Movies, books, stories that have a good bad guy have always done so well in box offices and on the New York best seller list. Heath Ledgers’ performance on the Dark Knight is one of my ultimate favorite villain performances of all time…well, after Balthazar from Despicable Me 3 of course…the ultimate masters of not giving a shit. I wonder if it is any reflection of our ability to relate and recognize our very own darkness… that has settled quietly for now…hidden in the depths of our souls…waiting for the perfect excuse to implode. Yes, the Christian in us tries to keep this dark side under wraps…under the beautiful silky sheets….under the covers that perfectly disguise…where no one or very few people should ever know. Most of us are obsessed with proving our goodness and chaste hearts for there is always a great reward promised for the angelic. That alone shines such a dark selfishness where our actions are led by a promise of a heaven and an acknowledgement by the saints and not by a sheer longing to shine our light with no expected honor in sight. Darkness has always been associated with failure and shame so no one will ever claim it ever so proudly. It is an energy that we almost have to fight against all our lives. Nobody wants to accept they have darkness in them, but its not possible to have a light without the dark. They need each other to coexist for darkness is the absence of light and only self awareness reveals the true presence of the other in you. Knowing thy darkest side is also revealing your brightest light. This dark side doesn’t necessarily have to be extreme…it is as normal as the air we breathe. If you have ever been consumed by rage and felt like punching the daylights out of someone…or by poisonous jealousy fueled by self hatred and insecurity…or self destructive pain that longs to feel within an empty vessel that has lost hope to the meaning of life…or if you have gloated over someone else’s pain and misery to nurse your own wounds of imperfection, the list is endless…that is a dark side…and yours alone.
Seems society advocates for people to hide the dark and bring out the light first instead but I believe a lot of problems emanate from that self righteous chasing act. Deep down we know we are faking it and trying too hard and sooner or later we will show the real side through impulsive actions, in the vile words we speak in anger, which we can also mask prudently as “mistakes”. How about trying the opposite stance…allow the darkness to envelope us so that the only thing left to do is bring out our light… following the path of least resistance. I can bet the only thing that will be left will be light when real… raw… hardcore darkness unraveling is allowed . There will be no constant battles to look right, no conflict within causing all sorts of eruptions and disruptions in our lives. There will be freedom of being…of just being. I may sound like a little evil witch suggesting this but there is a great deal of pain that comes from hiding these parts of ourselves…we are both dark and light. If it were common for people to show their flaws, thoughts and demons freely, then they will be judged less and we normalize imperfection. Our greatest suffering in the human condition comes from judging ourselves and others for the parts of us that are less acceptable in society. The more we hide the dark, the darker it becomes…the monster ravenously feeds on an unreleased pit of stress within, leaving a string of powerful toxic potential energy waiting to explode. There is freedom in flaws…a what if flow…where no answers have been found yet, open for discovery and correction. Where what’s really there is left to be exactly what it is. That truth…just lying there… for all to witness and see.
Now…coming back to earth… the above is obviously difficult for most to attain or even start to practice without adverse reactions from society. It only works when everyone is on the same page. Please don’t go about cursing people out out loud and then blame me for an ass whooping. Maybe….just maybe…one way is to look for a way for a release of these energies in a healthy way…creatively. There is a reason why passion and talent is usually connected with originality and creation of the new because it only comes from a source that only you can feel hidden within. Most people can forgive a raunchy dance move…damning songs, weird designs of cloth …structures… architecture…the weirder the better for it is all a longing to defy…comedy and tasteless roasts…explicit poetry …free flow unbound writing. Many can be forgiven for violent sport…an alter ego creation is paramount in any art and it is fed by the depths of both dark and light. It can be so different from who you portray yourself to be in normal society…it can even have the power to set you free in such a constricting world. We idolize people who excel in their creative spaces because it is the real expression of who they are that we see and recognize. Its as if someone holds a mirror to our face and only in that moment do we allow for rules to be bent…to defy gravity in sport…manners in songs…morality in art.
In the bosom of where your dark knight hides, is where your truth lies. He will reveal to you where healing is deeply required and it is where self expression dances with the wind and plays with the kings.
