Opinion & Analysis

Festive season in the shoes of a vendor

Manica Post

WHILE everyone was at home merry-making on Unity, Christmas and Boxing days as well as the public holiday that followed, a holiday that spanned from last week on Thursday to Tuesday, there were unsung heroes and heroines who were on their toes during those days.

It was not business as usual for vendors across the city.

Second hand clothing, food and goods vendors were all over the busiest vending sites and roads, turning the areas into hyperactive markets, selling their wares to passers-by.

It was brisk business for them especially on Christmas Day, a day most are expected to be resting and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ with their families or church members.

These heroes and heroines celebrated their Christmas holiday on the pavements or market places, plying their trade, selling their produce to late Christmas shoppers.

A seasoned vendor, Gogo Chipo Mavhura from Chikanga Produce Market, said the high turn-up of customers on Christmas Day was a result of the relaxing of the Covid-19 lockdown safety measures that restricted people from travelling in recent years.

On high demand were vegetables like cabbages, green beans, peas, carrots, apples and potatoes, ingredients which are normally used to prepare vegetable salads.

She, however, said, the high turn-up of Christmas shoppers was a good sign that the coming year will be a better one for them.

vendor in street pavements

“I think this whole frenzy is because we did not celebrate the festive season during the past two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown safety measures. This time around, people managed to travel across borders to be at home with their loved ones and this is why business is roaring for us.

“I cannot go home and merry make while knowing that I can make a lot of money here. I will be selling my produce until midday and then go home to be with my family,” she said.

While others are African Tradition Religion believers and others are atheists or belong to other religions, in Zimbabwe, Christmas Day is a holiday where families, despite religions meet and celebrate their well beings and having made it to the end of the year.

“I am a Christian, a Catholic to be precise and my children are already at church for Christmas Mass. I will join them at home later, but I have to make money first for me to be able to look after them in January.

“I arrived at the market at around 4am like any other vending day, but it is a hectic day.

“People are flocking here in their numbers. The market has always been busy, but not this busy. I hope business will be the same over the week as we prepare for New Year’s Day, as well as on New Year’s Day. I am actually stocking up my produce so that I have more to sell over the weekend,” said the woman.

It was evident enough that business was more than good as people kept coming in and buying vegetables.

Another vendor, who only identified herself as Mai Chikonyora, said business doubled on Christmas eve.

“We experienced a very high turnout yesterday (last week on Saturday) even though it was Christmas eve. When the market closed, people were still coming and we had to camp outside the locked market gates selling our produce.

“We decided to come back today (Christmas Day) and sell our stuff because not everyone was able to buy yesterday. There are always late shoppers.

“This is a first for me to be absent from home during the morning hours of Christmas Day, but I think it was worth it,” she said.

Second hand clothing vendors were not left out as they sold clothes and other Christmas goodies.

Around lunchtime, a good number of illegal produce vendors in the Central Business District were also busy selling butternuts, grapes, plums, tomatoes and many other vegetables and fruits.

Ms Charity Masungo who travels from Odzi daily to sell her green mealies and plums in the city, said it was business as usual.

“For green mealies, I had fewer customers this holiday, but my plums were sold out. I am here because I know that this is the time to make money because most people are not hesitant to buy our stuff during the holidays.

“Business was good. A plate of grapes or a pocket of plums were going for a dollar. We are expecting that business will either be the same or better on New Year’s Day,” she said.

Ms Masungo said they usually celebrate Christmas as a family in the afternoon as she would be working in the morning.

Manica Post

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