Since Covid-19 reached Zimbabwe in March 2020, I have been conducting interviews with young Zimbabweans. My interviews pay particular attention to the interweaving of economic action and everyday life in high-density urban townships, the ‘ghettos’. The results were bleak.
The impact of Covid-19 has been much more catastrophic on ghetto youth than any other group of young people in Zimbabwe. It has not only disrupted the flow of economic activity and their sources of livelihood, but destroyed their confidence and hope for upward social mobility.
A man pulls a cart carrying used vehicle tyres for resale in an industrial area in Harare, Zimbabwe. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Aaron Ufumeli)
The perennial nature of Zimbabwe’s economic crisis has, over the years, perpetuated a toxic culture of apathy, pessimism, and despondency among the youth. It is appalling to realise that more young people are now committing suicide, succumbing to drug and substance abuse and prostitution than ever before.
Although this owes much to the heavy yoke of prolonged poverty, it is evident that an infectious stress is being recklessly nursed by these young people with no solutions or way forward.
A closer look at Zimbabwean history shows us that however we define a…