Everytime iv “fallen” for someone I lose my wits temporarily. I acknowledge logic would still exist somewhere in my head but practical wisdom flees completely. They call it falling for a reason. There is no place for wisdom in the “falling” process. You see yourself start to sniff everywhere for their perfume when they leave so as to hold on to their presence a little longer. You replay your moments together in your head…you remember when their ear twitched…or when their eyebrow raised…when and how they smiled or how the wind blew the hair on their face…better still, when they scratched their butt and you thought it was cute🤦. You can’t even say some of the things out loud for you will be judged for sure. You lose precious hours in endless day dreams. You walk around feeling dazed, hypnotized and willingly lost. It is a drug. Some strong ass issh. It’s the most amazing drug in the world. It completely alters your physiology, psychology and the laws of the universe are bent and altered at your command. Anything becomes possible. Somehow gravity is defied as you float about in your bubble. That’s why I will never be a judge to anyone going through the process. I have been there before…most of us have. Anyone who has done something dumb while in that phase should not be held accountable for their actions and this should be made legal because it’s not a drug you willingly take. It is a global pandemic with only reality slapping you in the face for a cure. If it stays good, you then, with time…as the effects start to fade…say you are now in love…graduated from the “falling” aspect of it…and then when you are more mature and realistic about it, you get to love them “for who they are” which of course is another way of saying ” I have discovered their “evil spirits” but I think I can still handle it” lol. The true person, not the made up fantasy you had initially, has finally shown up when you love them “for who they are”. This is when you are hopefully fully aware of their flaws and have maybe accepted the reality of who they are. It’s only real if you are REALLY in touch with the reality of who your person really is because sometimes we love the idea of who they should be or who they can be and waste so much energy loving a person who in reality doesn’t exist and never will…they only exist in fantasy. Any phase lower than truly loving someone for who they are becomes a slow decline towards the death of the dream from “concussion” on your heart from the “fall” and heartbreak is eminent. You will be lucky to walk away scot-free… undamaged. Heartbreak is gruesome and cruel and it does not spare even the kindest souls.
Heartbreak has been, in my opinion, the real culprit to perpetual pain in love. It is the fear of it…the flashbacks of it…the heart wrenching experience of it. It can be so bad it can shut down an entire heart and leave it stone cold. It really is one hurt person creating another hurt person to hurt the next. The experience of heartbreak is like shredding apart your core to bits and pieces with no guide on how to put them back together again. Nobody can feel it out for you. It’s a lonely road you have to face alone. In as much loved ones can hold your hand through it, they won’t really know what you are going through. So let’s dissect it further to see why it hurts so bad. From such a high, to the “bottomest” lows that feel like the pits of hell. Why is it so? I wish I knew the answer but this is my theory.
The game of love is really a game with the self. The love of self. The better you love yourself, the better you become at it. Every relationship is a mirror to teach you and bring awareness to what’s really going on inside. Each and every partner reflects to you who you are. Reflect on it…take a deep breath…and it will come flooding to you what I mean. Each partner comes with an opportunity to love yourself better and help them love themselves better. You can’t give what you don’t have, neither can somebody give you what they don’t have and you can never force them to because they don’t know how to. You cannot receive what you don’t know how to receive nor give what another does not want to receive or is not ready to receive. There are no victims in love…unless you are forced into a relationship otherwise you are in the position of allowing whatever happens to happen. There has to be an exact balance of give and take for it to be successful and for it to work. You have to be at the same vibrational frequency with your person for them to really be your person in a sustainable and healthy way. There is no universal manual to love and everything depends on individual desires and needs.
