Monthly Archives: August 2013

Age of Zinc is proud to present the ninth installment in a new memoir from the slums of Harare, Zimbabwe. Check back every week to catch the next part of the story!

My job in the Harare Federation was to take members to register at the waiting list in the council. The federation decided which members had to register in which week. Each week we went with people from a particular group.

There was sometimes a shortage of papers with the council during that time. Sometimes the staff from Dialogue on Shelter had to help us to print the forms. I was bringing thirty or forty members or more each week.  Staff were asking, “Where are these people coming from?”

We also had meetings with the city housing department. Registration was still ongoing and we were asking for land.

The Federation in Harare was formally allocated land at Crowborough in 2002. During this time, politics was burning in the city. There was no mayor and the national government had appointed a commissioner.

We took the city commissioner to South Africa to see the work of the federation there. And when we were back we were told by the city council that they had allocated our federation 150 stands. They made this announcement on World Habitat Day in 2000. Housing cooperatives also got land in Crowborough but this was not included in the public announcement.

In terms of Crowborough, it took a long time to move forward with the signing of the agreements.  The City Council had to write to the federation. The federation identified the beneficiaries, and then they were interviewed by the council. The federation identified me as one of the beneficiaries.

You have to build when you are allocated land. Because there was no one in the federation with money, when we built we used our Gungano Fund. It was because of the Gungano loan fund that our fellow federation members in Mavambo and Victoria Falls had been able to build their houses. Now with Crowborough we would also take loans to build houses.


“The Poor Man whom everyone speaks of, the Poor Man whom everyone pities, one of the repulsive Poor from whom charitable souls keep their distance, he has still said nothing. Or, rather, he has spoken through the voice of Victor Hugo, Zola, Richepin. At least, they said so. And these shameful impostures fed their authors. Cruel irony, the Poor Man tormented with hunger feeds those who plead his case.”
— Albert Camus