On Monday Zimbabwe’s bakers got what they have been asking for, a 60% price hike. Bread that was selling for $9.50, actually there wasn’t any bread as bakers protested, is now selling for over $15 and those shelves that were empty last week are suddenly full of bread you and I probably cannot afford.
Who needs bread anyway?
This is not a case of sour grapes where I diss something because I cannot get it. I grew up in rural Zimbabwe and yes man can live without eating bread. The Manyika are famed for their love of tea so yes we had tea-without the bread of course.
How did we do it? Sweet potatoes and yams were the mainstays of our breakfasts. Both are cheaper than bread and, as my mother was always at pains to point out, stay in the stomach longer than bread. I am not a doctor but it seemed kind of true.
Here are the prices of sweet potatoes at Mbare Musika
Yams are out of season but here are the prices of sweet potatoes at Mbare Musika as of 17 October 2019:
- Small heap of sweet potatoes (about half a gallon ) $8 bond
- 5 litres (gallon) $12-14 bond
- 20 litres (bucket) $50-55
This is not like in America or the UK. A gallon here is exactly 5 litres, not 4.7 litres ( UK’s Imperial gallon) or 3.8 litres ( US gallon). The name comes from the metal containers used in the past by companies like Olivine to sell oil.
There are exactly four gallons in a bucket. A bucket being a 20-litre bucket. Hopefully, you get it and don’t need an explanation here.
That small heap of sweet potatoes is worth 2 loaves in terms of the amount of energy you will get from it.