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Enkuto Eratukura #2: The Way Home

Pictures of aeroplanes aren't fun, so here's some fabric in Kabale Market.
Wednesday 1st April 2015 - 11.30pm

With the plane finally in the air around 9.30pm, the opportunity to relax finally came about. I was sat in the middle aisle of seats on a row with Raman and Fabio; behind me were Suweyda, Hannah and Idil.

It was interesting to talk to Suweyda and hear about how she is currently getting on at college. She made quite an impression on my student teacher, Nimah, and I last year. She had a most impressive aptitude for being late to lessons on a Monday morning and somehow getting away with it by using ‘Puss-in-Boots’ eyes in the style of the character from Shrek.

Aside from her school life, she couldn’t help but talk about recent events in the news concerning aviation, namely the crash of the German Wings flight over the Alps.

As she was going through the amateur dramatics of ‘what if it happens to us’ scenarios, a white woman with a Southern African cut in with, “you’ve just about as much chance of being hit whilst crossing the road.” 

Of course the woman was right, but there is nothing quite like a bit of Crucible-style hysteria to spark a teenager into life from time to time.

I got talking to the woman who, it turns out, was Zimbabwean. I go into my usual preamble about never having been, but that my father had lived as a boy in Zambia and had visited the country then known as Rhodesia.

After being raised in Zimbabwe and then having kids there she eventually decided to follow in her daughter’s footsteps and move to the UK. She has now been living in the Scotland for 10 years.

Dozing against the woman was a youngish child. Her grandson. For the duration of our conversation the boy didn’t move once, despite him using his grandmother’s side as a pillow. 

They were travelling for a visit to family members who the little one had yet to meet. She was, for the most part, positive about her return and the Zimbabwe that was awaited her.

“When you’re in the town, Kwekwe, it could be like you are in any other town in Southern Africa,” she started. “It’s just when you head out into the countryside that the situation can become more dangerous or edgy. But, in many ways, that is like anywhere in the world.”

I asked her how stable the economy was now for your average Zimbabwean and whether the Zimbabwean dollar was coming back soon.

“Well, we have some dollar bills for use just in Zimbabwe,” she replies, “but it’s still effectively the US dollar. 

“As for the economy, let’s put it this way: if you want a whole 200 box of cigarettes you’re talking about paying the same price as a single pack in the UK, but something like a flat-screen TV is up to $1000 at times.”

“Really?” I ask a little shocked. “Isn’t it typical that, despite the state of the economy, you can still kill yourself by smoking yourself to oblivion?”

“Yes, but at least there aren’t queues for bread any more,” she says.

I’m enjoying our chat about Zimbabwe when the drinks trolley comes along and blocks our conversation. When the trolley finally disappears, she goes back to reading her book and I contemplate getting some sleep, if only Suweyda would stop trying to discuss aviation disasters.

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