Rau Insight: Elusive identity

Elusive identity

It never crossed my mind that not carrying an ID would result in me being at the mercy of a soldier in an incident that I was caught up in last weekend, when everybody was celebrating the seemingly apparent ushering in of a new era in Zimbabwean politics through the not a coup coup.

Fascinated by the thought of my very first field trip at my new job I forgot all about identity documents, and carried on to Chipinge. The hassle started at the hotel when the receptionist wanted to verify my identity in order to allocate a room, anxiety began creeping in. I had absolutely nothing to prove that I am Raynold Musekiwa, the supposed beneficiary of the hotel services. The receptionist was good, she just gave me the benefit of the doubt. Worried that I was turning into a shadowy character rather that a free citizen seeking to contribute in my small way to national development, gradually I sank in the waters of depression. Little did I know that it was only a harbinger of impending sorrows. After the announcement that the army had taken over the country’s media on Wednesday, l forgot all about the ID crisis and immediately thrust myself into the euphoria band wagon. The joy was infectious. I could not help but rejoice with the nation.

I rejoiced at the prospect of a future without Mugabe, the only president I have known since birth. Could the 37 years of Mugabe’s rule be over? I could not imagine how the feeling of change revived my dearest hope of a democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe. The joy was not for long though as on my way back to Harare I had hurdles awaiting. The road was dotted with roadblocks manned by soldiers on major roads leading in and out of the cities and towns. Soldiers have recently rebranded themselves, their presence for most Zimbabweans is seen to epitomise peace, protection, revolutionaries, and even friends of the people. My experience with them was far from these welcome gestures. I had no ID so they could not trust me no matter how innocent I tried to look. Luckily I somehow escaped all the roadblocks save the last one along the Harare Mutare highway. This one was thorough, with everybody having to produce their identity documents without fail.

I was sweating profusely when my chance to produce my ID came. It was clear that I could not produce anything satisfactory to guarantee my innocence. When the towering figure of the soldier extending his arm to reach for my ID approached my astounded face I felt the whole world crumbling on my head. Perched on the seat corner I mumbled in a light voice that I had forgotten the ID without full control of what I was uttering. When he insisted that he was not joking I helplessly delved my hands in the pocket showing him the few bank notes that were remnant after an eventful trip. He asked me if I wanted to disembark and spend a day on the road block in order for me to give in to his requests. This really numbed my brains, as he stood menacingly on my side I felt tears welling up in my eyes and the rest of my body was shaking uncontrollably. After all soldiers were not as friendly as they were portrayed in the media.

He then turned to my colleagues to get information about my identity. I cannot thank them enough for redeeming me from such adversity. They calmly explained that I was part of the team and had forgotten my ID at home. After being let off the hook I did not know whether to thank my colleagues or apologise for the unnecessary delay. We arrived in Harare to the joy in the streets with hordes of people partaking in the historic march to the state house registering their discontent with Mugabe’s rule and calling for his immediate resignation.

The notion that identification is indispensable keeps lingering in my mind, next time I get out of the house I make sure my ID comes along. This also goes to peace loving Zimbaweans, keep your ID anywhere you go. While everybody was hailing the soldiers for liberating the people from Mugabe’s rule, some posing for selfies with them, mine was a bumpy experience laden with fear factors.

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