My first trip to a small town called ‘Zvishavane’ a.ka Shabani


I have been a nomad for as long as I can remember. I believe I don’t belong anywhere in particular, I belong everywhere. I’ve lived and spent a significant amount of time in various places that I can call home. I have travelled for a big part of my young life, not touring places but literally on the road.
I was born in Harare and called the place home for a considerable number of years. I ended up shifting between Norton and Marondera but they’re satellite towns so I’m not entirely out of the City. I spent 5 years at University in Bulawayo. I have experienced life in Gaborone for over 19 years and thus my mind was too drawn to life in the city. It never once occured to me that I would move to a small town a world away from City life.
The opportunity to live in Zvishavane presented itself during fourth year of my studies at University. Never in a million years would I have assumed that one day I would live there. It is required that each student spends at least 8 months attached/interning at a company usually within Zimbabwe. In that period one gains professional experience and merges book knowledge with technical and more practical skills. One thing I learnt quite fast at the time was that with my degree program I would probably work in remote areas at some point, sadly away from the city. I had spent about a month in Harare and was easing into the fast life. The call to travel for mandatory medicals in Zvishavane came and I had to promptly leave everything behind. My focus had to be on what lay ahead. The medicals are carried out prior to commencing work. They determine if you’re healthy and capable of handling the workload awaiting you. I had never been to Zvishavane before, didn’t even have a clue where it lies on the map and I made good use of Google to get myself prepared.
The one thing about Zvishavane I was confident about is that I had a close friend studying there. We met in high school and became friends ever since. I quickly got in touch with him and planned my trip. He offered me accommodation for my brief visit. He also encouraged me to board the bus at Mbare Musika and to use the Gweru route. To get to Zvishavane you either go via Gweru or via Masvingo. The Masvingo route feels shorter. The road between Beatrice and Masvingo ‘was’, for a time, probably one of the most dangerous. It was too narrow for comfort and carried the bulk of transport moving between Zimbabwe and South Africa. This includes laden trucks and passenger-filled buses. The Gweru route on the other hand holds probably the best highway in all Zimbabwe yet it’s quite a stretch. More so due to the unending stops between towns. 😩😩 At every town, the bus stops to pick and drop passengers at times for over 30 minutes. One can easily get frustrated and exhausted from all this.
On the day of the journey I got up quite early and got to the bus on time thanks to my uncle who ferried me to Mbare Bus Terminus. I must say I’ve travelled on a number of buses, luxury coaches, small buses, old buses, buses that break down and delay your journey by a day, even travelled as a standing passenger for over 200km. In all fairness I think I’ve seen a good number of things to appreciate a decent journey. In all this there’s very few buses that have been consistent, punctual and very time-conscious. Only one stands out always, the Eagleliner bus on the Harare-Bulawayo route. I believe that’s their appeal. On this day however, InterAfrica outdid themselves. We were off the terminus at exactly 6 am. I almost missed the bus though 😅😅 . I must say that jerk the bus makes which indicates that we’re going for ‘real’ now got me excited about the journey. They set off as soon as I found my seat.
Whenever I get on the highway, a wave of excitement hits me. Just the feeling of going somewhere gets me kicking. I’m not sure if it’s the winding of the roads, the trees racing on the roadside or the exhilaration as the car or bus devours the road 😂😂. I just get excited everytime. Since I got up quite early on this day, I deprived myself of a few more hours of sleep. I decided to settle the score after we set off. Nothing really excites me between Harare and Gweru. I’ve travelled that route since I was a small boy and nothing much has changed over the years.
We arrived in Gweru around midday. In a sense arriving in Gweru feels like the journey is over. It feels as if a tree is shedding it’s leaves. Most of the passengers disembark. We waited there for quite some time while the bus filled up. It was like an epiphany when it occured to me that most people going to Zvishavane usually board the bus only in Gweru. A cousin of mine came to see me while we waited for the bus to fill up. It was great catching up with him. Different passengers boarded the bus, the young and old, nursing mothers and even vendors with woven baskets who had come to obtain their wares. I sensed somehow that the type of passengers had changed from those that had boarded before Gweru. I concluded we were probably entering a more rural area. I decided to desist from over thinking. We set off and were on our way to Zvishavane.
As you leave Gweru behind, settlements become more sparsed. Between Gweru and Zvishavane lies another town, Shurugwi. The biggest turn off on this journey are the unending stops on the road overall. These are done to pick and drop passengers. There’s so many small growth points to stop at, you easily get bored of them. I was too eager to get to Zvishavane and experience what living there would be like. The stops really made it less exciting. To top it off, the bus picked up standing passengers as well. I was sweating profusely. The sitting arrangement had its own set of troubles. If it wasn’t someone hitting my head with a basket or their elbow, they were squeezing between me on the aisle seat and the person in front or behind them. I really felt uncomfortable. Noone cared though 😂😂🙁🙁. Somehow I realised I had to settle for all this and humble myself. The heat on the other hand was having a go at us. It was quite hot on the day. I also noticed that the shona dialect prevalent in this area had shifted from what I’m accustomed to. I took it all in and braced myself for what lay ahead.

To be continued……..

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