Just so you know today, Friday 29 November, is Black Friday. For the most part, it simply means that a lot of international retailers will be offering massive discounts on a variety of items. Zimbabwean shops have joined the American-cum-global phenomena.

A brief history of Black Friday

Americans and other countries celebrate a holiday called Thanksgiving which always falls on the fourth Thursday of November each year rather than on a given specific calendar day. This is an important holiday during which people travel to meet relatives usually as an extended family.

As already said the holiday falls on a Thursday it would make little sense for people to return to work the following day-Friday. While not officially recognised the Friday after Thanksgiving became a de facto holiday characterised by a large number of people doing their shopping.

Shops began to take advantage of this by offering inducements to entice people to buy and spend. Eventually, it evolved into a day when you could do early Christmas shopping.

No, the term Black Friday did not begin as a day when white Americans offered each other deals on black-negro slaves! That much we know. However, the origins of the name Black Friday are not clear. Some say it was the police of certain American states that started calling it a Black Friday as it was a day when there was a lot of traffic resulting in lots of crime, accidents and deaths.

As Black Friday became popular shop came up with their own spin on how the term Black Friday came to be. According to them, it’s a day that allowed shops to make a profit. Making a loss is called being in red, remember how all marks below 50% were reported using a red pen in your High School report book? Turning a profit is called being in black.

Black Friday comes to Africa and Zimbabwe

While discounts were popular in Zimbabwe towards Christmas, with the recent economic meltdowns it has actually become customary for our predatory retailers to hike prices as we get towards Christmas. However, the meltdown has also seen a lot of Zimbabweans leave the country and go to other countries where they have had occasion to experience other cultures one of which is Black Friday.

The tech-savvy Zimbabwean community has also taken advantage for a number of years now. Each year the number of people who take advantage of these sales online continues to grow using cards such as the FBC MasterCard and Steward Visa to shop on Aliexpress, Amazon, Alibaba and Gearbest.

South African shops have also been known to take part in the sale. Last year I was part of the Black Friday event in Musina. For such a small town there was a lot of foot traffic from Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean border was swamped with people who spread messages on Social Media about the impending sales.