Home > Development, Zimbabwe > 101 guide to surviving in Zimbabwe

101 guide to surviving in Zimbabwe

Africa in hearts

Africa in hearts (Photo credit: futureatlas.com)


I am sure this guide can just about work wherever you are in Africa. First and foremost, don’t worry be hep… Thae all your time to read all the 101 point, there is lots of time in Africa hey.

  1. Don’t worry be happy.
  2. Take it easy
  3. Enjoy the sun!!
  4. Enjoy great wholesome food, most of which is organic. You may not find Michelin Star restaurants, but enjoy the best of African ingredients.
  5. Fall in love with Colcom borewores, the best African sausage that is difficult to replicate anywhere else in the world. Enjoy Zimbabwean beef and Zimbabwean food in general.
  6. Develop a taste for biltong- dried marinated meat. Yum, that is a snack and a half.
  7. Try some real African beer like Castle. It may be difficult to find Guinness but there is always the real African beer.
  8. Love fanta orange and fanta grape, there are no substitutes.
  9. If you thought that high juice was nice, try the highest African juice. Mazoe Orange crush made with 50% orange juice. Chill a pitcher in your fridge and have a sip in the middle of a hot October afternoon. Let’s face it, you will just have to love all the Mazoe juices, blackcurrant is to die for.
  10. Try out some Chibuku, hari yemadzisawhira, the brew for best buddies. This is a real malt and should at least be tried once. (I personally don’t drink and can’t get past the smell of beer and chibuku, so I’d be lying if I told you how they tasted.)
  11. Dried Mopani worms are a delicacy and need to be tried out.
  12. Go to Mbare Musika and experience life in one of Zimbabwe’s oldest locations.
  13. Explore the great African outdoors. If you need a break, go explore the great African outdoors.
  14. Get in touch with nature. I personally love the Eastern Highlands, the views, mountains, rivers, falls, streams and the peace and tranquility.
  15. Don’t hit people in the face with modern thinking; they are still quite conservative in their thinking and beliefs. they may hit you back.
  16. Gays are not accepted yet so it’s not a plan to wear your leggings and high heels if you’re a guy.
  17.  Miniskirts and low cleavages are still frowned at. I heard a couple of guys boasting about tearing a top that was revealing too much. There is a time and place for this, If you are in the Northern suburbs, it’s ok, but if you are planning to catch a combi, that wouldn’t be the greatest idea.
  18. It zviripo. Adjust quickly, that is the best way to fit in, because you could certainly stick out like a sore thumb or get remembered for the wrong reasons. Do what is there. Don’t build a castle in the sky.
  19. Pride comes before fall. IT is never wrong to take the humble road. As the bible says, rather sit at the back and then be called forward to the best seats than to assume the best seats and then be relegated to the back. Even if you are worth millions, take the route of humility. Millions can disappear overnight in the current economy.
  20. Don’t try to be the savior. You are not Jesus Christ! Once again take the route of humility and seek wisdom from locals who know understand and know how things work.
  21. There is lots of time in Africa, so don’t use Western standards of time.
  22. There is nothing called a free lunch. You will pay for it one day in one way or another.
  23. Don’t be duped, don’t trust everyone.
  24. Adapt to changes as soon as they come.
  25. Don’t be selfish, there is enough to go round. Think about the next person, selfishness doesn’t give any rewards.
  26. Don’t compete with the Jones’s, or rather the Khumalo’s, they may just be living a lie.
  27. Keep things simple. The KISS formula is an asset, keep things simple silly. Don’t complicate processes and procedures. It makes life easier for yourself and for others.
  28. Innovate change. Don’t get stuck in the 20th century.
  29. Be open to change.
  30. Move with the times. Don’t be a dinosaur.
  31. Put a smile on someone else’s face.
  32. A lot of work is muntu-matic, that is people-matic. Be prepared to use your own blood, sweat and tears. Or if you like you can hire someone else to do it for you. There is a lot of labour floating around, but at least pay them a decent wage.
  33. Don’t abuse those in need. Surely the guy came knocking on your door looking for work and offered to even work just for a bit of food. If you can, pay him a good days wages, you will reap what you sow.
  34. Politicians are corrupt, if you are not planning on fighting corruption, get used to the constant corruption reported in the papers.
  35. There is no real freedom of speech. Watch what you say.
