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Economic lessons from a marathon

Grace Chirenje
THE Econet Victoria Falls Marathon on July 3, 2022, turned the resort town into a hive of activity. One could easily drown in the excitement as everyone had a marathon vibe.

There were so many people and a lot of planning put into the event by various stakeholders. Interests around this event were as wide as were the distances between the runners.

As I witnessed the hive of activities, I was reminded, as am always, of the Zimbabwean narrative. The way we relate with our economy is almost as chaotic and confusing as a marathon onlooker might deduce, especially at the beginning of the event.

The myriad of interests and narratives
There has been quite a vast amount of views around the gold coin — oh my, what a way to enhance wealth for the power that be. First and foremost, the woman on the street selling tomatoes to make a living has no idea what this coin is about. Honestly, my grannies are not aware of what this gold coin entails. I am very doubtful there has been enough information around this gold coin narrative for the women and grandmothers to understand what is happening.

It is flying over their heads just like those people I saw by the supermarket and bank during the Victoria Falls Marathon – oblivious of the events around them of the “biggest marathon in Africa”.

A colleague said the gold coin has nothing to do with the economics of the masses. It is about protecting the interests of the rich, after all, laws are made for the rich! Sad.

Then we have onlookers who just sit there and watch, then cheer on the runners with admiration, encouragement and zeal. They do not even look like they have ever imagined running a marathon. They also seem to know that a word of cheer will go a long way! Onlookers are there as the economy continues to do acrobatics and the powers that be grapple with making the gold coin and whatever initiatives work.

It is not an easy one to balance — it is difficult! We applaud the efforts but are still to experience the recovery — it has been how long again?

Well, never mind, the struggle for economic emancipation always feels like a lifetime especially if one is not part of the wealthy crony gang. Ouch!

Then we have those who just came to the Victoria Falls to hang out.

It is almost like the way deals are happening under the watchful eye of those who are running the state of affairs and the seeming “ignorance” around what is being done.

Corruption is real in Zimbabwe, the learned ones have argued, so truthfully so that corruption is endemic in Zimbabwe. The more the runners push, just like the economists do, in all manner of ways, the more it seems the strength is being lost around ensuring that corruption is booted and ended. It is just so energy sapping.

It is almost like being honest is a crime and should never be accepted. Meanwhile, the woman on the street hoping to make ends meet — is the marathon runner from a foreign country who is unaware of the language and communication. We do need to do better.

The hope
As we ran, we came across other runners we have never met in our lives. We held hands, chatted, encouraged each other and kept on talking until we reached the much desired finishing point of the race. Zimbabwe, no one is coming to save us. What we face is a widespread narrative that is felt and lived by many around the world.

This does not mean we minimise our lived realities as a people, no. This is just to say that if we want our economic narrative to change, we as a people need to begin to explore ways of making life work as Zimbabweans. This is not the time to look up to the government for solutions — if the gold coin narrative is anything to go by then we need to save ourselves by ourselves, especially the masses. It begins with knowledge sharing. Those of us who are more aware, conscious and knowing could share information so that each and every Zimbabwean is aware of what is going on economically around us.

It could also mean encouraging each other to live within our means or even stop being stereotypical around what it means to be a “real” man or woman so we liberate and emancipate ourselves from falling prey to narratives that will destroy us as a people. Money is good but should not be our all in all. Knowledge is power and there is a need to make sure we push for understanding so that Zimbabweans can live their lives with the proper information and ways of knowing. We cannot keep duplicating the madness we lived in years ago. Now is the time to come together and make basic economic literacy work for our people.

Once equipped with information, it will become easier to approach our local leaders so that we bring our heads together and explore ways of making life work for the sister and brother who is seated by the corner, selling, whatever, they can to make ends meet. Yes, it is critical to understand the bigger and overarching economics but let us start with the basics.

After all, it is those people by the water points who generously give us water, Coca Cola and tiny pieces of fruit that keep the energy alive so the runner in the marathon keeps going. We can come together and make a difference. Until then, we live, laugh and love in a bid to show the world that we were here, becoming better, making our mark, leaving our footprint as we make the world a better place!

  • Grace Chirenje writes in her personal capacity as a citizen of Zimbabwe. Follow her on social media for more Lifezone with Grace conversations on Twitter: @graceruvimbo;
  • Facebook: Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje; Instagram: @graceruvimbo

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