This time of the year in Zimbabwe Mother Nature shows her caring side and nurtures us with a much-needed source of vitamins.
The arrival of colourful fruits on the scene transforms Harare into a mouth-watering hive of activity. Yes, summer provides a wide range of choices for vitamins among urban dwellers.
Exotic fruit trees like mango, peach, guava and avocado dominate different neighbourhoods across Harare, historically accompanying the city’s growth. They are considered a cheap source of nutrients for the urban population and an important source of income for fruit vendors and some community members.
Indigenous fruits like mazhanje, matamba and tsubvu also find their way into the city supermarkets and onto the streets, and are in very high demand. Mbare Musika comes to life as fruits pass in bulk through the market, but thanks to the bad habits of consumers, they do add to the heaps of litter that accumulate.
“Mangoes are brought to us from different sources but for mazhanje we go out ourselves to the forests because buying them for resale will reduce profit,” said a trader in Mbare. Many of Harare’s roads are the favoured selling place for these indigenous fruits – simply stacked in the back of a bakkie and sold in a variety of quantities, for $1 to $5.
Murehwa and Mutoko are renowned for consistently supplying mangoes during this season. Mazhanje (Uapaca Kirkiana) are a wild fruit found in areas such as Wedza and Domboshava where fruits are harvested in natural forests.
Mazhanje are known to provide a variety of nutrients including vitamin A, pectin, potassium, antioxidants, iron, copper as well as other essential minerals. Mangoes are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. The fruit is also a good source of Vitamins A, B6, C and dietary fibre among other nutritional benefits.
However, though important and popular, mazhanje and mangoes are notorious for littering the streets due to the poor disposal of their residue. Peels and seeds from the two fruits are quite common along Harare’s streets around this time of the year and can result in unnecessary injuries to people.
Sipho Muzondo (33) from Tafara said that poor disposal habits were putting the fruits in a bad light. “There is nothing wrong with consuming these fruits but people should just properly dispose of the fruit seeds,” he complained.
Some people have encouraged fruit vendors to provide their customers with facilities to take care of the fruit residue in order to reduce littering. “People dump left over fruit all over the place where they are left to rot, inviting flies and creating bad smells. People should at least use the seeds and residues for compost,” said one Mbare resident.
At a time when Harare is trying to regain its Sunshine City status it is important that urban people turn over a new leaf and are conscious of how even the fruit they consume can affect their surroundings.