Pulling A $20 from the bundle of $20s and handing it to Temba)
There is a knock by the window
TAWANDA: Must be the angel herself (As he rolls down the window) Heeey baby girl.
TEMBA: Let me see this so called angel (moves closer to Tawanda) Eh, beautiful child!!
TAWANDA: (LAUGHING) See, I told you (Opens the door)
TRACY: (Shyly, standing outside) How are you mkwasha (curtsying)
TEMBA: Hmmm big city girls have manners as well, eh!
TAWANDA: This one is different. She is a proper woman! (Gets off the truck and is shouting) She even has her own house in the suburb of Waterfalls and a clothes shop in town.
TAWANDA: Impressive! (Getting off the truck to get a better look) So, what is a fine lady like you doing in such a place?
TAWANDA: Hmm Mukoma Temb…
TRACY: Oh don’t worry Tawa, I own the sadza shop.
TAWANDA: But …I bought you food there!
TEMBA: You did what? Without telling me?
TRACY: Hehehe, I know, I was just just trying to create conversation with you. I can give you back your money, doubled.
TEMBA: (Laughs, embarrassed) No, it’s alright, no need for that. So tell me, That sadza place is yours? Hmmm, you must be rich.
TRACY: (Chuckles) Not really, business is hard but I try.
A car screeches to a halt next to them
TRACY: Our car is here, Let’s go Tawa.
TAWANDA: Ohh. Okay. Let me take the bag with my money….Mukoma, we will meet here tomorrow at 6 am yeah?
TEMBA: Yes. Eish, I think you will have the time of your life with this beautiful girl. Eish.
TRACY: (Chuckles) Mukoma, you can find other people to hang out with. You seem smart enough to find your way around Harare.
(Car doors are opened and closed and the car starts and leaves.)
Sounds of heavy traffic. Tracy and Tawanda are sitting in a blue Ipsum, driven by a quiet bearded man, along Simon Mazorodze way towards Waterfalls, a medium density surburb. There is music playing in the car, with Oliver Mutukudzi’s voice filling the small car “Usatamba nevapfanha vemughetto vanogetura”
TRACY: Tawa, this is my driver, Tito
TAWANDA: Oh how are you Mukoma?
The driver just grunts.
TRACY: Don’t worry, he is like that.
Tawanda is looking outside with awe in his eyes.
TAWANDA: Hmmm, this place you stay is fit for kings
The driver laughs but says nothing
TRACY: (Laughing) Then you are a King tonight Tawa
Sound of a car horn blaring. A dog barks. Another car horn. More dogs bark.
In the suburb of Waterfalls, The blue Ipsum carrying Tawanda and Tracy is parked in front of the gate. Someone opens the gate from within the yard.
TRACY: We are here.
TAWANDA: Those dogs that barked, won’t they bite me?
TRACY: (Chuckles) No, they are already locked up
They drive in and park in front of a huge house.
TAWANDA: This is such a big house for a lady to stay by herself
TRACY: I don’t stay by myself per se, I have maids and gardeners here so I am never alone…Tito, drive to the back…Yes… and stop by that door.
TAWANDA: (muttering) This is really big, my god. Even the chief back home does not have such a grand house (laughs gleefully) Mukoma Temba is really missing out.
TRACY: Tawa, wait here, I have to check that everything has been sorted by the cook and that the room we sleep in is in order.
TAWANDA: Take your time angel.
There is the sound of a car door opening and closing as Tracy leaves the car.
TAWANDA: (To the driver) So you are really this angel’s driver…? Eish I envy you.
The driver just grunts.
TAWANDA: Eh you can’t even make polite conversation? Or you wanted Tracy yourself?
The driver grunts again and laughs.
The car door opens again.
TRACY: Tawa, let’s go dear.… Tito, don’t go far my friend.
TITO: (Laughing) Yes sisi, show the young one how we welcome visitors to Harare!
Tawanda alights from the car, follows Tracy towards the house, she unlocks the door and they go in.
TAWANDA: (In amazement, moving around the room, carrying his bag) Eh! This is your bedroom? Hey! Such A big bed! Eh for only one person. Hmm eh, you live the life!
TRACY: Relax dear, put your bags down and feel at home. You have only seen the bedroom. Later, we will go to the kitchen where they are preparing a feast for us.
TAWANDA: YES! I am starving as well.
TRACY: Its alright, you will eat to your heart’s content….But tell me, did you carry your money?
TAWANDA: Why? Do you need me to buy anything?
TRACY: No dear. I’m just thinking that your driver would take the money and spend it
TAWANDA: (Laughing) Clever girl! I carried all the money, Only gave him a $20 to drink and find ladies in Mbare there.
TRACY: What a smart guy. Yeah, $20 is enough in Mbare….Here you will not spend a tenner, just relax and be at home.
TAWANDA: Yes baby girl!
TRACY: Yeah, now you need to go and shower…come let me show you the shower …. Here is how you turn on hot water, and here is how you turn on cold water
There are sounds of water running
TRACY: So get ready dear. I will go to the kitchen to check on the food. Take your time.
The door is closed. There is the sound of water running and Tawanda whistling as he takes his shower.
In the bedroom. It’s quiet. There is the sound of crickets and distant dogs barking. Sound of a door opening and closing
Tawanda, in a drying towel walks into the bedroom from the bathroom still whistling.
