Diary of a Street Kid

By Fanuel Jongwe

25 September 1993

Yesterday evening was hell-hot. A bad day. Someone stole, or the Municipal Refuse and Cleansing Department men burned, the cardboard I usually slept on. Insomnia. I spent the long hot vermin-infested night rolling on the dusty ground under the Rezende Street North Parkade where poor punters-men and -women bet their pittances away every day, but on Sunday I had trouble with the fat guard in the railway station waiting room.

Maki was arrested by a member of the Special Constabulary. He was caught sniffing thinners in the alley between a cloth shop in Robson Manyika Street and the Central Police Station building.

Collected $4.23Z today. Bought bread and a tomato.

29 September 1993

Woke up late to an empty day. Feeling really hungry--hungry as five Somalis. The refuse-collecting trucks had already left with the trash and our food when I was frightened out of my late-morning slumber by the blare of a bus horn. The Power Sales accounts manager, whose car I usually guard, did not come to work so no money, no food, no nothing--absolutely nothing today.

1 October 1993

A scuffle over a newly-arrived Zimtours Land Rover with the big boys at the National Gallery Car Park. 'This is our territory, our area of operation,' one of them told me through a gap where his front teeth were missing.

Am writing this at noon. Painfully tired and my body is shaking with hunger. I have been feeling dizzy and my vision is blurred. Nearly crashed into a speeding Medical Air Rescue Services ambulance while trying to cross Union Avenue. Harare is turning a blind eye on me. Everyone is engrossed in his own business.

It's evening now. Dusk has descended like a giant's eyelid closing. Neon signs are blinking advertisements. Street lamps are glaring down upon the busy streets. A fruitless day. For the first time in my life in the Hararean streets, I have spent the whole day on an empty rumbling stomach. How I wish everything was edible.

I remember the story--I still find hard to believe--of hungry Chinese blokes who cooked and ate their boots when their food reserves ran dry during the Long March. I have no boots to roast and eat like the Chinese did, but a pair of dry cracked feet.

2 October 1993

Feeling drowsy. I am afraid of sleeping. I might fall asleep forever like Dostoyevsky's Beggar Boy. Grandmother used to threaten me when I refused to eat supper: 'If you don't eat, you'll die in your sleep.'


Saved at last from the brink of the abyss. A brilliant tourist couple on a late evening stroll saw me trembling with hunger, pitied me and bought me a chicken--a full chicken, intact in its Chicken Inn pack. A Christmas feast on an October evening. Feeling strong again. Yes, tourists have "hearts of gold."

(Fanuel Jongwe is a free-lance journalist whose work appears in the Harare Sunday Mail)