October is the hardest and hottest month in Zimbabwe, the one, according to colonial folklore, in which the most suicides are recorded. But it is also the month when the jacarandas, which line both sides of Josiah Chinamano Avenue and several other streets in Harare, flower into a shimmering purple. Suffusing the air in the vicinity with a royal haze, they supply the ground beneath them with a blue-violet carpet.
But there is one tree that didn’t take part in the visual feast this year. At the corner of Josiah Chinamano Avenue and Sam Nujoma Street, it stands sad, bereft of leaves and with no purple crown. Its base is muddy and streaked with a uric and ashen hue.
It’s just a matter of time before workers from the city’s housing and social services department notice what people who live, work and walk on this street have been aware of for some time — it is dead and should, as Jesus Christ said to the faithful in the Gospels on trees that don’t bear good fruit, be cut down and thrown into the fire.