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The Educated Waiter

The Educated Waiter

  • R 24000

 Zimunhu Taruvinga, a young Zimbabwean, enrolls to study economics at Rhodes University in South Africa. As a foreign student, the fees are exorbitant, exacerbated by the fact that currency has become increasingly problematic in the ailing economy back home. Determined to graduate with a Rhodes degree, Tafadzwa is prepared to do anything – from unpacking groceries to cleaning shit-splattered toilets and waitering for a pittance. Constantly cash-strapped, most nights he goes to sleep hungry. Sometimes he needs to be inventive when concocting a meal.


I poured the boiled water into the bowl of crumby Kellogg’s Cornflakes and carefully added a few granules of Knorr powder soup over the crushed smithereens. I mixed it all together, gnashed my teeth and forced down each bite with ample struggle. I was hungry. For most it would be unfathomable, eating a meal that wasn’t one. But I wanted to graduate with a Rhodes University degree so badly that ‘Knorr cornflakes’ seemed like a reasonable supper to allay the aching pangs.

‘This is not so bad,’ I tried to convince myself as I forced down the putrid slush. In truth, it was horrible. I was all too aware that the inedible concoction was the price I must pay for my education. When the plate was clean, I washed down the meal with a glass of warm water. Then I rinsed my zebra bowl, the plastic spoon and the glass and wiped them dry. For dessert, I wept quietly.

Tafadzwa’s drive to conquer a world steeped in impenetrable hardships and prejudice is inspirational. He is a multi-faceted man: a son, a brother, a husband, a father to be, an immigrant, a waiter, a Catholic, a rebel, a graduate, a man bent on self-destruction, a man seeking redemption. Above all Tafadzwa is a true survivor.

The Educated Waiter is a groundbreaking memoir giving voice to the previously unheard plight of the immigrant graduate. A go-getter African, Tafadzwa’s story is a powerful recollection of his quest to find a better life in South Africa, Germany, the UAE and Zimbabwe. Both witty and poignant, The Educated Waiter indefatigably confronts poverty, racism, xenophobia and classism, all the while making you laugh.

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