Dreams

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I come from a land where it’s not easy to dream. I come from a land in which it is financially restricting, mentally arresting and emotionally taxing to dream. That mixed with a ruling party that takes dreams to be a treasonous act and the welfare of its people to be something never to flirt with.  It is difficult to be a dreamer. My mother always pushed and inspired me to dream big. I did not realize how my dreams were born and deeply rooted in my mother and when I was forcibly detached from her, I got lost. The death of my mother was also the death of a part of me I thought I could never get back. I forgot who I was. I forgot my dreams. I became a shadow of what my mother raised me to be. Refusing to recognize that I needed to give myself time to properly recalibrate was my biggest mistake. I dived head first into life and I made a series of bad decisions. I found myself in situations and commitments that I shouldn’t have been in. I took jobs that I shouldn’t have taken and I wasted my talents and my potential. None of these helped the cause to further my dreams or the things I have always wanted to achieve.

With time, I have been fortunate enough to find myself in the company of dreamers. I have made friends with people whose potential is unending and whose dreams reach out to corners of the world I didn’t even know existed. I have found myself starting to dream again. The dreams have begun to resurface. I am constantly breaking the chains that have been holding me down. I started writing as a way to channel my grief. Since then, my writing has taken a different turn and now serves another purpose. I have extended my writing, which was mostly always just personal musings, to documenting the lives of the people I encounter on a daily basis. The biggest dream for teenage me was to travel the world, see and tour various tourist attractions and experience as many different cultures as I could.  That dream is back and it’s more powerful than I’ve ever felt it. It demands to be fulfilled but with a bit of a twist now.

I dream to give a voice to my people. Recently, the narrative about Africa has begun to change thanks to a rise in the number of African people who have decided to speak for themselves. The world is awash with false narratives about Africa because the story tellers of previous eras had a particular picture of Africa they wanted to paint. Now it is time for African stories by African voices and it is these voices that I want to chase and give a platform to be heard, or in this case read. This one time, I was speaking to a friend of mine about this dream of mine and she lit a fire under it. She gave me contacts in some of the countries I want to visit and I started making the necessary plans. In the midst of all this planning, the same person (bless your soul Vimbai) sent me a link to the #Faces2Hearts competition. I don’t know if it was deliberate on her end but the competition offered me exactly what I was looking for. Winning the #Faces2Hearts competition would steam roll my dreams in ways I don’t even want to imagine lest I overexcite myself. The experience I would get from the #Faces2Hearts journey would also go a very long way in preparing me for the solo journeys I want to embark on afterwards.

To whoever is reading this, you should know that your dreams are valid. As farfetched and as distant as they might seem, they are valid. I know circumstances may be extremely limiting but do everything in your power to pursue your dreams. You might feel small. You might feel incapable. Yet I say this to you, dare to dream. So I make this declaration and I make it with certainty. I will realize my dream.  It might take me a while and it might bleed me dry but I will attain it.

Please do watch, like, comment and share my application for the #Faces2Hearts competition here. Share using the hashtag #Faces2Hearts. Thank you for your support.

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Day to Day Zimbabwe: Chapter 4 – Taka

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The groans of his daughter wake him up. Her pain is apparent even in her sleep and another wave of helplessness hits him. He checks the time, 02:37. Takadini knows his daughter cannot endure the pain until daylight. He has to take her to the hospital this very moment. Trying not to wake his wife and ailing daughter, he gets off the bed and feels around for a shirt. Taka sneaks out of the house and walks to Steven’s house. He hopes Steven will be there and that he’ll be willing and understanding enough to help him. Steven is a cab driver and he may not be back from his evening shift. Taka gets to Steven’s house and knocks on the door. He hears some movement from inside and stops knocking. Someone is coming. “Ndiani?” (Who is it?), and Taka immediately recognizes Steven’s voice.  “NdiTaka” (Its Taka), he replies. The few minutes it took Steven to find the keys and unlock the door felt like hours to Taka. When the door eventually opened, Taka couldn’t wait for pleasantries or manners and he blurted out “Mwana wangu arwara. Ndokumbirawo kuperekedzwa kuchipatara. Ndamboedza kumirira kuti kuyedze asi zvaramba”. (My child is sick. Please can you take us to the hospital. I tried waiting for sunrise but it can’t wait any longer). Steven could hear the panic and pain in Taka’s voice and he knew what he had to do. “Rega ndinotora mota kucar park. Ndiri kuuya kumba kwenyu.” (Let me get the car from the car park and come to your house). Taka turned around and started jogging to his house. There was no time to waste on thanks.