So because of that, my hypothesis of why heartbreak is so painful almost to a soul level is that you would have failed loving yourself better yet again. There’s nothing more painful than betrayal to the self because at the end of the day we have no control over other people and cannot be held responsible for how they act but deep down we do hold ourselves accountable for how we allow others to treat us whether we are aware of it or not. I believe the more painful heartbreak is, the longer we ignored red flags. Heartbreak emanates from fear of not being loved back adequately or at all by someone we love and poured ourselves into. Heartbreak is inevitable in our lifetime but allowing it to corrupt your heart and leave you hurt for life is now a struggle with ourselves. Do we believe we are loveable? Can we trust ourselves to make better decisions next time? Do we believe that love should not be forced and if it doesn’t work out we are strong enough to move on and try again? If we don’t believe all those things we then lose trust in ourselves and our choices in love. Ever wonder why after years of healing from heartbreak you ask yourself what you ever saw in that person? It’s because it really never was about them. It was a love affair between the depths of who you are and how it manifested in your reality through someone else. Can you imagine being the person you can’t count on to have your back. It’s one of the most painful things you can ever feel.
It is common knowledge that a considerable number of our Zimbo dads struggle as husbands….and when they struggle as husbands they ultimately struggle as dads. Struggle is an understatement. Intimate relationships are the most difficult things to master in a lifetime. They challenge us, humble us, break us, build us…they fulfill us…they make us feel inadequate. I have had my share of relationships with men…all good men I believe. When it didn’t work out, I think it was an issue of incompatibility and differences in values. Who is not good? Someone becomes bad when they deviate from what we expect them to be. So in a fair and inclusive world, the truth is that everyone has their reasons for acting the way they do whether twisted or straight. It is their truth.
I remember sugar daddies became popular when I was as young as grade 4. I remember them being an issue. They were fathers and husbands…all with potbellies in my mind…with money to spoil. They would go after young girls in school uniforms. Then we had the small houses era, where our fathers decided to have a younger unofficial woman…well the common belief was that shed be younger anyways. Then now he’s a “blesser”. He blesses the expensive lifestyle of a “slay queen”. The “blesser” is not necessarily a married and taken man but most times they are. The terms used to describe all these shenanigans have evolved throughout the years…but the issue is still the same. Our men, brothers, fathers…have an insatiable and almost unquenchable thirst for the other woman and for some…over the years, it becomes many other women.
Now the truth is some of these men forget their obligations at home while they have the time of their life. For some guys, he may be faithful but be emotionally unavailable…too much of a workaholic or doesn’t even know what it means to have a woman call him her husband…with whatever her expectations may be, which may seem impossible to fulfil for him. The reality for the husband is that if he ever messes up with the wife, he has pretty much messed up with the kids as well, especially when they get to find out. All kids are protective of their moms. That’s their heart. Its hard to see your mother crying because of the pain your father has put her through. Its a crime that is hard to forgive. I had a conversation with a friend who admits to how harsh he had been with his dad after finding out how he’d cheated on his mom. Now that he is a grown man and has his own family, he finds himself making the same mistakes that his father made, he is now standing in his fathers shoes.
As women, we sometimes use the kids to punish our men. Sometimes it may not be a case of infidelity but when two people have separated or divorced and a fight occurs, the kids are often thrown in the middle of the fight. They have to choose a side and that side is usually moms’ side because she is the vulnerable one. She is the one with the tears they can see. Men in our culture are not supposed to be seen as emotional. Most of us have seen, on very few times or never… our fathers dropping tears. We have intertwined the relationship between a man and woman with the relationship they have with their kids. Men with their “bad” behavior have traded their right to acknowledge their pain, for punishment for all their sin. In turn we have children with so many daddy issues. Its worse for the traditional kind of guy who then becomes an empty vessel with no emotion or real relationship with his kids because he feels so alienated from his own family and he resorts to just becoming a provider. Sometimes we forget the sacrifices our fathers have made for us because of what they have done to our mothers. We only remember to buy an outfit for mom and dad is always an after thought with a tie or a pair of socks because of the sins he has committed while we were growing up. To be honest I have never been aware of the plight of the father until I heard one speak. Its as if I never expect men to have emotion about these things. Most times we feel they deserve it but wow, what a punishment. We have to allow fathers to be close to their children no matter how horrible we feel they are as partners because no matter how much we feel we are good mothers, we can never replace and fulfill a fathers role. And the funny part is that our sons are perpetuating their fathers’ behaviors that they grew up loathing because they cant go up to their father and talk about manhood and their mistakes openly with them as they experience it so that they can learn from it because they are so distant from their dads…. and our girls become the wives and the cycle continues for eternity.
