The much awaited Zimbabwe International Trade Fair happened this past week and neighbouring Zambian President Michael Sata graced the occasion to officially open the event. The trade fair is more than just a trade exhibition but a time when the city of Bulawayo comes alive. If you live east of the City in any direction past Matopos Rd and Hillside Rd, you get to experience the much loathed traffic jams.
The city is for 5/6 days the host of international and local exhibitors, our hospitality industry gets a boost and the city generates much needed income. For the ordinary man, Trade fair is a time to walk around well decorated halls, collect flyers and any other give away, and eat candy floss and toffee apples and to see the President of Zimbabwe during the opening days.
The last I attended trade fair was when I was 12years old. It was routine every year; dress in your best clothes attend Trade Fair and see who could leave with the most flyers, pamphlets and booklets you were given by the various exhibitors. These pamphlets would prove very handy when the second term of school began as you could use the pictures to decorate your exercise books. Trade Fair as a child was about candy floss, toffee apples, eating more ice cream that your little body could handle. I was one of the unfortunate children who was never allowed to get their face painted (my mother is paranoid about things that can potentially harm your skin) The fascination was the crowds, getting lost and then having to turn yourself in at the information centre then having your name announced over the LOUDSPEAKER: “ May the parent of Thandi Muringa please report to the information desk, the parents of Thandi Muringa in a pink tracksuit and ninja turtle tekkies…” Who could forget the Coca Cola fountain and the fascination with the brown liquid that looked just like Coca Cola but you were strictly told not drink as it was recycled water. In a nutshell children lived for that April holiday. And who could forget Luna Park. If you were lucky you got to go at night when all the lights were on and have your fair share of all the rides.
Fast forward many years later and here I am as a young adult attending Trade Fair. It is amazing how my perspective and purpose for being at the Trade Fair has changed. During the business days, I was scouting for various businesses trading in my field of interest and was glad to make good contacts. Also I came across businesses I was not aware existed.
Many who attended the Fair from a business point of view expressed how much the exhibition had improved this year in comparison to past years when the economy was going through difficult times. They seemed impressed by the increased number of exhibitors and the quality of exhibitions.
What caught my eye the most was the effort put in by exhibitors to make their stands attractive and to offer relevant and useful information to potential customers. There were high levels of energy and an enthusiasm to exhibit the various products on offer.
I also attended the Fair in my capacity as Miss Earth Zimbabwe to highlight some of the green initiatives on display. I spent some time at the Forestry Commission Stand. Forestry Commission has been instrumental in my reign as Miss Earth helping me tackle issues of deforestation through tree planting as well as assisting with workshops to highlight the importance of trees.
I was at the Environmental Management Agency’s stand as well. EMA is instrumental in the area of Environmental Awareness, Management and Advocacy. They enforce all laws pertaining to the environment and are doing an excellent job of preserving Zimbabwe’s environment.
I managed to walk around and handout the much wanted pamphlets and take pictures with attendees of the Fair.
I really felt a great sense of Patriotism knowing I could be part of something that promotes Zimbabwe and shines the light on our nation in a positive way.
The rebuilding process will take some time, however we are the people to take over and begin rebuilding our nation. The theme of the fair was so fitting to the occasion, “Investing Locally, Reaping Globally”. As a resource rich nation, it is in our best interest to invest locally and I am confident the results will be far reaching.
Overall the Trade Fair was a good event and an exciting time for the Bulawayo people. My favourite exhibition was the Delta Beverages stand. I hope next year’s fair will be bigger and better.
“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.