He heard the soft sobs as soon as he walked through the door and he panicked. He immediately composed himself and he walked into the bedroom. He couldn’t let his wife see what he was feeling. It would feed her panic and he wasn’t going to do that to her. “Ndataura naStavho”, he said. “Handei naye kuchipatara”. (I spoke to Steven. Let’s take her to the hospital). Monalisa rose and started packing a few things in a bag. Taka went to his daughter and lifted her onto his chest. He cradled her and she held onto him. Tears started welling up in his eyes but he fought their flow. When Monalisa was finished packing the bag, they walked out of the house in silence and met Steven outside. Steven opened the car door and Taka laid his daughter on the back seat. “Ndiri kuuya”, (I’m coming), he said to no one in particular. He went back into their bedroom and rummaged through the wardrobe for the envelope in which he kept his money. He knew the exact contents of that envelope and although he knew he was taking a long shot, he still had to try. He took the $10 that was the last money in his house and put it in his pocket. He let out a heavy sigh as he locked his door.

He felt like the drive had taken ages but they had finally arrived at the hospital. Parirenyatwa had an eerie feeling and if he had a choice he wouldn’t have come here. The nurses had asked him to pay a $15 consultation fee so his daughter could see a doctor and be admitted. He had asked  to pay $10 while he looked for the rest but they had refused. “Hatibvumidzwe pamutemo baba” (We aren’t allowed by the rules), one of the nurses had said. His daughter was clearly in more pain and she was sweating. He stood up and paced around impatiently. He felt her heaving and he knew what was coming. His daughter threw up and he held her as she did. He saw the blood immediately and he called out to the nurses. One of the nurses stood up and walked briskly to where Taka was standing. She looked at the ailing child and went back to her station. Taka had seen the look on her face and he knew it wasn’t good. He overheard the nurses arguing among themselves. They were clearly conflicted but it sounded like they had their hands tied.  His daughter threw up again, more blood.

He had been in the hospital for 6 hours and his daughter had never been attended to.  The nurses had apologized over and over but it was pointless. His wife was sitting on the floor with her sister holding her. She had stopped crying for a while and she was just sitting there staring into the oblivion. The rest of her family was milling around, whispering among them self. If anyone asked him what had happened in the past hour, he wouldn’t be able to answer. He had a sea of question flowing violently through his mind but he had no answers. She was gone. Her body had eventually given up. He had no medical aid, he couldn’t afford it anyway. The money he had wasn’t enough to get his daughter treatment. He started walking aimlessly and found himself outside the parameters of the hospital. He sat down on a rock near the fence and that’s when he saw the headline. “President appointed WHO (World Health Organization) goodwill ambassador. He put his head in his hands and he wept.

Featured image source : https://static.euronews.com/articles/358636/400x225_358636

Day to Day Zimbabwe

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I started a series to tell day to day stories of ordinary Zimbabweans, stories that wouldn’t be told under any other circumstances. I wrote three stories in the series but I had to abandon it due to an unforeseen turn of events. I believe I have the capacity to resume the series and see it to its end. The stories I tell in the series are based on actual events in the country. Although I turn these stories into ‘fiction’, most of what they communicate is facts and actual occurrences.

