I can't remember when it started. It's difficult to say when. Was it after Black Friday, on November 14, 1997, when the Zimbabwe dollar crashed and lost 71% of its value against the US dollar? Was it because of the economic structural programme before that? Was it with one election or another, when things did not change no matter which way we voted?
At some point, the companies started closing down. At some point, there were more graduates than we could give jobs. At some point, almost every young person had 'leaving the country' as a top option future plans. for At some point hunger made sitting on the pavement seem more dignified than we had previously thought it to be.
So now we sit there. In our hundreds. We sit along pathways and highways. We sit outside the doorways of shops and in the gateways of formal commerce. We're a nation of vendors now. Everything is for sale. From sandals to US dollars to human bodies to souls. When hunger bites, nothing is sacred.
The streets become marketplaces and bedrooms and toilets. The cold concrete and relentless dust become a promise of food on the table; a promise which even our independence could not keep.