Monday, September 20, 2010

Advertising in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe companies are sometimes very very good at advertising. Sadly the delivery far from always live up to the promises in the ads.

A favorite for a long time is mobile network provider Econet "Inspired by the best", "internet where you are" etc. This plastered just about everywhere from a provider that delivers such poor service, especially on the "3G" side, that an anti-Econet Facebook page actually exists. For years the most common phrase in any cellphone conversation in Zimbabwe sounds something like "Hello? Hello! Can you hear me, yes I can hear you. Hello!" - and so on.

For some weeks now a rather aggressiv campaign stated "wear something red Friday ?? September" (I have forgot the actual date). Full page ads in the daily newspapers etc and believe it or not - the police "got suspicious" and were "out in full force" on said Friday. All the campaign promised was that you could be given some sort of prize if you were spotted by them wearing something red that day.

This turned out to be a campaign for a new mobile internet 3G service that also should deliver cellphone services in, for now, Harare area. BUT the company, Africom, could show no products during the launch, their website is down and during the recent ICT Africa show all their stall had was - leaflets and a guy talking about how good the still invisible products were...

Reality check, someone?

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

On leave at last

In some ways I am sadly unorganized. Events like Easter, Xmas and other annual holidays always seem to take me by surprise. Another side of that is that I sometimes completely fail to plan for work leave. This also has to do with working as a consultant for many years, you simply take leave when you can.

Anyhow, something happened that made me realise exactly how tired and worn down I was. With understanding from management I went on leave "immediately" and we (that is me and Mia) decided we should go for a beach holiday with the kids.

Whereto now? Would have loved to hit Dar es Salaam or Kenya Mombasa but time- and moneymatters made us decide for Mozambique. After scouting around we found a lodge near Beira, a day drive from Harare basically. Somewhat naively (more on that later) we thought we might commute to nightlife in Beira and decided to take Mia's sister Cynthia along to look after the boys in the evenings. Ha!

At the same time Mia was running to the passport office on a daily basis to get her "3-day" passport produced. It took well over a week... and we decided to have a checkup of the Isuzu before making such a long drive. Turned out to be a very good decision as the mechanic found a problem with a wheelbearing that could have meant a total breakdown somewhere along the road.

Only problem with that was that he could not fix it before the weekend and our plan was to drive on Monday, arriving in the late afternoon. Come Monday we could only plan, pack etc and then wait. By 12 Steve announces the car is ready. Now to decide whether to go or not? In the end we decide to have a go at it and by 2 pm we were on the road, crossing the border by around 5.30 pm.

Why in heaven's name we had not read the instructions from the travel agent before then is anyone's guess. "Please make sure you arrive for the ferry across the lagoon before 5 pm"....

OK now what? Already in Moz it is no point in going back so I thought we would either find a hotel in the nearest town or drive on to Beira and stay overnight there. Turns out Mia had a better idea: relatives in Mafambisi, some 40 km before Beira. Called to uncle Werner who runs a small guesthouse "can you put up 5 beds for the night". The rooms were full but they promised to find a way of hosting us. Around 10 pm (talk about optimistic) we arrived at auntie Elena's small bar/restaurant (called a "kiosk" in Mozambique for some reason). After a nice but very late dinner on fried chicken and chips we stumbled on to various bed quarters.

Following a late and slow breakfast next day we took off towards the lodge, Rio Savannah. Made a stop at Shoprite in Beira for stocking up and drove ca 40 km on a rather bad sand road. Bad as it had rained and parts were more mud than sand. Drive to Beira for nightlife, eh? Well, most importantly we made it!

Were taken by boat across the rivermouth to the basic but neat lodge, soon as we had installed ourselves it was off to the beach. Following that was 5 days of beach, swim, sunset drinks overlooking rivermouth, prawns for dinner and so on. The boys found friends in the other houses and ever so often we found they were gone or the whole crew of kids were in our house. Serious little Sean, 4 years and full of questions such as "why do you have tattoos, why does your daughter (Mia) look like she does" etc still makes me laugh. Wonderfully relaxing and I could have stayed another week though I think Mia would have had a serious case of cabin fever by then. No TV, no radio, no news, no internet.

On the home leg we again stopped over at Elena and Werner for a late, slow brunch. I don't think Mozambiquans quite understand the word "urgent". Then on home, arriving at around 8 pm.

Well, it was well needed and despite the planning glitches good fun. I appreciated meeting Mia's family and I am 100 they loved meeting us and the kids.

Next time it will not take 3 years between beach holidays... see some pictures, unorganised as they are, here.

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