  36. Expect to be asked for bribe, but don’t pay it.
  37. Expect to go to government departments a hundred times before you get what you need.
  38. Expect to queue for all the services that you need.
  39. Paying bills is not simple, you cannot do it online. You have to wait in long queues.
  40. Don’t expect a response immediately; be prepared to wait for months.
  41. It takes months or years to get a single thing done.
  42. If you send an email, don’t expect a response, most people don’t even check their email.
  43. Don’t believe it when they say I’ll be there in five minutes; expect to wait for an hour. Don’t plan your day around someone; they can keep you waiting all day.
  44. Always have a plan B!!! Nothing is a done deal. Things can go wrong.
  45. Buses have no timetables. Commuter Omni buses have no timetables.
  46. Don’t believe it when they say only one person is left to fill the bus, the rest are usually touts who will get off once you are on. Don’t travel last minute; leave enough time to get to your destination. There are no fast trains here.
  47. Drive carefully, speed kills. Africa records the highest road accidents in the world.
  48. Be prepared to go around in circles looking for answers and information. Information is a very scarce resource.
  49. Most office workers spend their days reading the newspaper and chatting on social networks instead of working.
  50. It is almost impossible to get the help you need from a government department.
  51. Complaining doesn’t usually get you anywhere.
  52. Knowing your rights doesn’t usually help you in any way. I was once given a road traffic ticket for knowing too much, i.e. for knowing my rights.
  53. The customer is not king. Customer service is a term in a text book.
  54. Don’t try and teach anything new, the people usually think they know everything.
  55. Ignorance is as abundant as sand on a beach.
  56. Beware of dogs, they usually bite and they may have rabies. Dogs are not usually kept as pets; they are weapons and are used to protect property.
  57. Don’t buy cheap designer goods. They are fake. Even department stores sell FAKE goods.
  58. Don’t get too attached to stuff, it may not be there tomorrow. Don’t too attached to local stores, vendors etc, they can go bust overnight, e.g. Mitchell’s biscuits. Businesses don’t usually last longer than five years.
  59. Careful you don’t get ripped off and be aware of conmen who promise you the world for little investment. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
  60. Be careful not to pay someone to do their job. I see people paying to skip queues, paying to get into a building, paying to have a query resolved, paying to get help. If we all refused to pay, corruption would be stemmed out quickly.
  61. The police may just about be your biggest foe. If asked for a bribe, get the details of the officer and report the officer to the nearest police station. If they get three complaints, they will be taken off the road.
  62. Be careful to observe the rules of the road or you give the police officer leverage over you.
  63. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher, a reflector vest and a reflector triangle in your private car or you will be fined US$20 for each item you do not have.
  64. Always request for a ticket and don’t pay a spot fine. Be prepared to stop at road blocks every kilometer. Don’t estimate your time of arrival because of road blocks.
  65. Don’t trust anyone, not even the policeman.
  66. Use a lot of sunscreen. Enjoy the sun, but protect yourself, even if you have black skin. Be sure to apply a lot of sunscreen on children before they go out to play.
  67. We are all equal, but others are more equal than other.
  68. The law may not work the way it is supposed to. Others are above the law and don’t be so sure you will get a fair trial. Those with the right connections often get away with heinous crimes and corruption.
  69. Be aware of dreaded diseases, THEY KILL. Of note are cholera, typhoid, bilhazia, HIV and Aids.
  70. Wash fruit and veges well before enjoying them.
  71. Enjoy the rich African culture. If you cannot speak a local language, take pride in your roots and learn. If you have any children, teach them the language that makes them of Zimbabwean descent. Take a cue from Nigerians and Ghanaians who can easily switch from Cockney English to Yoruba in a split second. My friend decided to teach her child Shona after witnessing a Chinese child speak fluent English with her pals and as soon as her mother came to fetch her, her tone changed as switched from English to Mandarin. Be proud of the rich Zimbabwean heritage that we share.
