The Culture of Queuing

Thembe Khumalo

, Opinion

They say that culture is made up of the ways in which people make sense of their existence. I imagine therefore that forming an orderly queue in order to gain restricted access to something that you had given someone for safekeeping and which that someone has in the meantime been using for their own enrichment might therefore be an integral part of our culture at this time in Zimbabwe.

No doubt you will agree that many aspects of culture are puzzling or frustrating or both. Some are even downright objectionable. And in many societies when you dig deeper to try to understand why things are the way they are, the responses proffered by those who know are less than satisfactory. Often the real and truthful explanation is only known by a select few, such as the elders, the chief and his advisors or perhaps a governor of a very important national institution.

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As Zimbabweans we are adept at forming orderly queues. One might even say it is second nature to us. No, not second, first; for we need not even think about it, we simply do it. And then we stand in those queues for hours, or even days, quietly grumbling. No sooner have we done so, than we then engage in our next national preoccupation – that of making jokes about the situation we find ourselves in. Hands up if you haven’t seen or shared a joke or meme about something deeply disturbing lately, like say, green stained fingers resulting from handling certain pieces of paper.

So we queue, we grumble quietly (always quietly) and then we giggle.

Queue, grumble, giggle. Rinse, repeat.

It’s our culture.