I have had a lot of father figures in my life who have not been the best partners but have loved their kids. They made mistakes that they cant take back because they are late now but the older I get, I appreciate them more and I wish I could have shown it more when they were still alive. It affects the way I look at my ex husbands’ relationship with our daughter and all I want is to foster and encourage a good relationship between them.
I’m looking at my biological fathers picture and my step dads picture above and its clear my mom had a thing for afros…lol
Sometime back was my late step dads birthday and something weird happened. Before I get into the weird events let me give you a quick background. This is not meant to be sad, so don’t be. Its meant to celebrate dads 🙂 . The top left picture is a picture of my biological father and my little sister. He is late now and I didn’t have much of a relationship with him. He separated with my mom when I was a baby and remarried 2 more times after…officially that we know of lol. He apparently had a sweet tongue and handsome as hell which was a deadly combination for any man. I only remember seeing him 3 times my whole life. I’m sure I saw him more times but my brain only remembers 3 and the last memory I have of him , is of him kneeling while hugging me, apologizing and crying and me standing there like a statue, not sure what to say or do. I think I was 8, im not sure…but I was really young. The top middle black and white is a picture of my grandmother and my late grandfather, my mothers parents. I heard from “rumour” that when my mother got pregnant with me, her dad did not speak to her the entire pregnancy. Then of-course I must have melted his heart the moment I was born and he became an instant father figure in my life. He would let my mom take groceries on account at his friends store to make sure we had what we needed. He insisted on taking care of me as the main guardian. I lived with him even as a widower until the day he had an accident which left him sick and incapacitated and eventually led to his death. We had a money song that we would sing together that we composed and weirdly enough, my breakthrough in business was with an institution that he worked for for years before he died. Sometimes I wonder if he had anything to do with that breakthrough.
Then the picture on the top right is one of my sister and my late step dad, the man who raised me. We fought a lot in my teenage years, I definitely didn’t make it easy for him. I always admired the way he was one of those dads who were accessible emotionally to my siblings. I remember him and my sister swaying from side to side, closing their eyes and singing “True Colours” and my brother and I laughing while watching them. He loved the song. When he died, it was sudden, found dead by my mother and sister. And the thing that rose suspicion was that my sister had sent him a message and he hadn’t responded which was unlike him. He was the kind of dad that would reply. The last conversation I had with him, he called me “My Simomotswane.” He said “…I miss my Simomotswane” which was a nickname my mom used when I was young to show endearment. When he called me that, I thought he was drunk because him and I were never really openly emotional toward each other…unless we were screaming at each other of course. We cared but we just never expressed it often. To me he wasn’t the emotional dad, he was the cool step dad. The one who allowed me to drink and would insist that when I go partying I tell him so that he picks me up or sends a cab so that I wouldn’t have to be driven home by a drunk boy. Little did I know that sign of endearment was a goodbye. The week before his death, I kept telling people around me I kept feeling like checking up on him but I never did for some reason. And when my sister called me to tell me the news, like a lunatic, I tried to call him hoping he would answer 1 last time so I could say everything iv ever wanted to say to him. The phone rang and rang and rang…he did not answer. It was too late.
