With many friends in Harare, I can safely call the city my home. Not that I have stayed there for many years, but the few weeks I spent there last year heralded for me a different perspective of hospitality such that I almost forgot my original home. It started with a long trip from Lagos, Nigeria, to Addis, Ethiopia, then Luanda and finally Harare. I landed at the seemingly diminutive Harare Airport at about 1am and was picked up by my soon to be friend—Belinda Mutinhiri. Belinda and two of her colleagues soon meandered the bus through the city’s empty streets and in about 45 minutes, we were at the Rainbow Tower Hotel. It was my first ever 45 minutes with Belinda, but that was long enough for me to learn how awesome she was. Belinda was full of life, grace, affection and charm. She typifies the Zimbabwean in her warm and friendly character—I later met more Zimbabweans and realized that’s just the way they were.
The Five Star Rainbow Tower Hotel is one of the biggest in the city. It may arguably be the oldest but the facilities were still exquisite—with spacious room, nice view, good restaurants and chef as well as excellent staff and service, what more can one ask for! The hotel stands tall among the many high-raising buildings that dot Harare, and my room, I could see the long stretch of the popular Samora Machel road spread before me.
People who travel to view attractions can easily visit the Heroes Acre, for an appreciation of monument and history. Constructed in the shape of the AK47 gun, the weapon of Zimbabwean liberation, the Heroes’ Acre is everything you’ll call magnificent. From seats constructed like magazines to walls with murals depicting phases of struggles for independence and statute of the Unknown Soldier, a visit is no doubt a lesson about what freedom means to the people.
I saw the burial grounds of some national heroes there too and asked my guide about the criteria for getting a space there and whether the incumbent president would be buried there whenever he passes on; with a smile she said nobody was certain, but that to be buried there one must be a true national hero.
There is also the Epiworth rock balancing and the African Unity Square. The Unity square is particularly a place to seat and watch Zimbabweans across all ages go back and forth in search for ‘daily bread’.
Talking about daily bread, if there is something I won’t forget easily about Zimbabwe, it is the food. While fufu is about the most popular food across West Africa where I was coming from, Sadza is its rival in Southern Africa, and when my friend told me it was the healthy food that had kept President Mugabe going for over 90 years, I resolved it was time I tried it out.
By evening at the hotel, I specifically looked out for Sadza. I particularly told the chef to serve me sadza and everything that goes with it. He gave me a good portion of it, with small fishes called Kapenta, peanut soup and vegetables. Of course, there were pieces of chicken and fish to accompany the food! I downed the food and washed it down good wine. By bedtime, I was praying I won’t purge the next days; well I didn’t!
*This piece is dedicated to Belinda Mutinhiri who passed on to glory on September 3rd, 2016.
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Michael-Alvin, an imaginative get-it-done wordsmith, blends uncanny taste for facts gleaned from his training in law, and journalism by UNESCO, in his travels and reports about Africa for Afro Tourism.