  72. Don’t put on your accent when talking to locals. If you’re buying something from them they will charge you more. If you have a vernacular name, rather speak vernacular. Speak Shona or vernacular unless you are with English speaking people.
  73. Find a good doctor and dentist. The medical profession is no longer so professional.
  74. Find good schools for your children. Monitor their progress personally and don’t depend just on the teachers to do their work. Some don’t. A lot of government schools still have a high standard of education and come up top of the best performers list. Everyone now knows the importance of education and parents and students now go the extra mile and don’t depend on teachers alone.
  75. Train up your children in the way that they should go. Modern parents think that spanking a child is child abuse, on the contrary, not spanking your child is as good as child abuse. Spoilt brats will find it difficult to integrate into society. A good hiding never killed anyone, we had  a lot of those in our times and that’s why we came out just alright
  76. Be prepared to pay for a car radio license, bicycle license and a dog license.
  77. If you do not like local Zimbabwean content, get yourself DStv, but don’t forget to renew your ZBC TV license.
  78. Enjoy Zim beef, it’s the best.
  79. Get yourself at least two degrees and at least two masters degree and a doctorate while you are at it.
  80. Enjoy living in a land where you are not required to produce your id or passport at random.
  81. Enjoy the freedom of being in the motherland!!!
  82. When in Rome do what the Romans do.
  83. Don’t make a show of your money because with the cost of living in Zimbabwe, it could run out in a week. Be prudent with your money. Don’t splash out where it is not necessary.
  84. There is no need to buy all the local lads a drink. Once your money is finished, they will be laughing in your face.
  85. Think ahead and plan in advance. Have a strong contingency plan because things do not often turn out the way you planned.
  86. Don’t underestimate the locals (Usadherere maface); they may be savvier than you think. They got game and the money to play the game) Rather glean from their local knowledge. Watch and learn.
  87. Do not be envious of evil men. Some earn their fortunes through devious ways. You can get reeled into their web. There are a lot of dodgy things going around all for the love of money; you can get reeled into that web, so beware.
  88. Things are not always as they seem.
  89. Do not faint in the day of adversity. Challenges come, but you can overcome. Don’t give up.
  90. Potholes are part of Zim life. You will find them everywhere you go.
  91. Power cuts are part of life. Prepare, get a gas stove, generator or better still, go solar.
  92. Prices go up often, even though the US$ is now the legal tender. It may be a wise thing not to compare every item you buy, because you may just walk out of the shop with nothing. I try not to buy much in Zimbabwe except real Zimbabwean produce and basics. Everything else is overpriced.
  93. If you are relocating, make sure you have ducks in row; Zimra will have you for lunch.
  94. In some areas there is no water supply and some areas experience water rationing. So if you are buying a house in Greendale and Mandara, be prepared to buy your everyday water as well. It’s all about adjusting.
  95. Love Zimbabwean food. Sadza is as Zimbo is it gets. Oxtail, mazondo, matumbu and maguru (tripe) make us Zimbabwean. The Chinese have invaded the world with Chinese food. Sadza may not take over the world, but we might as well love it the way Nigerians love their fufu.
  96. Don’t get hung up on getting a job. These are few and far between. Instead, create jobs for other people, solve a problem and the financial rewards will follow. If a thousand people created ten jobs, we’d have ten thousand jobs. I haven’t heard of ten thousand jobs being created in Zimbabwe, the news usually tells of jobs getting lost.
  97. Don’t reinvest the wheel. There is a reason why things are done the way they are done for a reason.
  98. Walk in integrity. Short cuts often backfire. Better to be a person of character because character will take you further than your gift can.
  99. Be original. Everyone gets on a bus and goes somewhere to buy something. If you are a designer, design your own clothes and launch your own label. Follow your heart and do what you love. The rewards may not be instant, but they will come.
  100. Keep persevering. If you have chosen to make Zimbabwe home, stick with it. All the local people make a living one way or the other. So can you. Let your creative juices flow.
  101. Again, don’t worry be happy.
Categories: Development, Zimbabwe
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