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Lightning & Copper, Harare, Zimbabwe (Photo Diary)

We returned to Harare and stayed with our Zimbabwean friends, Bruce and Nicola. It was fascinating to hear about how people coped during the desperate days of hyperinflation, when the enormously devalued Zimbabwean dollar was not even worth the paper that it was printed on. Thankfully, it was replaced by the US dollar in 2009 but before then Nicola would regularly sign cheques for trillions of Zimbabwean dollars and any money earned was spent as quickly as possible because it would be worth less later that very day. Being a guilt free shopping trillionaire does not sound too bad but as the economy collapsed, all basic necessitates became so scarce that queues at petrol stations, shops and banks rivalled those for rides at Disney Land during school holidays. Many Zimbabweans were forced to hire professional queuers in order to survive. Bank queues were particularly grim as you were only allowed to withdraw 500,000 Zimbabwean dollars per bank per day which was the equivalent of about 25 US cents and worth less than a loaf of bread. We spoke to people who had as many as eight bank accounts to try and get around this limit.

Supermarket shelves were practically bare and what little produce they did have could quadruple in price by the time you reached the checkout. Many people resorted to travelling all the way to Johannesburg in South Africa to buy groceries. This is why so many highjackings have taken place on the road from the Beitbridge border crossing (we were warned that we must not, under any circumstances, stop for anything or anyone); highjackers know that vehicles coming from or going to South Africa will most likely either carry expensive supplies or lots of hard cash.

Other Zimbabweans, like Bruce and Nicola, became totally self sufficient. They now have cows, sheep, ducks, chickens, fruit trees and the best veggie patch that we have ever seen. Just about every ingredient used in the amazing meals that we enjoyed with them came straight out of their garden.

Beautiful view of rocks and sky just outside of Harare, Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is one of the world's most lightning prone countries due to its high abundance in granite outcrops (granite is radioactive and discharges gamma rays up in to the clouds which ionise the air molecules and attract the lightning charge). Zimbabwe even holds the record for the most people killed by a single bolt (21 victims sheltering in a hut in Mutare in 1975).


Sun shining on rocks just outside of Harare, Zimbabwe.

We joined Bruce, Nicola and their kids for extreme sundowners on top of a granite outcrop.


Lachlan pulling crazy face with hair standing up due to static electricity, Harare, Zimbabwe.

The watercolour sky was soon electrified with nearby lightening bolts. So close, our hair stuck right up on end! Not a good sign.


Children playing during sunset, Harare, Zimbabwe.

On the way back to the car, the children played in puddles of sunlight and the warm evening air was rich with frog ballads.


Copper mugs made by Copperwares, Harare, Zimbabwe.

Bruce and Nicola have a wonderful business called Copperwares which employs around a hundred Zimbabweans who handcraft hundreds of different products from tableware to trophies in copper, zinc and silver.


African animal moulds at Copperwares, Harare, Zimbabwe.

Amazingly, Copperwares has managed to survive Zimbabwe's challenging economic and political times.


Men working at Copperwares, Harare, Zimbabwe.

We visited the sun filled factory and were so impressed by the skill and care that goes in to producing each product.


Polishing copper sheets at Copperwares, Harare, Zimbabwe.

Hand polished depictions of the bright African sun's rays emanated from the centres of copper backgrounds. The copper is mined in Africa.


Production line at Copperwares, Harare, Zimbabwe.

The atmosphere was heady with dexterous concentration and the drone of machinery


Creating a mould at Copperwares, Harare, Zimbabwe.

Pouring the moulds.


A finished mould at Copperwares, Harare, Zimbabwe.

The craftsmen have a real sense of pride in their work.


Polished copper bowl at Copperwares, Harare, Zimbabwe.

Copperwares export all over the world and supply the most glamourous colonial hotel that we have ever been to, The Victoria Falls Hotel, Victoria Falls.

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3 Responses to “Lightning & Copper, Harare, Zimbabwe (Photo Diary)”

  1. Oh my! The hair standing on end is absolutely bizarre. I am a little worried for you guys.

    I appreciate an informative travel post.

  2. Mike says:

    I am so glad i found your site. Fantastic photos – thank you!!

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