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This is Zimbabwe inside Nigeria!

Zim

This is Zimbabwe inside Nigeria!

Joint where Abuja residents enjoy fresh palm wine, bush meat

By ROMANUS UGWU

For residents of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, chances are that they may not mistake the expression to visit Zimbabwe for traveling to Robert Mugabe’s Southern African country, Zimbabwe. But, that may not be true of visitors to Abuja, especially first timers.
Although new arrivals might be tempted to ask which Zimbabwe, the general understanding of many residents would be the popular Zimbabwe, a joint at Uke, a borderline between the FCT and Nasarawa State.  It sits on the Keffi Expressway. It is easily remembered as a joint that hosts the Abuja rich, poor and foreigners. They visit there to enjoy fresh palm wine and bush meat.
Zimbabwe Joint, about 32 kilometres away from the FCT, has for some years commanded the attention of fun-seekers of mainly Abuja residents. It has come to be known as a place where people of different economic status and social backgrounds patronise palm wine and locally sourced bush meat.
To demonstrate its uniqueness, the joint bubbles Sunday-to-Sunday. In fact, people from all tribes have accepted Zimbabwe as the joint to consolidate and deepen the unity of the country. East, West, North or South, Zimbabwe Joint is the melting point and place to be, to unwind and reduce stress.

Origin of Zimbabwe Joint
Most of those who patronise Zimbabwe Joint are surprisingly ignorant of the history of the place. From Madam Nkechi, who heads drinks section and who has spent over eight years at the joint to a man popularly known as Papa, an Octogenarian. He was a pioneer staff of the joint. Neither him nor Nkechi could give an accurate account of how Zimbabwe came to be.
Nkechi admitted she never cared to find out when and how the joint started: “I am more interested in making out a living here than the history. I came here in 2008 through a friend. But, what am I going to do with the history of the place?
“I formerly resided inside Abuja until government demolished the house I was staying. Faced with a hopeless and homeless situation, my friend persuaded me to come to Zimbabwe to start the business of selling alcohol and meat.
“Honestly, I never bothered to know the history of Zimbabwe Joint, I am more concerned about making a living here and wiping out the tears the FCT administration inflicted on me. Looking back today, I have no regret leaving Abuja and relocating to Zimbabwe.”
Like Nkechi, Papa Samuel Okoro Onu, who is a pioneer trader at the joint since 16 years now, never bothered about its history: “I came to Zimbabwe Joint from Abuja in 2000. I was an Okada rider in Abuja but had to leave when reckless drivers hit and killed many of my colleagues.
“When accidents and death of many Okada operators became unbearable, I started looking for an alternative to eke a living. I was lucky when a friend told me about a joint called Zimbabwe where we can start the business of selling alcohol.
“I was, however, discouraged because there were no shelters when we first arrived here. In fact, everywhere was just bushy with few people. We had to live and sleep under trees, enduring the harsh condition of rain and sunshine. I was among the early arrivals, but I cannot tell the exact date the joint started.”
The search for the history of Zimbabwe Joint shifted to the Palace of Sariki Gbagi Uke District, Chief Danjuma Kaledi, who explained: “I remember vividly that the joint started on June 2, 1982, during the administration of former President Shehu Shagari. On June 1 that year, certain Gbagi persons had visited me to request for a place to start selling palm wine.
“I obliged them that portion of land and the next day, the joint started with just a keg of palm wine. From one keg, it increased to two the next day and continued until it became a bubbling joint, which attracted people from far and near including foreigners.
“When it started, the major road linking Keffi and Abuja was not constructed. It was the construction of the major road that popularised the joint since it is situated along the road. The road construction really increased the patronage of joint
“The traders also added selling of bush meat as complement to the palm wine. The news of the joint had spread all over Abuja like wide fire that the FCT residents trooped in massively on daily basis to patronise the palm wine and bush meat.
“I was shocked when foreigners started visiting and patronising the joint and the Palace. Today, Zimbabwe Joint has grown to become even a big market, selling other things other than the palm wine and bush meat. I am happy that what started with a keg of palm wine has grown and developed into an irresistible joint.”

