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Second Hand Clothes, An Alternative For The Suffering Masses Of Zimbabwe

By Talent Katsande

“ Manyama mamboma hodha bhero iri!” shouts street vendors in discordant voices, screaming out brand new clothes on sale, singing on top of their voices as some will be dancing as they advertise their second-hand clothes (mabhero).

Customers searching thoroughly through heaps of second-hand clothes spread across every available space in a mass vendor’mall at Mupedzanhamo, a place that is well known for selling cheap quality second-hand clothes in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare.

Through pop-culture which has spread across the globe, African people especially Zimbabweans have adopted the Western culture of walking half naked in their ripped jeans and crop tops which exposes their body essentials hence many of them have lost their innocence.

Social media has become an effective tool which is being used to show trending fashion through shows, music videos and movies and Africans can get the exact cloth with a single U.S Dollar.

A 41 year old dealer Madeline Chihota who runs several market stalls in the Central Business District (CBD) and several others publicly declares that they are gaining more profits as they specialize in the selling of Mabhero.

“On a good day, I earn approximately $600 in sales from second hand clothes,

“People can no longer afford to buy new clothes, but with second hands clothes becoming an alternative boutique for the suffering masses”.

“Kotamai boutique ” is also a metaphoric word that is commonly used by the ghetto youths to describe the action that people take when they go through the process of selecting second-hand clothes from one heap to another while their abdomen faces upwards and this is unacceptable in an African society as it is regarded as disrespectful.

The second-hand clothes which are smuggled into the country from Western countries are also supporting racism since the whites continue to feel more superior over blacks who are thirsty for their “unwanted” clothes.

Although mabhero are causing cultural dilution in Zimbabwe, they are acting as a blessing in disguise as many cannot afford to buy brand new clothes from Edgar’s due to the economic crisis in our country.

Despite one’s body shape or structure, mabhero caters for everyone’s need because all sizes, designs and colours are found based on the first come first save.

The buying of these second hand-clothes promotes inter-culture as people living in the same world it is also wise to familiarize themselves with what others are doing so that there is always unity among all races.

An average government school teacher earns a monthly salary that is approximate to $200, so just like any other people, teachers turn to second-hand clothes in the streets as buying a new shirt from any boutique remains a luxury.

Also, second hand clothes dealers have contributed to the creation of jobs opportunities in Zimbabwe as many unemployed women and men are capable of selling and experts’ like Menzisi Gumbo have welcomed the second hand appeal.

“’it’s a fact that second hand clothes have supporting the lives of thousands of Zimbabweans. Stall owners selling second hand clothes now employ hundred thousand people”.

On a sad note, other fashion designers have lamented the influx of second hand clothes on the market as it has affected their businesses and have urged the government to clamp down on clothing imports although they will always find their way on the local market despite their ban by the government in 2015.

In a discussion with Isaac Kunsedyo of Tommy Classic Designs, he said their greatest challenge as fashion designers comes from the importation of second hand clothes which have taken over the industry.

“People no longer appreciate tailor made clothes. Instead, they scramble for these clothes because they are cheaper”.

However, the cultural dilution of the African culture should not only be blamed to the coming of mabhero in Zimbabwe, in ancient times, different ethnic groups would meet and trade with each other, Africans would get exotic items such as tiny glass beads brought to Africa from Europe and in the fifteenth century Africans coveted the beads created skits which were shorts.

Further contact with Europeans introduced other Western clothing styles such as jean, caps and tennis hence, an evolution of African clothing.

As human beings, the advancement in technology makes people want to advance in different ways and in this case, fashion.