Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
WHILE the wedding itself is certainly important, there are other factors as well.
It’s a Snapshot of Time. Wedding photos capture the bride and groom at a moment in time when they look amazing, glowing and happy.
These shots capture not just the day, but the mood, style, and individuality of the couple. They are a part of who the couple is, and what they are like.
Before the turn of the millennium, couples would rush to Gweru Civic Centre Gardens when exchanging vows in the City of Progress.
The Gweru Civic Centre Gardens are very close to the town house and used to offer the perfect place for relaxing and picnics.
Even residents after going about their business in Gweru’s city centre would find time to go and lie on the green lawn and relax on the benches that were put all over the centre’s gardens.
But that is now history.
Vagrants seem to have found a home in and around the once beautiful gardens.
Gweru City Council has failed to maintain the lawn and the lush greenery is gone, mounds of uncollected garbage and litter abound.
Flowers that gave the gardens their ambience are drying owing to lack of maintenance.
Litter collected from around the gardens is burnt in bins in the gardens.
The defined and marked footpaths have over the years been ignored and there are now ugly footpaths cutting across where the lawn used to be.
The Civic Centre had famous water fountains in front of the townhouse and a beautiful fish pond in front of Gweru Theatre.
But following years of neglect, the water fountain is not working and there is no fish in the pond.
Photographers going around taking pictures were once a permanent feature but they have relocated to the city centre along Fifth Street.
Chronicle went around the Civic Centre yesterday and was met with litter strewn everywhere. Some of the benches have broken down and haven’t been repaired or replaced.
One cannot find that yesteryear green lawn.
Couples have since turned to sprouting lodges with beautiful gardens for snap time.
That’s how sorry the state of the Civic Centre gardens have turned.
Besides the Gweru Civic Centre Gardens, council used to have employees who used to maintain parks in all the suburbs and traffic circles.
Children had beautiful playgrounds which were well manicured but now such places have been turned into vegetable gardens by residents or have been converted into residential stands.
“I grew up around 2000 and we used to play soccer at a playground near Mkoba 1 police station. There used to be a council employee working there full time. Now that playground has been turned into a garden by residents.
When traveling along Harare Road from Clonsilla into town, the space between the two roads, one going into the CBD and the other for traffic leaving the CBD all had green lawn and well-maintained flowers. But that is all gone,” said Mr
Moses Tagwira from Mkoba 11 suburb.
Chronicle caught up with a woman who was sitting on one of the benches in the park. She said she was from Mutare and was shocked to see that there is no green lawn where one can just relax.
“I am waiting for a phone call so that I can meet this person who is assisting me get employment here. I am from Mutare and this place is an eyesore. I know no one in Gweru and I thought I could find a decent place to relax and this is what I saw. It’s an eyesore,” she said.
A photographer Mr Ian Mare said they have since abandoned the Civic Centre and Gweru Theatre gardens because no newly-weds or people relaxing in their right mind will want photos taken there.
“Civic Centre no longer has business for photographers. We used to rush there because lovers on picnics, those at weddings and the general members of the public loved to have snaps taken there because it was just well maintained.
The greens were super good. Now people prefer to go and relax and get married in lodges which have beautiful gardens in and around the town,” he said.
“We wish council could do something because not every photographer is invited to these lodges where people are now resorting to.”
In an interview, Gweru City Council spokesperson Ms Vimbai Chingwaramusee said plans were afoot to restore the lost glory of the city gardens under the city’s greening programme.
“Council has embarked on the greening exercise of the Civic Centre, Town House and road corridors. Soon there will be a lot of change,” she said.
Ms Chingwaramusee said the main reason is to ensure that the local authority lure investors.
“We are running with the ‘Gweru is open for business’ mantra a hence the need to bring the ambience back. The lawn, the flowers will soon be brightening up the gardens. We budgeted $127 000 for 2021 greening,” she said.