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THE last place that most hard-working Zimbabwean citizens would want to be, especially during the weekends, is indoors.
It seems citizens of this beautiful country not only work hard but also play equally hard. And outdoor facilities have been created for revellers who are not deterred by distances or the size of their pockets. Many such facilities have made names for themselves, for various reasons, good and not so good.

Junction 24

This is a fairly new place located a spitting distance from the Hunyani River Bridge, along the Harare-Chitungwiza road. Junction 24 has re-defined the term family outing in the capital. It is a mixture of various open-air concepts that have been in existence for some time. The place is serene and quiet. Lack of noise and bustle has made it a firm favourite for families. The structure is characterised by well-manicured lawns and grounds, security friendly parking, under tree sitting, children’s play centre, excellent ablution facilities, five restaurants and bars to cater for various tastes.

While children play, they occasionally shift their attention to the low-flying planes that land at the nearby Harare International Airport. And adults are spoilt for choice as the available bars (Mas Vergas, 419 Lounge, Wine and Spirit, Musoni Sports Bar and Pandari) offer varied play lists that cater for different tastes of   music.

However, patrons are not happy with the pricing regime despite the excellent services at the joint. For instance, the popular country-style sausage asks for an average US$8, when the same delicacy costs about US$6 or less elsewhere. With the exorbitant pricing system, the place may probably never realise its full potential. The convenience shop where clients can pick one or two items to take home is also pricey.

Globe Trotter

The big fish in the capital used to congregate at this joint. At its peak, it had a magnetic pull that could not be resisted. Top characters in the capital that included DJs, business people, celebrities and socialites jostled to dine and wine at the joint. But the once revered Globe Trotter fell from grace following the incarceration of the founding owner, Dickson Kokwani Sabawu, and since 2009, it has been struggling to regain its lost lustre. Attempts to reclaim top position as a prime joy destination are proving futile and matters have not been helped by the protracted wrangle for ownership/control of the joint. Sizwe Sabawu, son of the incarcerated businessman, attempted to jump start operations not so long ago, but the effort sputtered and faltered.

Adverts of a comeback found no takers with only a handful patrons attending what was supposed to be a big return. Claims of renovations do not hold water as dilapidation is still evident. As things stand, no serious fun-loving reveller would head to the joint. However, fun-lovers are optimistic that the coming on board of fresh management will help turn tables for the better.

Mega Bars

Though no longer commanding as high patronage as it was some six or so years ago, the Mega bars namely Mega 1 bar in Graniteside, Mega West in Westgate and Mega 2 in Hatfield, have managed to maintain a somewhat tight grip on the entertainment map. The owner of the bars has invested heavily in renovating Mega 1 and 2.

The former now boasts of one of the best stages for live performances, not only in the capital, but around the country, while Mega 2 has been turned into a perfect platform for family outing, providing all sorts of recreational facilities.

The problem, however, lies on the fact that Mega 1 hosts more family shows than Mega 2. By nature, these events call for families to bring along children. But the Mega 1 set-up does not support family outings. In short, Mega 1 is a bar and should not be open to kids.

For instance, for revellers to be able to get to the show venue, they have to pass through a bar. It is very unfortunate that the proper venue for these shows (Mega 2) is not being properly used for this purpose.

Mtangaz Hideout

Being off-road and “off the radar” along the Harare-Mutare highway, Mtangaz has proved to be a place to unwind in peace. One of the most outstanding features of the watering hole is its ability to come up with events that cater for family outings. Children  and adults enjoy horse rides at the hideout.

Proprietors of the venue have made sure that they at least come up with interesting programmes for their patrons, with the major emphasis being on catering for family units. Favourable prices for basics like soft drinks, alcohol and meat make outings memorable and affordable.

The venue has a butchery that offers meat at reasonable prices. The only challenge with this joint is accessibility. It is, indeed, a hideout.

Mereki

This is by far one of the most popular open-air entertainment joints in the country. The place is made up of enterprising individuals. They braai, cook and buy drinks for patrons, of course for a fee. Also, in the process of enjoying what the area has to offer, one can receive car wash services for as little as US$1.

However, despite this place providing a platform for people to mix and mingle, far from hassles of the city, the environment, just like KwaFatso or Zindoga, which has an almost similar set-up, is not suitable for a family outing. For instance, there are no rules and regulations for clients since no one has exclusive rights to the place.

This results in all sorts of behaviour (most of which is unsuitable for juveniles) characterising the place. In fact, frequenters of the place kind of compete to outdo each other in wayward behaviour.

Also, ablution facilities at these joints are limited and in most cases unusable. Apart from this, the dusty environment (red soil) that is synonymous with Mereki is a huge turn-off.

Extra Mile Leisure Spot

The place does not have outstanding features but is a good place for a family outing. During an average day, it provides ordinary entertainment schedules with DJs sampling different music genres. It peaks when the spot hosts mega family shows featuring the likes of Alick Macheso, Jah Prayzah and Suluman Chimbetu. Prices of food and beverages are reasonable. Patrons are drawn from the surrounding residential areas that include Highfield, Glen View, Glen Norah and Houghton Park. There is, nonetheless, need to improve on the infrastructure.

Pamuzinda

Just like with Globe Trotter, Pamuzinda had its time under the stewardship of Victor “Godfather” Chiraga. A superb weekend was defined by passing through the joint. The venue was not only for unwinding purposes, it was also a battle field for musicians. The country’s top acts would use the site to settle industry disputes.

However, in the course of operations, tables turned and the venue sunk into oblivion. However, new proprietor, one of Zimbabwe’s seasoned promoters, Josh Hozheri of the once famous but now defunct Jazz 105, has moved in to revive fortunes of the place and the effort seems to be paying dividends. Now rebranded Pamuzinda (Ice and Fire), the joint is back on track. The spot has regained its lost pride and is now offering revellers value for money.

Colour Purple

It seems the joint has completely disappeared and is no longer on the entertainment radar. Problems for this imbibing place started after controversial news filtered through from Sesombe, during Tongai Moyo’s funeral wake, that allegedly linked the owner of its sister joint (the popular but now defunct “Mai Jojo”) to some “adult pleasure” scandals. From then, the otherwise vibrant lady went into hibernation and that has had adverse effects on the joints.

Sports Clubs

Characterised by well-manicured lawns beautiful to the eye and dotted indigenous and exotic trees that sway and sing to the rhythm of winds, sports clubs have proved to be popular with Hararians seeking open-air entertainment. Clubs like Belgravia, Alexandra and Chapman are a hive of activity every weekend, never mind the time of the month.

Advantages of these sports clubs is that they offer both indoor and outdoor entertainment. When seasons switch from summer to winter, the environs have infrastructure that can guarantee continued pleasure. Most often, the clubs are used to host parties, weddings and corporate events.

 

Sunday, May 25, 2014