The first three stories appeared on The Lens Blur , a blog where people share their unfinished stories, incomplete thoughts and drawings. Seemingly fitting that my unfinished stories were there, and this is my attempt to finish those stories. The links to the first three chapters are below this for those who didn’t get a chance to read them. See you in chapter four.

https://6legend.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/day-to-day-zimbabwe-chapter-1-matemai/

https://6legend.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/day-to-day-zimbabwe-chapter-2-amai-chido/

https://6legend.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/77/

Featured image source: http://img.freeflagicons.com/thumb/waving_flag/zimbabwe/zimbabwe_640

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Day to Day Zimbabwe: Chapter 3 – VaNcube

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A knock by the door wakes him up from his light nap. He opens the door and it’s a familiar face. “Mamukasei vaNcube?”, the messenger greets him. “Ndamuka kana mamukawo”, he responds. The messenger silently hands him the letter. They don’t say anything because they both know what the letter is about. They’ve done this six times this year alone. It’s another eviction warning from the lawyers representing the mine. They want him out of the house he lives in, if he cannot pay the rentals they’re demanding. He doesn’t open the letter. It’ll say he has until the 30th to pay the rentals he owes and until the 15th of next month to pay the rentals for the current month. He sits down carefully on the sofa which has been propped up by bricks since he could remember. Too much force and it’ll buckle. He puts his head in his hands and he weeps.

When Shabanie mine temporarily closed, vaNcube and all his colleagues were left jobless. They were told they’d be called back to work when the mine resumed operations but they soon realized that was never going to happen. The mine had died and for a mining town that spelled doom. If it wasn’t for the opening of Mimosa mine, the whole town of Zvishavane would have become nothing but a memory. Unlike some of his co-workers, vaNcube hadn’t been able to get a job with the new mine. A boiler maker at Shabanie mine for 15 years, he was now surviving on the odd welding job. These weren’t easy to come by as the new generation of welders had better equipment than he did. He couldn’t afford to get the latest welding technology and hence, he couldn’t get piece jobs. All he had to show for his 15 years at the mine was the house which the Lawyers were about to evict him from. The mine was asking its former employees to pay rentals or be evicted, knowing full well that the former employees had no source of income. The empty houses were then rented out to students at the newly opened Midlands State University (MSU) campus in Zvishavane. Even the mine offices had been rented out to MSU.

“Maswerasei baba?”, his son greets him. “Ndaswera Timo”, he responds. “Kwanga kurisei kusango?”, he enquires. “Hakuna chirikubuda”, Timothy says. “Hakusisina matombo uku”, he explains further. Timothy is a gold panner. He goes to pan for the precious mineral in the bushes outside of Zvishavane. There are many young men in this trade and the gold reserves have been exhausted. It is becoming difficult with each passing day to get any gold. “Tsamba iya yauya nhasi zvakare”, vaNcube says referring to the eviction notice. “Mwedzi uno handifunge kuti mari tinoiwana baba”, Timo says, the dejection evident in his words. They sit in silence for what seems like an eternity. “Tambozama baba”, Timo says. His father remains silent, staring at the wall as if he can see through it. “Regai tiende tinogara kumusha. Ndoramba ndichikorokoza tiri ikoko”, Timothy continues. VaNcube continues to sit in silence. After a few minutes he sighs. He bows his head and mumbles the words he didn’t want to. “Hande kumusha mwanangu.”

 

Day to Day Zimbabwe : Chapter 2 – Amai Chido

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The sun burning her back, she bends down to rearrange her piles of tomatoes. She has sold 4 piles today, not bad. As she gets back onto her makeshift seat, she sees her son walking towards her holding a lunchbox. He managed to get them lunch. “Maswerasei mhamha”, he greets her. “Ndaswera kana waswerawo”, she responds. “Wamboona Chido kwawabva uko?”, she asks after her daughter, the eldest of her two children. “Ariko kumusoro uko. Ndiye andipa mari yesadza”, he replies. They eat their lunch in silence. The hunger demands it is so. This is their first meal of the day and they devour it. The sadza & sugar beans disappear in no time and the meal is chased down by water fetched from a burst council pipe. After the meal, Tatenda runs back to the set of traffic lights around the corner where he stands all day begging for money from the cars passing by.

Human traffic increases as the day comes to an end. Mai Chido sprinkles water on the tomatoes she’s selling, to keep them fresh and appealing. She sells her tomatoes at a $1 for 30 units. For every pile she sells, she gets $0.20 profit. On the street she sells on, there are twelve others selling the exact same produce. Competition is stiff. A young lady approaches and Mai Chido calls out to her. “Huyai muone zvenyu askana, kuona mahara”. “Imarii madomasi enyu?”, the lady asks. “$1 for 30”, Mai Chido answers. “Dai maita $1 for 35 ka nhai mother”, the lady replies. Mai Chido knows she’s cutting her profits but she agrees. If she hadn’t agreed, the lady would have moved down the street looking for the same bargain until someone eventually gives in.

