Festive partying culture, media cocktails now a distant memory
OVER a decade ago, when Zimbabwe’s economy seemed to be experiencing a revival during the Government of National Unity, we media hacks would have received countless invitations to countless social gatherings to mark the end of the year.
Needless to say, you could not obviously honour all of them — some you attended, some you politely declined due to the busy hectic schedule.
End-of-year parties and media cocktails were such a big deal! Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, the invitations would be accompanied by bottles of fine wine or high-end whiskey for the editors and re porters.
The invitations were often hand-delivered and the invited guests would sign a book to show receipt of the gifts. And a colourful Christmas card with a best wishes message was also a must. Not the electronic ones doing the rounds on social media now!
Once a reporter got their share of the invitations, they would know the festive season was really upon us. Most companies would throw endof-year parties and the media were most welcome. This was the time when companies would spend their profits, making sure the cocktails and end-of-year parties were worth attending.
More often than not, companies would spend big on the parties and media cocktails. But before we knew it, the companies, due to the economic meltdown, started cutting down on expenditure. So gradually, the end-of-year parties were left to workers’ committees to organise, but they faced cashflow challenges.
And in no time, the workers’ committees began looking for sponsorship from well-wishers. That is how end-of-year parties fizzled out. With no money to spend, it means there is no festivity as was the case before when Christmas time brought the carnival experience, and so much to cheer! It was not just cocktails that drew the attention of the media but also the freebies, especially braai and booze — endless rounds of drinks!
And at every other media cocktail, some invited and others uninvited would throng and make themselves comfortable. But even though food and drinks were plentiful, journalists being journalists, they appeared to be born of the same mother. They simply cannot be content and they always want to take a doggy pack.
Some had the propensity of hiding beer bottles underneath the tables or shoving drink into their backpacks. While this was inevitable, the festive culture of partying and media cocktails could accommodate everyone. I remember the streets would be chaotic due to noise from the blurring speakers.
The parties would compete and in the end it would be chaotic in the streets. This was because the bonuses were taken for granted and companies would ensure that employees got their 13th cheque. Like they say, the good old days are no more. Today’s up-and-coming journalists can only imagine how good the old days were.