Robin Hammond

Mbare, Harare, ZIMBABWE

Traders sell bread and people mill around in front of a bus in the Mbare area of Harare, the Zimbabwean capital. Mbare was established in 1907. It was originally called Harare Township, a name later taken over by the capital city itself. The name Harare is a corruption of Haarari, meaning 'One who never sleeps'. To accommodate men coming to the capital for work the council built Matapi flats and Mbare hostels. Men would work for a few days at a time and then return to their families in the rural areas. Today, these flats are dilapidated and severely overcrowded. Many rooms are occupied by two or three families. The area was the centre of a lethal cholera outbreak in 2008. Significant portions of Mbare's informal structures were destroyed by police and military forces during Operation Murambatsvina in May 2005. Operation Murambatsvina ('Operation Drive Out Rubbish' or 'Operation Restore Order'), started in 2005, was a campaign by the Zimbabwean government to forcibly clear slum areas around the country. According to the government the operation was meant to crack down on illegal housing and commercial activity and to prevent the spread of infectious diseases but the UN estimates that 700,000 people were directly affected through loss of housing and livelihood. It is thought that the urban poor were targeted because they have become the popular base of the internal opposition to the regime of Robert Mugabe. Mbare has been one of the most politically volatile areas in the country.

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Object Name
Robin Hammond
Mbare, Harare
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