Watching horror movies at the bank

Being entirely city bred, I have always been fascinated by the cinema - the bioscope, as we called it in Harare township in the 1940s.

Being entirely city bred, I have always been fascinated by the cinema - the bioscope, as we called it in Harare township in the 1940s.

But I have recently been handed a lesson in movie watching that has left me feeling homicidal.

As you might appreciate, we urbanites now spend half our lives in bank queues, because the government is broke - they won't say so: we would demand they resign in a bloodless self-inflicted coup, let someone else get in the saddle, to point us in the direction of Destination Prosperity.

So, what they tell us is that the problem of cash is a plot by the banks to aid Britain's "regime change", a euphemism for the forcible removal of President Robert Mugabe's government, including that suave, unflappable banker, Gideon Gono, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe who, as far as most of us are concerned, is The Chief Villain of the Piece.

But what they are saying sounds like a vile falsehood. They say the banks are showing horror movies in their banking halls to plant deadly thoughts of destruction in our minds.

As you wait in the queue, why else would they bombard you, on their TV screen with videos of how deadly hippos, lions and leopards can be on the prowl?

I have stood there watching a hippo almost tear a man apart. I have been lectured on the extremely sophisticated composition of the hippo's jaws and how they are so strong they could masticate a whole human being in a jiffy.

Then they switch to the leopard which weighs less than a lion, but has such enormously powerful muscles it can carry a dead animal twice its weight up a tree.

We watch this all in glorious colour, with the commentary giving us a graphic and terrifying portrait of murder in the jungle.

All this is spiced up with advertisements of the bank and music videos, one of them of Lucky Dube singing about - interestingly - Victims.

But it's always the bloodshed among the animals that sets me contemplating homicide. Perhaps the banks don't realise how, inadvertently, they are posing a question to their clients: is this one way of solving your problem?

People have used abusive language against the banks and against Gono. You would understand their indignation if you too were forced to spend a whole day queuing for your own money, and then to be told that they couldn't give it to you - because Gono's bank had not given any to them.

People have tried to juxtapose their plight with that of other Africans: South Africa, where the murder rate is the highest in the world; with Somalia, where they have been killing each other since Siad Barre fled the country with his tail between his legs in 1991; the DRC, where they have been killing each other since Laurent Kabila was assassinated nearly eight years ago; Kenya, where a disputed election led to 600 deaths.

Still, they believe their torture at the banks is probably the worst punishment endured under Mugabe's government.

What consoles them is this final clip: it is either the bank or the government being carried, dead, by the other animal up a tree.

Down below, in the lush green grass, stand the innocent people, watching the two villains destroy each other. When THE END flashes on the screen, they walk away, happy and contented.