Now I'm not sure if she's alone (word on these streets is that she is) or if she's with her equally cool posse
If you're a girl and have never had a girl crush, get ready sister. Shingai Shinowa is just the bees knees. How do I know? In 2010, 3 of my girl friends and I went on an epic road trip from Joburg to Lake Malawi via Zimbabwe and Mozambique in a Mini Cooper. I don't know what we were thinking. Four girls who don't know how to change a tyre were obviously begging Murphy to apply his laws upon our unsuspecting naivety. Naturally, one tyre burst on a pitch black Zimbabwean highway and we had to bring out our best truck driver charming skills.
This after we had been stopped by cops for apparently speeding by driving at 70km on a highway. The cops took our licence and we, well Nana had to beg for them to give it back to us because we didn't have the US$50, which was the ''spot fine'' the cops said we must pay. Our budget wasn't super tight but it was planned and we were going to make them work for the 50 bucks they were demanding. Now we were in a foreign country and we quickly learnt we couldn't be sassy Joburg girls and get our way as we usually do. We humbled ourselves and eventually Nana just said ''Look, we don't have money because we're actually driving to a funeral in Malawi and we didn't plan this trip so our budget is super tight and we're sad enough as it is to be going to bury someone''. Eventually, they gave us back the licence and we breathed a huge sigh of relief because we were actually going to a music festival at Lake Malawi.
Back to the wheel business. One tyre burst and it was dark and we were stopped in the middle of nowhere. It was so dark we couldn't see each other. Nobody would stop to help us because our car was from Joburg and clearly people thought we were really cute hijackers. Eventually, a truck driver stopped to help us change our tyre. When he looked at the spare tyre, it turned out to be one of those narrow ''biscuit'' tyres that might as well have been on a bicycle and wait for it....it too was flat. It was around 8pm and we were 8 hours away from Harare. The trucker told us to drive at 60km per hour and he will drive behind us until he has to turn. Two of us sat with the super thick burst disgusting tyer between us in the tiny back seat of a Mini. After about 5 hours of sheer unadulterated hell on a road that doesn't end, we stumbled upon a little town that literally came out of nowhere. All we saw was a little hand written sign that said ''Chivhu'' and a dim flashing sign that said ''24 hour wheel and tyre fitment centre'' We couldn't believe our eyes. Before we stopped the car, four guys were already coming towards us because I'm sure they saw our what the fuck please help us faces. It turns out we had hit a pot hole and the rim of the wheel was screwed. The men beat it back to shape, pumped our tyre, pumped the biscuit, put it back in its socket in the boot, we got some cokes and were swiftly on our way to Harare with about 4 hours to go. I sat in the front next to Nana who was driving and after about 20 minutes, I heard a funny sound coming from the front passanger tyre. I didn't want to alarm the others and kept quiet for a while until prevented me from sleeping.
Eventually, I plucked up the courage to say something's up with the front wheel. At first they were all in denial and said there's nothing wrong and I should calm down. 30 min later, I insisted on it and because there was actually nothing we could do, we agreed we can't stop because what are we gonna do? Two of us fell asleep while the others drove. The next thing I remember was waking up with a copper on the passanger side asking us what's wrong with the car? We were stopped at a road block at like 2am and upon the copper flashing his torch on the front rear tyre, hefound this:
They helped us change the tyre, biscuit came out again, disgusting burst tyre resumed its place between the back seat people and we basically all silently wanted to end it all as we continued to Harare. Please note, we still had 2 countries to drive through before we reached our destination. Eventually, we arrived in H-Town at 3.30am, which was meant to be our time of departure to Mozambique had things gone according to plan. We stayed at a friends house which was actually a manor, and the next day went to fix the tyre in town. Sleep deprived, we got on the road again heading for Mozambique. You don't wanna know the trouble we got into trying to get out of Zimbabwe. An hour and a half of negotiating in the blazing heat, they finally released us after one of them came to ask ''So whose funeral are you going to in Malawi''. We hadn't cooked up our little lie properly and they were testing us because Nana had already told them but now they wanted to ask one of us who wasn't present during her interrogation. It was me whom they asked and as I said ''our friends....'' and as I was about to say mother, Nana jumped in and said ''parents''. They knew we were lying but somehow let us go. Eventually we got to Moz and it was fantastic. We didn't stay but drove through Tete and a few other towns and we were finally feeling like this is a road trip and it's meant to be fun. The border out of Moz into Malawi closed at 9pm and we had been stuck in a giant stop and go at Kariba Dam and it took very valuable time away from us. Eventually, we got out of Mozambique at about 20h40 and sped out of there to get to the other side by 9pm. As we left Mozambique, some kid who had shown us which offices to go to get our passports stamped was demanding that we give him money for his assistance. We were like, kid please get out of our way we're way too late to deal with this. We drove for about 15 min to get to the other side, flew out of the car to the border office, two of us got our passports stamped and we could go through, as the other two got to the window, the teller shut the blinds and put a ''closed'' sign on the window. Rrreeeeealllyyy???
We walked out of the office along with the other people who had been denied access into Malawi and as we reached our car, guess who was waiting for us demanding his money? That kid had ran 10km in pitch darkness and out of sheer amazement, we gave him his money and he left. We were going to sleep on the no man's land between two countries that night and we thought, maybe it's a good thing, we were tired. When we heard the sweet beats of R-Kelly's Happy People coming from an obscure place, we couldn't help but follow the sounds and we stumbled upon a very small dilapidated little shack. A shack that had beer and music. I can't describe the relief we felt when we saw that little shack. We bought some beers, had a bit of a razzle on the dance floor, met some locals and eventually went back to our car and rolled out a blanket and played 30 seconds. When the game ended, Akua and I fell asleep while Nana and Celiwe went to discover what lay beyond some bushes because there was music and seemingly another party on the other side. The next thing I knew, I woke up with Nana sitting in the front seat talking to some man. I was dipping in and out of sleep and eventually woke up when the man asked Nana ''Do you think you're beautiful?''. When she responded ''No, I think I'm ugly'', I said ''babe why the hell are you talking to this guy, he must just leave us alone''. I looked around the car and there were 3 other men surrounding it and Celiwe, who had managed to find her way to the back seat next to me, was shaking. That's when I knew something was really wrong. It turns out the four men had a gun and it was on top of my friend's head while he interrogated her about her looks, Zimbabwean politics and the friendliness of the people of Malawi, whom we should think of as our brothers and sisters. That is an edited version of a long and really difficult few hours. Eventually, they left after Nana's amazing ability to negotiate under pressure. We couldn't really sleep that night and as first light hit, we were the first to get into the queue to get our papers. Eventually, we got to Malawi and still had some driving to do before we got to the lake. On arrival at the lake a few hours later, we all had our individual breaking points. Mine came on the second night of Lake of Stars , the night I saw the Noisettes perform. When I watched Shingai sing and perform for the first time, I couldn't help but cry and think that shit, it was all worth it.
She is an amazing singer, an inspiring performer and all I could think was, this shit was all worth it. It was all worth it. And I didn't even know the Noisettes before that. I, no we have been huge fans ever since. According to my source, Shingai is going to be performing in Braamfontein at Puma Social Club on Friday night. We have our film screening so I'll probably miss it but I will definitely still go to the PSC after to see if I can catch even a little bit. If that fails, I hear the Noisettes will be performing in Zimbabwe next Thursday at HIFA...I just texted Akua to see if she perhaps might wanna go on another road trip next week? Her response was ''Eish'', and knowing my friend, she is probably considering it. Eish indeed.