So I'm reading an article in this little paper called Business Connect about this "Buy Zimbabwe" campaign that was recently launched in the capital. I had heard about this campaign and saw several other articles about it in other papers, but I did my best to ignore it, on account of my blood pressure. Then the bastards behind it went on to plan a whole seminar about it, and take time out of their busy schedules to meet and discuss how to get consumers to start buying more local products, and how best to lobby government to raise duties and limit importation of finished goods. A whole businessman by the name of Supa Mandiwanzira actually stood up to say, "...Government must put legislation in place that will force all supermarkets to put 50% of local goods on shelves at any given time." I now feel compelled to comment.
With all the common sense quite evidently seeping through my pores and making people around me smarter just by association, it amazes me that some people still choose to have seminars and such without consulting me first. Because if these learned gentlemen had taken 2 minutes to brief me that they are concerned about Zimbabweans not buying enough local products, I would have given them one devilishly simple but amazingly effective strategy:
Stop making shit.
There is no amount of campaigning that can persuade me to eat a turd. There is no legislation anyone can dream up that can force me to pay for a steaming plate of dog shit. And, unfortunately, dog shit is exactly what the majority of Zimbabwean companies are serving up and expecting us not only to buy, but to pay MORE for than the imported substitute on the basis of being patriotic. Let's take an in-depth look at some of the vaunted local products that sell-out unpatriotic Zimbos like me are shunning:
Charhon's Loose Biscuits: Affectionately known as "ma-doggie", these treats are a delight - if you have polycrystalline diamond cutters for teeth. Otherwise your teeth will disintegrate from just looking at a packet of these biscuits for too long. These are cookies for real men. I can't imagine why anyone would opt for imported Bakers Strawberry Whirls instead - unless they're gay. I think our President has gone to great lengths, on numerous occasions, to enunciate our national position on that particular group of people. If locals, particularly Zimbabwean men, continue to insist on eating soft yummy cookies that don't need a jackhammer to break, a law to ban them might well become necessary, if for no other reason than to stop us becoming pansies. These biscuits have remained the same for decades, while people's tastes have changed. Still, the dipshits at Charhon's insist on shoving them down our throats. Even when, at one time, Zimbabweans became so desperate for an alternative that they bought truckloads of dollar-for-two lemon creams from across the border, Charhon's did not budge from their strategy. Never mind that these dollar-for-two lemon creams weighed about 0.02 micrograms each and evaporated at the sight of your tongue. We just couldn't take ma-doggie anymore!
Willard's Corn Flakes: Willard's Corn Flakes have a unique ability that is as startling as it is odd - they turn soggy the second you say the word "milk" in their presence. By the time you pour the milk in, they're already porridge. How great is that?! Fuck Kellogg's - who wants corn flakes that stay crunchy and delicious for so long anyway? Unless you're a retard and need more than 2 minutes to finish a bowl of cereal. Lightbulb! Let's legislate to send all the Kellogg's Corn Flakes to hospitals for the mentally challenged! Even though they're 10c cheaper than the local version, they must be removed from the shelves before they kill the local corn flake industry, or the retards starve, whichever might come soonest. Seriously, Willard, wherever you are, do us all a favor and suffocate yourself with a fucking cereal bag.
Gloria Self-Raising Flour: The quality of this flour is as inconsistent as a woman on...well as a woman in general. It started out that you never knew how your mafet-kook (yes I know that's not the spelling, leave me alone) would come out with this flour. Now if you bake with it, you are almost guaranteed a disaster. Unless you tie the bag with a long string and hoist it up to your roof, it simply DOES NOT RISE. Sort of defeats the purpose of calling it "self-raising" - it's about as self-raising as my dick if I sat watching Thabo Mbeki skinny-dipping on a frigid winter night in Cape Town. But I suppose that's not important. The important thing is to buy Zimbabwean, and forget about imported Snowflake Self-Raising Flour which actually rises.
Fresh Produce: Mr. Mandiwanzira is quoted as saying: "It's sad that we are importing carrots and tomatoes from South Africa when local farmers are throwing away their tomatoes that would have rotten (sic) because they don't have markets." Really? Who's throwing away their tomatoes because of lack of a local market? Tomatoes?? Perhaps he was exaggerating for effect, but tomatoes are one product I know the masses in Zimbabwe are willing to buy locally. Potatoes, on the other hand, are a different story. Whereas South African potatoes come washed and look presentable, local potatoes come with clumps of red soil attached. These clumps of soil are genetically engineered to remain attached to the potato no matter what you do, until you get home and soak them for at least 30 minutes. The problem is when the store assistant weighs my potatoes at the supermarket, I want 10kg of potato only, not 8.5kg of potato and 1.5kg of soil. We all know the soil is ours - ivhu nderedu - and we will never pay for it.