His death was the worst thing I have ever experienced. When life got tough id drive somewhere and sit in solitude and pray and cry and pray and cry with the car radio playing in the background to drown the sound of my own weeping. One day on one of my pray crying sessions on a Sunday morning, the DJ on radio that day played “True colors” his favorite song. This happened to me at least 3 times after his death and I don’t believe that it was a coincidence especially considering the lyrics to the song. It would be what id be needing to hear in that moment. My step father was not the best husband to my mother but im yet to see a man with as much love as the love he had for his children. So on his birthday, about a month ago, more than 6years after his death… around 7pm or so, my sister apps on our group chat that she found a white feather on her bed and she thought it was from dad. So my brother says its probably from your pillow and my sister says, nah…I don’t have any bedding made of feathers, I know its him. I respond saying I always tell my daughter Ava that when we see feathers that they are from angels, even though I made that up, I believe my lie lol. So ofcourse I also thought the feather was from dad… and I kid you not, my daughter who was bathing in a different room…in the same moment we are having this conversation on app…oblivious of what im typing on app, shouts out randomly that when she was playing with her friend, a bird died. So im like “guys, you wont believe what Ava just said. She said a bird died when she was playing today, just as we are having this conversation.” That was weird to say the least. So anyway time passes and we are off app then my brother sends a pic on the group hours later. By the way, my sister at that time was in UK and my brother on a trip in Italy, and im in Zim…so we were all in different countries….And you will not believe what the picture he sent was. It was a white feather on the floor!!!! He was about to put away his shoes and saw a white feather and ofcourse we are like WTF… no way!!!! Apa my brother was the doubting Thomas earlier on but this left him speechless. So in that moment, I ask my daughter why she told me about the bird then she says,” I just thought you should know. Its sad right, but the bird will have a new life…” and she turns away and continues watching youtube with absolutely no clue of what a profound thing she had just said… as young as she is. So I do a laugh cry laugh cry in disbelief of the days’ events…grateful of the love we all could feel from him even after his death.
The bird will have a new life…wow.
The other pictures are of the feathers my brother and sister found.
God bless all dads, the perfect and imperfect ones.
I’m a girl who believes in magic and wander. Most of those close to me feel my way of thinking is a little odd. But from the time I was a little girl, nature spoke to me. Even though I knew Pinocchio was a made up character in a cartoon, I believed that trees could speak. I just stopped telling people that when I realized they started looking at me funny. Part of this imagination I blame my mother. Once she told me they would climb mountains to collect clouds to eat. I was sold by the excitement of the possibilities in nature. Before you dismiss me as high on some strong ass ganja, hear me out.
Writing poetry especially, has been such a great teacher to me. The poetry I write is inspired mostly by experience, stillness and nature. Every time I write a poem inspired by that, it is so beautiful even to me the writer, it takes my breath away each time because of the power of wisdom it holds. My spiritual side vibrates with nature. I can look at a tree and be amazed at how it can be so majestic in its stillness…without doing a single thing visible to the eye. To me trees are the ultimate example of faith. Can you imagine knowing things will always be ok even when you sit still… knowing who you are. Not still in action, but still in an unwavering faith that all is well and you can be majestic by being rooted in your core, no matter what storms in life await you. I have recently been fascinated by Safaris…watching how animals live…finding out how they survive. Every time I learn more about the wild, my heart beats so fast and often times I feel so overwhelmed by the experience and sensations of familiarity in how their own existence mirrors our own…exhilaration in being with the wild and free yet also in a perfectly organized ecosystem…kinda like life. Everything seems so random but being the poet I am, I spot the common patterns that rhyme to the beat of life and realize that when dots are connected, there is nothing random about life. The last safari I went to, I learnt that a lions’ hunting skills are weakened in captivity. If you put them straight into the wild without slowly incorporating them back, they will not survive. They die. And when feeding them, you have to feed them maybe once a week to match the frequency they would probably eat once they go back into the wild otherwise feeding them too much is as good as tearing apart who they are meant to be…wild. The greatest hunters, whether animal or human…are those with the greatest ability to watch, read and understand nature… in the harsh presence of nature.
The wilderness has tough lessons. Its survival of the fittest. The weaker you are, the higher chances there are for you to die. The more challenges you can adapt to, the stronger you get. Now tell me if I’m crazy but are these not valuable life lessons. I learnt about prairie seeds while writing a poem dedicated to my mother, inspired by a time lapse of a blooming flower, and I learnt that they have to undergo harsh conditions for them to crack open and germinate. They literally have to be burnt in order to live, survive and grow. In my 34years of life, one thing iv learnt without a shadow of doubt is that challenges and hard times literally build character…you are cut from a different cloth especially when you survive them. Without them we cant grow…we cant learn and we cant evolve. The most influential people in the world have overcome gruesome adversity. Once you can withstand the heat of the moment and pass the phase, the person you become is unstoppable.
