Wednesday 27 January 2010

The Blog That Went Whoosh!

When I was a little girl, I was fond of a book called The Bed That Went Whoosh! The story was about a magical flying bed. In subsequent books, the bed whooshed! to exciting places like Dublin, New York, Moyle and, erm, Boris in Ossory. It struck me today that my blog has a tendency to whoosh! from place to place. So please hold on, because now we’re going to whoosh! from France back to Zimbabwe.

I was very curious to see what downtown Harare looked like and Robbie obliged me by giving me a guided tour. As with other places I’ve described in Zim, there’s a general air of datedness about the place and it could use a good clean and touch up. I think if I hadn’t spent time in South Africa, the cityscape would have come as more of a surprise, but I recognised a familiar mixture of colonial houses, concrete towers and Wild West architecture.

We saw lots of signs fixed to trees all over Harare: people looking for work and selling things.

This beautiful house, straight from my Out of Africa fantasies, is now a medical centre:

And there are lots of this style of housing block.

We visited Gallery Delta, a wonderful contemporary art gallery where I saw work by a lot of the artists who had featured in the Prints from Zimbabwe exhibition I worked on.

Something about the Telephone Exchange struck me - a bastion of the Old World in New Zimbabwe.

And here we're getting to downtown downtown (and I think we sang the song as we drove along - when you're alone and life is making you lonely you can always go ... DOWNTOWN!)

And here's a shout-out to Robbie's great-grandfather (great-uncle?) who was the architect of one of the buildings below ... I think. There were lots of buildings and I was trying hard to take unblurry photos.

Here's the National Gallery - and a man very surprised to see me taking photos.

And here's the Gallery inside - it could use some serious care. This, by the way, is the Courtauld Gallery.

Here's the part of town that reminded me a bit of Woodstock, where I lived and worked in Cape Town.

The one place that I didn't take photos of was the brown tower with a chicken (or perhaps rooster?) symbol on top. This was the HQ of Zanu PF - but it looks more like the HQ for Nando's, the chicken restaurant. Robbie explained to me that the Zimbabwean equivalent of Nando's is Chicken In (or Chicken Inn?) and so locals refer to the Zanu PF building as Chicken Out. It's equal parts terrible and absurd - but I suppose as long as people can laugh at the absurdity, there's hope.

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