Various local sweets: Crystal mints have had the same boring taste and the same packaging since I was in Grade 2. Crystal toffees still have that amazing ability to adhere to your back tooth the second you pop one into your mouth, and then slowly dissolve and leave a rather disconcerting, oily, thin film on the roof of your mouth. Despite the advancements in chewing gum technology, Dandy is still churning out the same flavors in the same packaging they had 25 years ago. Dandy bubblegum loses its taste as soon as you unwrap it, still. After approximately 1.5 seconds of chewing, the taste has disappeared like an MDC bandana at a ZANU-PF rally. Freddo chocolate is still the same Freddo chocolate I used to buy at the tuckshop in primary school, with the same stupid white and green packaging with the same stupid jokes, like "Why did Freddo cross the road?" "Because he hopped the Buy Zim campaign would get people to eat him again even though he tastes like ass." Or something like that. Should I really forego my velvety Cadbury's Chocolate Eclairs for hard-as-rock Crystal Toffees? Or forget about smooth Endearmints in favor of Crystal mints, even though they shred the roof of my mouth and leave a faintly bloody taste on my tongue? No sir, I will not.
Furniture: Entering a local furniture shop such as Pelhams, TV Sales & Hire, Banet and Harris etc. is like walking into The Land That Time Forgot. They still have the same design of lounge suites that our mothers bought before we were born. Yet here we are, the new consumer, this generation of MTV Cribs and Forbes Top 20 Celebrity Mansions on E! We don't want leather couches with polished wood in the armrests. We don't want couches that have buttons. We don't want bedroom suites that have so much wood they'd be deemed a fire hazard in any other country. We don't want velvet or floral material on our lounge suites. No, damn it. We want corner couches in white leather. We want shaggy rugs that feel like heaven under our feet. We want bedroom suites that are sexy, not just functional. As long as we don't have these made in Zimbabwe, don't expect us to "buy Zimbabwe."
Clothing: Edgars and Truworths have been flighting lots of press ads recently, showcasing their new range of work and casual wear. Trouble is, none of their designers have ever heard of Cosmo, or GQ, or any fashion magazine that exists in the world, apparently. Their clothes are appealing only to a very Christian receptionist from Budiriro going to an interview at a briefcase company which recently expanded out of the briefcase and into a cubicle on the 2nd floor of a non-descript building just opposite pa Charge Office. You can get more fashionable gear at Mr. Price in Musina for a fraction of the cost, true story. Would it really kill these idiots to glance at a style magazine now and again?
Cordials: Otherwise generically known as Mazoe, because that's what us Zimbos do. All toothpaste is Colgate, and any soft drink is Kokora. Only at a Zim restaurant can you say to the waitress "I'll have a Coke please", and she smiles sweetly and says: "Ok, what kind?" And then you...without a moment's pause, you say, "Cherry Plum". That will never happen in Indianapolis or Birmingham. Anyway, I digress. Whilst Mazoe itself is an excellent brand, all other locally produced brands in that category should be ashamed of themselves for even claiming to be brands. I bought a 2L bottle of Squish Squash Cream Soda the other day. I wouldn't have, if I'd known the mixing ratio is 1 part water to 5 parts juice. My first glass was unbelievably watery after mixing it using the universally accepted ratio of 1 part juice to 4 parts water. Mr. Mandiwanzira sir, do you know how frustrating it is to add juice, sip to taste, add juice, sip, add juice, sip, and on and on for 20 minutes before getting the taste of your juice right?! For my second glass I simply resorted to using a shot glass to measure one shot of water, then filled up the glass with juice. You don't dare put ice in a glass of Squish Squash - may as well drink a glass of colored water. Tacoola, Quench, Citrade - all the shit's the same. Is it any wonder I now choose to stick to Ceres or Liqui-Fruit when I can't get Mazoe?
Eversharp pens: Before I rant about Eversharp pens, I must give credit where it's due. Despite what I'm about to say about them, the honest truth is that ever since I was allowed to use a pen in school, I have been guaranteed that no matter where an Eversharp pen has been, when I needed to write, the thing writes! It generally doesn't need persuading, it doesn't think twice, it doesn't stutter, it just writes. Brilliant! But my God, its been 50 years and we still have the same gold-tipped refill, the same grey hexagonal barrel, capped by the same ridiculous blue, red or black plastic cap. Not a single brain cell has been expended in trying to innovate this pen, for over 50 years! Meanwhile, Bic now has gel pens, rollerball pens, glitter gel pens, 0.5mm pens, 0.7mm pens, purple, pink and gold pens...the list is endless! So while my staff are happy to use an Eversharp pen to write notes in a staff meeting, my 14 year old niece would slit her wrists if she were forced to use one at school. Surely it wouldn't kill the geniuses at Eversharp Pvt. Ltd. to sit down and even copy the innovations of 10 years ago. That would be a giant leap forward compared to where they are now.
I could go on and on, but this is really not a profitable endeavor for me, since none of you bastards donate money to my blog. I think my point is clear. If "Buy Zimbabwe" means the same as "Buy Shit", then the Zim manufacturers can go to Hell. We are not prepared to sacrifice our hard-earned cash and our taste-buds on this garbage.
Before this campaign gains steam, I think we as consumers should start our own. We can aim it at the manufacturers, and call it the "Stop Making Shit Campaign". We can have our own seminar and media coverage, and I can be the spokesman. We can even have a logo or badge of some sort, which can be put on products we certify worthwhile. Instead of saying "Proudly Zimbabwean", it can say "Guaranteed: Not Shit" or something to that effect. If anyone can design such a logo please let me know. I won't pay you, but you'll feel good for bringing down a fellow Zimbabwean's blood pressure.