The Sunday Mail
GLEN LORNE, an affluent suburb which is located in north-eastern Harare, is a sprawling estate with winding roads and rolling hills.
One of Harare’s highest and hilliest areas, this lavish suburb boasts beautiful mansions, the majority of them perching on several hills dotted around and overlooking the Glen Lorne valley.
Comparable to its well-known neighbour, Borrowdale, the suburb is home to some of the country’s wealthiest citizens and was at one time ranked the best neighbourhood in the capital city to live by the Mail & Guardian newspaper. It is not only a quiet place but also abounds with indigenous trees.
But as one will be travelling along the Harare-Nyamapanda road, passing through Glen Lorne, a homestead which is clearly out of sync with the lavish surroundings can be seen partly hidden from view.
It consists of several round and grass-thatched huts that often invite curious looks from passersby. Rabbit hutches and fowl runs are also part of the unusual setting.
In short, the set-up, including how the many residents conduct themselves, is your typical rural settlement.
Those that pass through the area have, without doubt, been asking themselves how a seemingly rural set-up ended up being planted among the splendour.
Sandwiched between mansions, this odd settlement has, over the years, been a subject of speculation.
Several people assume it is a squatter camp, but it is not!
“Those huts belong to a traditional healer who occupied this land during the late 1980s and has since then been refusing to vacate. The authorities have, on several occasions, tried to evict the family but to no avail,” a pirate taxi driver, who only identified himself as George, said.
Out of curiosity, The Sunday Mail Society made its way up the hill and briefly chatted with an elderly woman.
Throughout the interview, the woman said she found nothing amiss with the location of the seemingly ‘impoverished’ settlement in this leafy suburb.
“Many people often come up here and enquire. They are eager to know how such a seemingly rural settlement came into being. The houses are occupied by those that work here,” said the elderly woman, who opted to remain anonymous.
After further probing and scouring the place, her claims were confirmed.
The owner of the land, Mr David Peech, who himself lives in a large house, manufactures and sells hand-made carpets and rugs.
He also runs a metal art gallery in the heavily wooded yard.
Although the huts cannot be described as dilapidated and are electrified, it is clear they have seen better days.
Those that live at the compound feel there is nothing amiss in staying in round huts right in the middle of an affluent Harare suburb.
“What is wrong with living in such buildings? I have been staying at this place for 40 years now and I wonder why people always make a fuss,” added the visibly perplexed elderly woman.
Efforts to get a comment from Mr Peech were in vain as he refused to take questions from The Sunday Mail Society.
In most parts of Zimbabwe, round and grass-thatched huts are usually associated with rural settlements.
Glen Lorne was at one time a farm and evolved over time.
But like many other northern suburbs, the place became extremely attractive to affluent white residents before and after Independence. But, the place is also now home to several successful black people.