This week has been a weird one for me. With all the craziness of being an adult and trying to make things work has made me think of the days when I was a kid. I had nothing to worry about. Absolutely nothing! I have two amazing parents, that I love to death, who did all the worrying for me when I was a kid and I will be eternally grateful. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day ain’t enough. In a way, I feel like a kid right now! I have a cousin in grade one that constantly reminds me of my days as a kid. She is living the life! Hanging out with her occasionally has made me think of what can children do in Harare. The 90s are not applicable here so I set out to find what can children do in Harare.
All my 80s/90s babies from Harare can relate. Someone threw a birthday party there or you were that someone. Greenwood Park was the place to be and today, it still stands. Not as adventurous and mysterious like the 90s but it still stands in all the glory of fun and excitement. Unfortunately I am “too big” for the rides so I had to settle for looking and reminiscing. Without a shadow of doubt, the ride that took you around the park was the main attraction. You are strapped into a seat and elevated off the ground. Then the fun begins as you are taken around the park at a steady pace so that you can take it all in. As a kid, the feeling of a bird was experienced – the wind caressing your face, the noise of a world below your feet and the freedom of being off the ground had a way of exciting you. Your heart was flying, your mind was having fun and your body was free. Then you get the kid crying in the back because they’re afraid of heights.
Nostalgia aside, the Park still stands with less rides. When I walked by, a couple of parents walked in and the kids went on the few working rides. They would never know the excitement that I felt when I was their age. That has been taken away from them. But what remains, 20 years later is, “Mummy! Mummy! Take a picture! Take a picture! I am having so much fun.”
Yes you are!
Long Chen Plaza Amusement Park
This is a relatively new establishment in Harare. Beautifully set with the National Sports Stadium in the background creating an atmosphere of fun in the sun. There are a variety of rides that children can go on and have fun, scream in excitement and nag their parents to let them on this ride and that ride. I saw parents walk in, monitor their children then tap out by picnicking in the middle of the park and constantly saying in a fatigued tone, “Ehe! Chiende!” (loosely translated “Yes! Go on the ride!”) Children 5 – 0 Parents. All the children are full of joy and they are grabbing their friends or family to go onto the next ride. It was a pen of highly energised children, not slowing down for no one as they wished to go on all the rides in an hour then back onto their favourite rides. I felt old just following them with my eyes. But they are having fun! Nothing is more important than that. And yes, there is a child crying in the background. As long as you are having fun, you can cry. If not, an ice cream is coming your way.
Don’t you miss that?
There are three parks in the Harare CBD – Greenwood Park, African Unity Square and Harare Gardens. I played a lot in Harare Gardens because I lived a stone throw away so my memories are vivid. All a child needs is open space and watch them go. What better place than a park? There is plenty of space for them to run and explore. Let the child’s imagination run as wild as their feet can carry them and the child will tire them-self out. Seeing parents collapse onto a picnic blanket and let their children explore the sea of green grass and the islands of trees, reminded me of my time as the little adventurer. The great thing about parks is that there are perfect photo opportunities with beautifully green backgrounds. Parks allow for you to spend the entire day with your children or family. The children play, the teens are on their phones whilst the grown ups talk. It’s definitely not the 90s anymore but fun is still achieved. There are places to have fun in Harare.
Ster-Kinekor in Harare has great initiatives for children. Each time an animated movie comes out, the cinema hosts activities for the children. From jumping castles to water slides, from colouring books to a stage for them to go up on and dance. Ster-Kinekor always has something for the kids. It sucks being a grown up! And at these events, the children are full of euphoria. Nothing but joy is pouring out of them with the widest smiles and they are constantly asking for a picture to be taken. As a parent, you cannot leave your camera at home or in the car. You want to see disappointment? Leave the camera. This week sees the release of Angry Birds and Ster-Kinekor is hosting a morning for the kids. They couldn’t do it in the afternoon because they couldn’t keep up. I see you! The last time they hosted a children’s event at Westgate, the staff were exhausted by 14h30 with 3 hours to go. It’s great to host events for the kids but how does one keep up?
Meet my cousin Paida, the only person that I know of who has a bucket load of fun and the inspiration for this blog. She may never read this but it’s all good. I owe her Angry Birds. We watched Zootopia together and I enjoyed it more than she did. I guess it’s my love for movies not that she is more adult than me.
There are activities out there for parents to do with their children in Harare. Let the children have the fun, excitement and freedom they deserve in the city of Harare – the sunshine city. When in doubt, take them to the movies. If they are too active, there are amusement parks in Harare to ensure they run till their feet cannot carry them, places that allow them to scream their heads off and it’s appreciated, and most importantly, there are places where they will remember the fun they had when you took them there.
Go and create great memories with your children.