Time tenants, landlords co-exist

By IAfrica
In Zimbabwe
Aug 1st, 2014

Rosenthal Mutakati Ghetto Blast

Unschooled landlords are known for demanding beer from tenants and failure to comply often results in them wielding the axe on the “unco-operative” bloke.

WE were ordering last ones for the road when my drinking mate’s spouse burst into the dimly lit dingy bar with emotion written all over her small face which had a fair share of pimples.

But of all places, what would have goaded the staunch member of the apostolic faith to venture into the bar.
So deeply troubled she was that without caring to exchange greetings she cooed: “Charlie dai watsvaga hako kumwe kwekugara nekuti baba vepamba paya nemudzimai wavo vandinetsa. Each time our child visits the toilet, they come screaming that he has messed the facility. Ndakutya kugara navo.”
She railed and railed about the abuses she was enduring at the hands of her landlord.

“Dai Mwari akavaitira zvakanaka. These people mean no good. It means our relatives cannot pay us a visit. Their young children also have the cheek to boss me around kunge ndiri mukadzi wavo. Kana usingadi kutama ini ndichadzokera zvangu kuvabereki vangu,” the woman said with tears streaming down her cheeks.

For a moment everyone, including ruthless analysts with a predilection for poking fun even in the most serious of situations, kept quiet sympathising with her.
The woman’s sentiments were echoed by almost everyone in the bar.

People who were close by also gave sordid accounts of their ordeals under people called landlords.
“Kuroja chete, kuroja chete kwandaida/Ndikatenga chikafu imi modawo chenyu, mari yacho ndinoiwanepi?/Nhasi mandidzinga zvisina notice, ndoendepiko nevana,” sang the Bhundu Boys in this yesteryear hit which captures the trials and tribulations lodgers go through on an average day.

Gentle reader, 34 years after independence, people are going through hell at the hands of their landlords.
Called “samusha,” “LL,” “Muridzi wemba,” or “changamire” owning a house in Harare is quite a big status simple.

No matter how small your house may be, the mere fact that you can decide — without consulting anyone — the kind of vegetables to grow and pets to keep in the yard is so refreshing.

Landlords require no one’s authority to play the radio and host a party, but the opposite is true for a tenant.
Lodgers have nowhere to plant vegetables and their only chance of laying their hands on something from the garden is when they are given aging plants when the landlord is planting new crops.

Some landlords collect cash for water and electricity bills, but do not remit the same to council resulting in disconnections which inconvenience the tenants.
Unschooled landlords are known for demanding beer from tenants and failure to comply often results in them wielding the axe on the “unco-operative” bloke.

Preparing relishes that attract flies like nyama yemusoro, guru, matemba and dried fish is not advisable when one is a lodger.
No matter that you do not subscribe to the landlord’s religious values, you are forced by circumstance to attend church services done at the house to elongate your stay.

If the landlord happens to have many relatives than his house can accommodate, you are sometimes asked — though without an option to refuse — to accommodate these people without raising any questions.

Sons and daughters of landlords sharpen their quarrelling skills on hapless tenants who cannot hit back for fear of being asked politely to look for alternative accommodation.

Your daughter can be kissed publicly or be impregnated by the landlord’s son, but for as long as you still want to remain at their dwelling, you have limited chances of raising displeasure.

It can be worse if you have a talkative wife because in nine times out of 10 you are caught offside and sent packing.
“Mushonga wedzungu imbama uye kana zvanetsa roja ngarirove pasi,” you hear people saying while downing opaque beer in bars and shebeens dotted across the communities in which we live.

So debasing it is to be a tenant that this can be a source of ridicule or a nickname for you.
At schools in the ghetto you children can never pick an argument without being told: “Tinyararireiwo apo. Mungatiudzeiko vana vemaroja.”
Being a tenant is as if you have no rights.

So nagging are some landlords that they prescribe the kind of church you should go to.
Nothing escapes a reprimand.

“Masekero amuri kuita ayo anozoita kuti vavakidzani vafunge kuti ndavakupenga. Handina roja rinogeza ini ndisati ndageza,” some people declare.
If there is no water, only the father of the house and his immediate family can use the toilet.

Gentle reader, the surge in people building homes in swampy areas and other undesignated points to the number of people who are prepared to take risks to escape from these nagging landlords.

A visit to the ghetto these days will show that most people have left their parents’ houses and have built in former empty spaces that were used as places of prayer by members of the apostolic faith.

A drive along High Glen Road from where it starts at the Kuwadzana roundabout right to Makoni Turnoff in Chitungwiza will show a new breed of landlords. These people are building all manner of houses even in riverbanks and on hilltops without water and sewage facilities. There are also no roads to these houses which I doubt were built with plans and site visits by council house inspectors.

People just now want peace of mind. News that Chitungwiza authorities had applied for authority to demolish over 15 000 houses built illegally in the area makes sad reading.

Sad because that action exerts pressure on the old houses and funnels these souls and members of their families to the challenges of being nagged by landlords.
Gentle reader, landlords and tenants must live in peace while those intending to build houses should do so in conference with the law.

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