Zimbabwe’s youths shun festivities to focus on survival

Christmas and New Year’s no longer matter to 29-year-old Raymond Mutavara, a jobless Zimbabwean university graduate, because he has more pressing things on his mind.

“For the past six years, I have grappled with economic challenges, living on my own. My parents live in a rural area, and I have to make sure I send something for them there, and therefore, even if it’s Christmas or New Year’s, I have to sell my things to make money,” Mutavara told Anadolu Agency.

He said he graduated with a national certificate in marketing from Harare Polytechnic College six years ago.

But like millions of other graduates, Mutavara has never been lucky enough to land a job, and for him, celebrating Christmas or New Year’s is “worthless” because he has no means to do that.

According to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the country’s biggest trade union organization, more than 90% of the country’s approximately 14 million people are unemployed.

Another thorn in the side of many Zimbabwean youths like Mutavara is inflation, which is hovering above 300% according to statistics from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

But even as this hurts Zimbabweans — particularly youths like Mutavara, who have to bear the brunt of joblessness — Christmas and New Year’s festivities have over the years been joyous events here. But not anymore.

Across the globe, in countries where Christianity holds sway, millions if not billions of Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ every year on Dec. 25.

Then on Jan. 1, the world, including Zimbabwe, celebrates the beginning of a new year.

Christmas and New Year’s are commemorated with drinking, feasting, dancing and reunions with friends and relatives in countries like Zimbabwe. But for many like Mutavara, that is no longer the case.

“I have no money to do that. I have no time for that because I have to be busy looking for money to meet my basic needs. I have to pay my monthly rent where I stay, and if I waste the little earnings that I get every day on those two days of feasting, where will I go without paying rent?” he said.

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