How Zimbabwe got its name
There are many accounts of how the joint assumed the name Zimbabwe. An account by Papa Onu claimed that some National Youth Service Corps members gave the joint the name: “I cannot categorically explain how the joint got the name Zimbabwe but from what I heard, it was corps members posted to this village that gave it such name.
“I was told that after drinking here, the intoxicated corps members would start writing Zimbabwe on the tarred road. It was the consistency of such action that resulted in naming the joint Zimbabwe.”
An account by the Sariki Gbagi said the name came as a result of the unconscious actions of drunken persons that sang Bob Marley and The Wailers’ album, Survival. Released in 1979 premiered at the Amandla Festival, Zimbabwe, the hit track of Survival was an anthem used to press for the liberation of the African continent:
“Many people who patronise the joint would sing and dance the popular Bob Marley music tune, Zimbabwe, newly released then, after drinking themselves to stupor. The song became a sort of national anthem used to complement their consumption of alcohol. Its consistency became conscious in the minds of the people, resulting in renaming the joint Zimbabwe.”

Sourcing the bush meat and fresh palm wine
Initially known as a palm wine joint, Zimbabwe Joint grew to become a melting point, a viable and available market for professional wine tapers within the neighbouring villages especially Keffi. According to the dealers, depending on the level of competition, they either went in search of the products or the suppliers would bring the palm wine to them.
Mama Yambiu told Daily Sun: “Either way, the good thing is that we have fresh palm wine here on daily basis. ‘Palmy’ has never been in short supply irrespective of the volume of patronage. We even have enough quantity to supply the dealers from Abuja and other neighbouring communities. We hardly allow it to go out of stock and that is why if sometimes the suppliers do not come, we go after them.
“Our major patronage came from the residents of Abuja. Apart from dealers buying in large quantity to resell at higher price to their customers, other Abuja residents prefer visiting here to enjoy it fresh. I have made a living, selling palm wine including sponsoring my children’s education and supporting my family.”
If the palm wine is sourced locally, it is not the same for the bush meat. A middle-aged Calabar woman married to an Igbo man, Madam Calabar, said bush meat like buffalo and other wild animals are supplied from Borno State:
“Some bush meats like alligators, snakes, grass cutters, rabbits etc could be sourced locally from the hunters within the villages around this area. We usually get wild animals like buffalo, antelopes, giraffe and many others from the Borno hunters.
“In the past, the patronage was very high because people buy them for different purposes. Since the linking of Ebola disease to the consumption of bush meat, the patronage dropped drastically. Boko Haram also contributed to the dearth of bush meat especially the buffalo. It was difficult for the hunters to go into the bushes and forests for fear of the Islamist sect.”

Challenges of insecurity and low patronage
Although consistent low patronage due to the harsh economic situation has really reduced patronage of Zimbabwe Joint, periodic robbery attacks allegedly by some unemployed youths from villages around the joint who cart away meats and money has become a major threat.
Papa Onu narrated his experience: revealed that he had even caught a robber, who incidentally was a policeman from a nearby village. Hear him : “A policeman was the leader of the gang that robbed me in July 2002. I recognised his face under the moonlight as their oga.
“They wanted to beat me when I confronted them but he stopped them, ordering me to simply settle his boys. I gave them N300 but they refused until I made it N500. They carted away with many fishes, bush meat and other things they could lay their hands on.
“When I saw him the next day, I raised the alarm and mobilised others to arrest and hand him over to the police with some of his boys. Surprisingly, it was when we got to the police station that we noticed he was a policeman. They tried to free him but I involved higher police officers who ensured that he was detained. We, however, settled the matter when he agreed to pay us all his gang collected from us. Apart from that there have been some reported robbery cases.”

Amorous superstition
Contrary to the speculation that Zimbabwe is haven for prostitution, many of the traders argued that though prostitutes don’t operate, sex related activities contributed in the low patronage they currently face.
Papa Onu: “Prostitution is not here but the trend of some traders having sex inside their shops is not good. Such action, which became very rampart sometimes now, is a bad omen capable of wreaking havoc.
“I have tried to talk them out of such action but it has persisted and that is why the joint has become a shadow of its past. Besides this trend, we have equally seen increase in the number of young ladies flooding into Zimbabwe.”

-Sun

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Posted by on Jul 30 2016. Filed under Africa & World Politics, Headlines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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