There is silence.
TAWANDA: Tracy! Traaacy! I’m done. (Talking to himself) I guess she is still in the kitchen, Let me lie down.
He is whistling merrily as he lotions himself then lies on the bed, waiting
Still in the bedroom in waterfalls, an hour has passed, it has grown dark, Tawanda is lying on the bed in the drying towel.
There are voices of people speaking outside. He sits up
TAWANDA: Tracy? Is that you? Traacy?
There are sounds of car doors being opened then closed. A car starts, drives off, stops, the gate opens, the car leaves, then the gate closes.
There is a knock by the door.
TAWANDA: Tracy!? Is that you?
He opens the door and sees a man standing there
MAN: Heey, Please your hour is over, you have to leave.
TAWANDA: Excuse me, who are you and what are you talking about?
MAN: Eh don’t try to be smart shaa, I said you have to leave now.
TAWANDA: Leave to where? Where is Tracy? Who are you?
MAN: I don’t know who Tracy is, I said leave.
TAWANDA: I can’t leave now, this is Tracy’s house
MAN: (Exasperated) Who is Tracy? This is not Tracy’s house my friend and you know it.
TAWANDA: What do you mean this is not Tracy’s house when she brought me here and even had the keys to the bedroom? Are you crazy?
MAN: Don’t shout my friend. Slow down and tell me your story well, who brought you here?
TAWANDA: Tracy, this beautiful lady who owns the sadza shop close to the tobacco auction floors. She brought me here for a night of fun. Now you are pretending not to know Tracy. What kind of joke is this? Eh, are you one of her gardeners?
MAN: Whooooa, my friend. I think you need to get inside and get dressed first then we continue with this conversation.
There are voices of people talking. A lady’s voice is heard saying “Is room 10 ready now? What’s the hold up now?
MAN: There is a story here. Wait, I’ll be there just now.
Tawanda goes back into the room to get dressed. The man remains outside.
A scream is heard from the room where Tawanda is. The man runs into the room. Tawanda is sitting on the floor, holding his head in his hands.
MAN: What? I said get dressed my friend.
TAWANDA: My bag! My father’s money! Oh Father in Heaven. My bag!
MAN: What happened?
TAWANDA: She took my bag. There was money there (wails)
MAN: How much?
TAWANDA: Close to $5 000
MAN: Ehhhh! My friend! You have been robbed! Ehhhh!
Back in the village. Tawanda’s family is sitting in the family cooking hut, in front of a dying fire.
A cow moos in the distance and there are sounds of bullfrogs nearby. Nhamoinesu is lying down on a reed mat, groaning. His leg has gotten worse, and they went to the clinic and were turned back as they did not have the $5 consultation fees
ELIZA: I do not know what is holding Tawa up in Harare.
NHAMOINEMSU: Eh Mai Tawa, maybe the process took longer (groans) you know how these things are like.
ELIZA: Haa, no. Zuze told me he saw them, they were even in front of Zuze’s truck in the queue.
NHAMOINEMSU: Uhn… Zuze gossips like a little girl. Who sent him? Who asked him (groans again)
ELIZA: I did, I am getting worried baba. Look at your leg, getting worse by day. And that nurse turning us away because we did not have $5 dollars. Hmm, Lord be with her
NHAMOINESU: Do not be like that now. They will be here tomorrow.
Eliza: (sighs) I hope so. The children’s examination fee has to be paid by the day after tomorrow too or they will not be able to write their grade seven exams.
Near the auction floors, its day break. Temba is sitting in the truck, growing impatient.
TEMBA: (Talking to himself) Where is this child now? I told him we meet here by six, we have to go buy tyres for the cart as well. If it gets hot moving around downtown is not nice.
An hour has passed. Temba still in the truck.
TEMBA: (Muttering) Ah. I should have stopped him. Now he is delaying us. Hmmm, they must be having fun with that girl. Mxm. Should have gone with him.
Traffic is getting heavy and the sounds get louder. The sun is up, there are voices of people around, talking, laughing, shouting.
A car stops next to the truck, Tawanda, a man, a lady and a police officer alight.
Temba gets off the truck and runs to Tawanda.
TEMBA: Are you okay? (Taking his hand) What happened? Where is Tracy? Where were you? Why are you with a police officer……? Answer me, are you okay?!
TAWANDA: (Sighs) Mukoma, I got robbed…
TEMBA: Where? (Shouting) How? That girl, is she okay?
TAWANDA: She robbed me
TEMBA: (Laughs) Huh?!
TAWANDA: That girl, took me to a lodge, lying that it was her house and as I took a shower, she left with the bag which contained the money
TEMBA: (Screams and claps once) Heh?! What! What bag! What money?! Hehhh! (Claps again)
TAWANDA: (Weeps) Mukoma, father’s money is gone.
TEMBA: (Slaps him) Didn’t I warn you about these city girls? Heh!?
TAWANDA: But Mukoma, you said she was okay, that she was so beautiful!
The man from the lodge cut in.
MAN: Please stop hitting him. Now we need to go to the sadza place and try ask around for this girl!
TAWANDA: Yeah, maybe we can recover some of the money.
“Welcome to Harare” is a play written by Cecelia Kamputa. Find her on Twitter, and nag her to give us the rest of the play, because the cliffhanger is excellent! Check out her other posts on the blog and please share this one to all your friends!