Situating morality in the housing debate in Harare: Case of Matapi Hostels.
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The urban housing question in Zimbabwe has been debated for a long time yet without paying adequate attention to the plight of the life experienced by hostel dwellers in the former ‘bachelor’ hostels. These, in Mbare, Harare, now accommodate thousands of families. Such ambivalence to discourse has denied the inhabitants stake in a number of social well-being aspects, morality included. Morality emanates largely from both religious and cultural footings. It must be noted that almost three decades of such gendered-but-loose living has exposed these poor urban dwellers to serious challenges, not only moral but health, access to credit, and related socio-economic plights. The habitation has been nothing but a heinous experience. Yet, the hostellers have become so sucked up in the abnormality that to them it has become the norm. Most of the children have never experienced life except this kind. The question is: Why has it happened in this world where there is great sermonization about adequate housing, sustainable development, human rights and upright living? Matapi - like most old hostels in Mbare - harbours several hundreds of thousands of households living in complete disjunction of the postulations of the gospel preachers, human rights advocates and cultural custodians of the time. The rampancy of moral decadence and consequential demise of the people-hood of the dwellers is a total headache to any serious social scientist. The paper is a short treatise to describe, explain and critique the living conditions in the hostels. It is largely qualitative with very little inclination to quantitative data.
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