Mai Chido sighs as she starts thinking about her life and how she got here. Just 15 years ago, she was happily married and her husband was working in the Industrial Area in Workington. The industries have long been closed and her husband was retrenched. Now he spends his days drinking ‘musombodhiya’, an illicit alcohol brew that has grown popular. She doesn’t remember the last time she saw him sober. He is a lost cause. “Ko munodii kumusiya murume wacho?”, her friends always quiz. Mai Chido can not bring herself to leave him. She feels sorry for him. Everyday she sends Tatenda to find him and give him $1 and buy him sadza with another $1. Sometimes he trades his sadza for ‘musombodhiya’. He’d rather be hungry than sober.

Tatenda is back from his post at the traffic lights. He has $1.60 on him today. Today was a good day. He hands the money to his mother and she puts it in her wallet. “Maita basa Soko”, she says in thanks. He’s 12 now and has since dropped out of school. She can’t afford to pay school feels. He sits in silence behind his mother. An hour later, Chido arrives. She’s still wearing her orange bib which indicates that she sells airtime. “Manheru mhamha”, she greets her mum with a faint smile. “Manheru Chido. Kwanga kuri sei kubasa?”, her mother enquires. “Kwanga kuri nani hako”, she says and sits down, her exhaustion apparent.

The day has worn off and the human traffic has thinned out. “Chiendai henyu kumba”, Mai Chido instructs her children. “Muudze Tindo andiunzire madomasi e$5 mangwana”. She hands Tatenda $2 and he doesn’t need to ask what it’s for. He’ll go around the shebeens looking for his father when he gets home. “Mari yesadza unayo here Chido?”, she asks. “Ehe ndinayo”, Chido replies. “Tokuonai mangwana”, she adds on as they start to walk. They will walk from the CBD to their home in Mbare. Getting a kombi is an expense they can do without.

The CBD is empty after 10pm. No more customers will come to buy the produce. Mai Chido packs her things away and retrieves a blanket from one of the baskets on her spot. All the women along the street are also packing their goods away and preparing to sleep. They do not go home because it is too costly to carry their wares back and forth everyday. So they sleep on the sidewalk, exposing themselves to the danger of being attacked. It is the only way they can survive and they take it with all its risks. As she puts her head on her makeshift pillow, she utters a small quiet prayer. “Mwari tiitireiwo nyasha”, she says as she falls asleep, the toll of the day and many before weigh down on her as she shuts her eyes.

 

Day to Day Zimbabwe : Chapter 1 – Matemai

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His alarm chimes and he slowly pulls himself up. 5am. His wife takes a deep breath but doesn’t wake up from her slumber. She’s still tired from yesterday’s work. Matemai, as he is affectionately known, gets off the bed and steps over his two children lying on the reed mat on the floor. Searching in the small pile of clothes on the floor, he picks out his clothes for the day. The driver will be by the road in 15 minutes. He washes his face in the sink outside and puts his towel on the line to dry. Mai Megan will take it in once it is sufficiently dry. At 5:30 on the dot, the kombi he works with pulls up and he takes up his position at the door. Matemai is a mini-bus conductor. Elder, the driver, and Matemai mumble their greetings to each other. It’s too early for any energetic conversation. They start driving around in the wee hours of the morning seeking passengers to ferry into the CBD. “Town mota” (this mini-bus is going to town) , Matemai shouts at every person he sees standing by the road side. It’s early and many people are heading to the CBD for work and school so their kombi fills up quickly. The driver speeds along the highway towards the CBD. He has no regard for speed limits, the safety of the people he’s carrying or the safety of other traffic. Time is all that matters to him. The quicker he goes back and forth between the CBD and Kuwadzana, the more money they make.

