Video: Newzroom Afrika | Song: “Amaganyana” by Ithemba lamaNguni | Editor: Philana Woo
The sweet potatoes from here are not nice. I agree and offer the recipe I use to make the not so nice sweet potatoes bearable. You know with this lockdown we can’t get the ones my sister was sending me from Zimbabwe. She says this as we chat about the border closures. Little did we know then that a wall was being built to buttress the border further. I am thinking to myself that agricultural products are not supposed to be crossing the border anyway. But we all know that many things cross the border irregularly, even now with the closures caused by the COVID pandemic. Scholars have been debating the ways in which managing the COVID pandemic has given already xenophobic governments new leeway to introduce policies that inhibit people’s mobility. Least of which is the movement of goods between countries.
During the December festivities, many from Zimbabwe cross over to South Africa for shopping. This continued despite the lockdown in 2020, but it became harder and more dangerous. People had to find ways to cross the border to South Africa despite the heavily flowing Limpopo river. I saw a video circulating with a mother precariously carrying a child on her lap, holding a large pizza box, while perched on an inflatable boat laden with groceries. Any small mistake could topple the inflatable boat and send everyone into the water. The pizza box would probably float but everyone else would sink straight to the bottom.
I remember a song by Ithemba lamaNguni as I am witnessing this video that has landed on my WhatsApp. Although a bridge officially marks the border crossing point connecting Zimbabwe and South Africa, in their song it is the Limpopo river that creates the border. The river continues to provide difficult yet available access between the two countries. Maybe she will receive her sweet potatoes after all.
Dr Duduzile S Ndlovu is a postdoctoral fellow at the African Centre for Migration and Society, University of the Witwatersrand. Find some of her work at www.movingwordspoetry.com