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Minimal Living, Maximal Values

Minimal Living, Maximal Values


Last summer, we traveled to a few African countries. Zimbabwe was one of them. We were curious to meet a few local families to know how they coped in a country that had spiraled so downward economically due to poor leadership.

Our local driver was resourceful is getting us to a local neighborhood not far from the Victoria Falls. We didn’t fix an appointment or announce our arrival in any way. We simply drove around a residential area and stopped at a house that seemed like any other. We met Chris Ncube and his family spontaneously.

The sight that greeted us was an immaculate garden. Everything in it had a purpose and a place. It didn’t have much, and yet it spoke a lot about the people who inhabited it. The video is an unscripted conversation with Chris Ncube and a walk around his home and garden.

At the time of our visit, this family was struggling to get a running water connection for their home. The red tape in the system was an impediment. The family members took turns drawing water from a lake a few kilometers from their home. This is not unusual for village dwellers. No, not at all. But that they did their daily chores with a smile and a sense of commitment towards the broader community even when the future didn’t hold out any promises of betterment is an exemplar of human values.

In this collective confinement, when we stay at home, with the luxury of door delivery and running water, such examples could placate our self-inflicted misery. I was reminded of this village, this family, and our visit. The Ncubes’ habits of recycling, re-using, eco-friendly building, growing seasonal food at home, preserving for hard times, and consuming less could be a valuable lesson taught in every school and reinforced in every home.

Urban dwellers tend to think of minimalism mostly as a visual theme for Instagram posts or art, in general:) But some parts of my unscripted conversation with this local from Zimbabwe provokes thought especially in these times.

The little anecdote behind the t-Shirt Chris Ncube’s wearing in this video:

A few years ago his family and the larger community desperately needed food and water to stay alive. They made daily requests to the many foreign aid organizations that were then working in the region. Despite the plea for food many of these agencies would come and drop off clothes and other accessories in large quantities at their doorstep. He says those t-shirts were useful too, but they didn’t solve his family’s hunger. Eventually, the WFP did bring them a sack of sorghum which helped them see through those bad days.

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