Matemai, standing awkwardly by the door, asks the passengers to pay. “Ngatibhadharei vabereki. 4-4 sekugara kwatakaita. Vane macoin ipai vamwe ini handimade ane noise” (Lets pay up. Put your money together with those you’re seated with. Those with coins, give them to the people next to you, I don’t want them. They’re noisy.) The passengers chuckle at his joke and proceed to pay the bus fare. 50c from their homes into the CBD. Matemai counts the money he has received and it amounts to $9. All 18 passengers have paid. “Maita basa” (thank you), he says as he signals to Elder that it’s ok to turn up the volume on the radio. Traffic is thick as they approach the CBD but Elder has been driving kombis for a long time. He knows how to maneuver his way through the traffic. At some point, he drives on the island separating the roads and they’re at their drop off point in no time. As the passengers disembark, Matemai goes to the ‘rank marshal’ and they’re put on the log book to load and head back to Kuwadzana. They’ll load after 6 kombis. Not a bad start.

2 hours later, it’s their turn. Elder parks the kombi facing the road and keeps the engine running. They’re on an illegal loading zone and a fast exit might be required. It’s still early and there are not many people going to Kuwadzana. The loading process is slow. 11 passengers are in the kombi now and a semi formally dressed gentleman approaches the kombi. Matemai gets inside, closes the door and locks it. “Vabereki ndivharireiwo mawindow” (Please close the windows), he instructs the passengers inside. They oblige. The gentleman gets to the kombi and asks, “Iri kuenda Kuwadzana here?” (Is this kombi going to Kuwadzana?). Matemai ignores the gentleman and instead addresses his colleagues who are sitting on the road side. “Vanoenda here ava?” (Does this gentleman look like he’s going to Kuwadzana?). His colleagues shake their heads in unison and Matemai closes the window. The gentleman is a city council police officer dressed in civilian clothing. Had he been allowed to board the he kombi, he would have impounded the vehicle and most certainly demanded a bribe. Matemai’s instincts have saved him and Elder some hard earned money. The gentleman walks off and Matemai opens the door once more to let passengers in.

2pm, Matemai and Elder have their lunch. A plate of sadza for each one of them purchased at a dollar a plate. They wash it down with a shared liter of coke. They discuss their latest trip and laugh. One passenger hadn’t paid and it took them a while to figure out who. “Asina kubhadhara ngaandipoo mari yangu” (whoever hasn’t paid, please can I have my money), Matemai had repeated over and over to no avail. They had had to resort to refunding the passengers, tracing where each of the fares had come from. They caught their culprit, a young man who looked drunk. They had been stopped by police at a road block and they had to pay the police $15. Every kombi pays the police this $15 everyday without fail. What this money is for, no one knows. No one cares anymore. It’s is the norm on the road. If they don’t pay this money, the police will arrest them and delay them for as long as they can. They could even impound the car. Valuable time would be lost and time is money, literally. It’s easier to pay the $15 and work freely throughout the day.

9pm and several trips later, Matemai is exhausted. This will be their last trip of the day. After they drop off all the passengers at their various bus stops, they drive to the bosses house, the owner of the kombi. They give him $70 daily for 5 days, Monday to Friday. Saturday is the day on which they work for their salary. Whatever they make on Saturday, they spilt 70-30. Most conductors get 15-20% of the Saturday earnings. Elder is generous. If during the week they surpass the $70 target, Matemai gets $5-$10 depending on the amount of surplus.

10:30pm and Matemai enters the room he calls home. His children are fast asleep. He hasn’t seen them in 4 days now. He leaves while they’re asleep and comes back home when they’re asleep. Mai Megan is seating on the bed counting her earnings from the vendor stall she runs. Matemai takes out the $5 he got on the day and hands it to her. She looks up at him and smiles. They share no conversation. They’re both too tired to talk. Matemai doesn’t eat at home. The food at home is for his wife and children. They have to save as much as they can so they can survive. Mai Megan packs away her things and prepares to get into bed. Matemai gets into bed and immediately falls asleep. His arms hurt from constantly opening and shutting the kombi door. His back hurts from standing in a hunched position when the kombi is traveling. His legs, even worse. Mai Megan blows the candle and gets into bed with her husband. She puts her arm around him and tries to wake him up. Maybe today he’ll be able to wake up and give her a little attention. It’s been long since they’ve been intimate. He doesn’t wake up. He is too exhausted. She turns away from him, sighs deeply and falls into her own slumber.

