Home » Judicial » When Street History Repeats Itself

The street was his home for the first six years of his life. Each morning, his mother would carry him to the pavements of Harare’s streets in the CBD where she sold vegetables.

Just like any vendor with an infant in the street pavements, Tinashe’s mother worried about his security.

To keep her close to her, she would tie a rope on his ankle, attach it to a pole and go about looking for customers.

Today, Tinashe (15) recalls every episode of his childhood. Nothing has changed. His life is like a curse.

“She would tie my ankle to keep me close to where she was. I got used to that,” said Tinashe.

He added: “Sometimes she would leave me on the spot after being chased away by the city council. She would return after a few minutes.

“The litter in the streets’ pavement became my toys and watching movements of people walking up and down the streets ended up being a hobby.”

Tinashe was practically raised in the streets. His mother would spend the whole day in town and only a few hours at home.

He admired the life of other children his age who were going to nursery school during that time.

“I always asked my mum why I could not go to nursery schools like the other children in my community. I felt like an abnormal child because I never knew my father. Up to now, I don’t even know what it feels like to have a father.

“Every time I sat on the streets pavement I would deeply admire other small children getting toys from their fathers.”

He said his mother told him they were poor and she could not afford to pay school fees.

They stayed in a small one-roomed house in Epworth’s Munyuki.

His mother also struggled to pay rentals and food was hard to come by. They always had two meals per day at most.

Adds Tinashe: “The amount of food we ate daily was determined by the sales that my mother would have made on the day.

“Sometimes we would eat one meal per day especially during the time when most vegetables were in season resulting in stiff competition for customers.”

The situation worsened when his mother died in 2006.

“She was my pillar of strength. I was only seven and had not even begun school when she died,” he said.

After his mother’s burial, Tinashe was adopted by his maternal grandmother, Ambuya Dee.

During that time Ambuya Dee was living in Goromonzi.

“Although my grandmother was very old, she earned a living through doing part-time jobs because she had no one to look after her. She never had her own homestead.

“When we arrived in Goromonzi, she introduced me to a man she said was my uncle. This man stayed with his wife and three children.

“We stayed at the homestead for more than six years without any problems. With the little that my grandmother earned, she managed to pay my school fees.

“I skipped Grade One and started Grade Two because of my age,” explained Tinashe.

At Mapfumi Primary School in Goromonzi fees were only US$15 and his grandmother would make sure she paid on time.

She also stood by her grandson and supported his schooling for five years before the two were chased away by their so-called uncle.

“Problems started emanating when Gogo fell sick in June this year. She could not do part- time jobs anymore. Therefore, I dropped out of school and started doing part-time jobs to feed her because my uncle concentrated on his own family.”

Within the same month, he was chased away from the homestead together with his grandmother.

The two were ordered to leave his uncle’s premises after a ferocious fight over food.

“I asked my uncle for a few slices of bread because I had not secured any part-time jobs that week. We had no food.

“However, his wife started shouting at me before Gogo intervened. Then my uncle had a fight with Gogo which led to our departure from his homestead.

“We packed our few clothes and I suggested that we go in the streets since we were now homeless.”

Tinashe also has dreams and aspiration.

He wants to live a normal live that has nothing to do with the streets.

It is unfortunate that things beyond his control always bring him back to the streets. Now the streets of Harare are his home once again, only this time he will be living with his grandmother.

“The streets pavements are my playground just like a decade ago.

“I sleep behind the public toilets near the Africa Unity Square in Harare together with my grandmother. We wait for people to leave town before we go to bed.

“Our bed is a pile of hard cardboard boxes. We do not have blankets. When we moved to town we had two blankets but they were stolen from where we were hiding them.”

He said his grandmother carries all his clothes wherever she goes. Every morning he wakes up and helps his grandmother to cross the roads until she arrives at her lucky spot where she begs.

“I bath in Kwamula River, near Braeside.

“I walk there once or twice a week to bath myself and accompany Gogo so that she baths as well.”

Source : The Herald