Flirting With Rock Bottom

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Zimbabwe. *sigh*. We are headed for rock bottom for the second time in a decade and the people of my country are panicking, rightly so.

The year is 2008 and we are expecting elections. The country’s currency is worthless. In public transport, they don’t even count it anymore. It just has to be the right size or anywhere close. There’s no point in counting it. To begin with, that would be a lot of work for the conductor. Secondly, a few hundred don’t make any difference. It’s all worth nothing. Shops are empty. Not like they have a few commodities. They are empty. The few supplies that arrived in the morning were sold out within an hour. The manager told the people who weren’t able to get anything earlier that the truck went to look for more supplies so the customers are still milling around outside hoping some more goods will come. It will be three days before the shop receives anymore stock. The economic intricacies that led to all that fly over my head. One thing I do know is that there was endless printing of “money” which hyper inflated in a few hours and led to the printing of more money. 2018 elections are coming up and it’s like déjà vu. Endless printing of money. The money losing value on the street. Prices of goods going up in supermarkets. Fuel queues returning. Kombi fare increasing. Panic is setting in and conversations are about how the situation might become what it was in 2008 or worse. Whether this is right or not, I don’t know. All I know is that the recipe for disaster is here and we might be cooking a huge pot of it.

I admit, I’m scared. In 2008, I was still in high school and although I was largely shielded from the direct effects of the things that happened, I felt it. I remember how we skipped meals then ate things that didn’t make sense when the school did manage to find something. At one point, we ate cabbage cooked with peanut butter (I kid you not). When they eventually found cooking oil, they mistakenly put it in a drum that previously carried diesel and we had to eat vegetables that smelled and tasted like diesel for a month. That is how terrible the situation in 2008 was. It was so bad, it was better to have diesel soaked cooking oil because the alternative was having nothing at all. If the situation returns to anything close to that, I simply don’t know how and if I will survive it.

As a nation, we have learnt over and over that our government doesn’t really care for the people. As long as they have the means to feed their families, keep their bank accounts filled to the brim and have their children shop in Gucci stores, they are good. Their main priority is winning elections and after that, nothing really matters. Between 60-75% of Zimbabweans are living in abject poverty, depending on where you get the statistics. According to Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira, the number is 72.3%. We are talking over 10 million people. TEN MILLION. Meanwhile we are sending a delegation of 70 people, including a toddler, to New York. They do not care.

So what now? I don’t have the answers. I am also part of those people waiting to hear what to do next. However, I know that after the 2008 elections and the subsequent GNU, things got a lot better. We adopted the USD and became a USD based economy (which we have somehow managed to destroy. Commendable). That economic turnaround was a direct result of those elections. ZANU didn’t relinquish power but they did agree to form an inclusive government with the MDC. That, and that alone, is why the economy turned for the better. So I believe our answers lie in the ballot box. ZANU might not relinquish power but they will get the message and that’s all it takes to have some change at least. The last elections were in 2013 and not many people turned up to vote. I am one of those people and here we are. Zimbabweans under 40 need to particularly take interest and have an active role in the outcome of the elections next year because we have been the most affected by the decay of this country. I am inspired by Fadzayi Mahere and how she has taken matters into her own hands for her constituency. She went from a lawyer with an opinion to a political force that is growing with each passing day. Single handedly, her efforts to engage the voting populace have been nothing short of phenomenal. She has also shown how important inclusion of women and youth in politics is and that is very much needed. Inclusion is something I will talk about one of these good days.

We are here. We can change this. The change might not come in the desired way of removing fossils but it will come in one form or another. What remains of our futures and the futures of our children are at stake. If you are eligible to, please, register to vote in 2018.

Weekly Shona or Ndebele proverb : Chisingaperi chinoshura

Translation : All things come to an end

Featured image source : http://m5.paperblog.com/i/64/641904/is-life-hopeless-my-time-in-the-shower-confir-L-5plxON