I could go on and on about the wisdom I see in nature but I think you get my point. In as advance as we are as human beings, we are petty compared to the technology in nature. If only we are aware of it… watch it and learn. It would have shown us how to survive in life, way before we have to learn and experience the lesson ourselves. The answers are all around us…in nature and in as much as we see ourselves as superior to it, we are part of it…made from the same DNA. The more we feel we have nothing to learn from it, the more we have to endure the pain of learning lessons and things that we already have a manual to. This post was inspired by a documentary I just watched by David Attenborough: A life on our planet. I couldn’t sleep afterwards. It bothered me so much. It is definitely worth watching. I was appalled by how we have…I have become so greedy as a human being. A greed that is slowly killing us as much as its killing the rest of the planet. I would be the first one to admit that in as much as I profess a love for nature, I have quickly dismissed how close to home the plight of the dismal destruction of nature is to me. Global warming always seems like a distant problem and not to sound racist, the fight for rainforests and animals’ extinction sounded like a white peoples’ problem…definitely a racists shallow notion. Watching that documentary was tear jerking for me and I know I have to start making better choices. Sometimes I wonder if this Covid 19 pandemic is mother natures’ way of reminding us how we are so interconnected as a world, how small we really are and have no control over everything, how we have abused our power and how something that affects animals has the power to wipe us out as a species. How if we are not careful, we can be extinct like the dinosaurs that were causing mass destruction to the world and we the modern day dinosaur may cause mother nature to choose to save the earth from the most destructive species there is to the rest, human beings… due to our over indulgence, indifference and greed. Our entire species is in danger and…ignorant us, thinks its the poor animals that have got it bad.
After i turned 12ish, it was becoming increasingly difficult to hang out with my family which comprised of my parents and my siblings Daphne and Nigel. I have to name these 2 because all of a sudden they are salalas now. Go figure. Talk about wrong timing. When i needed them to be salalas, they were not there for me. Family time at home in the safety of 4 walls and closed doors was okay…i didn’t have to be embarrassed about anything. The problem was when we had to spend time outside the home…at their chosen family time hangout spots…majority ruled. While other young hip cool families went to Pizza Inn, Chicken Inn, Creamy Inn on a Sunday afternoon, mine would go to Mereki. I was traumatized. Yes, Gen Zs, hanging out at Pizza Inn was VERY cool back in the day. I would always lose the vote, with my clueless siblings excited about eating loads of meat on the boot of the car…a buffet of sizzling pork, beef and sausages with sadza, onions, tomato and cucumber vs 1 or 2 pieces of chicken and chips. I would eat my food while hiding in the car, pretending to be listening to James Maridhadhi on Radio 3…my favorite station then…least im seen by someone from school or my crush. There was this bottle store in Waterfalls that my dad liked going to with us that had braai outside…well i think it was considered Waterfalls or i convinced myself in my trauma that thats were Waterfalls was. It was very popular, i am forgetting the name…along Beatrice Road…and all i knew was that my crush lived in Waterfalls and i wasn’t taking any chances. They didn’t understand that the stakes were high. I was a salad!!!
You couldn’t over do the salad thing without looking like a fool. There was a very thin line between looking cool and wack. You had to make it look effortless…kinda like when “they” take a picture with a caption that says “Im basic…”on social media just because they have a white t shirt and sneakers on…BUT with a Prada bag on their shoulder. You see…there was the real salalas who understood the game well. Rich kids…from maDale dale…who travelled a lot, had access to the global world and had a genuine fancy accent. They didnt even try…they just were. Then there was the wanna be salalas, who looked and sounded genuine enough. These were usually coached by their real salala friends and copied their habits well. They had an accent as well, but this accent would come and go depending on how emotionally stable they are in that moment. Anger would generally force the ghetto in them out in the light. These also had a high chance to act a fool kumusha and all of a sudden refuse to eat things they grew up eating like chicken feet or maguru. I think i belonged to that group, until i went to mission school and was diluted by being forced to beat buckets while upside down like drums for entertainment in order to create a beat to dance to in the middle of the hostel. To my defence, we were not allowed radios. After experiencing mission school, it was very rare not to have gone at least 1 rating down on the salala scale. Wack and “gwash” things happened there and it was usually out of your control. I remember at sports galas, private school kids would look at us funny. We brought drums…ngoma…as our source of creating cheerleading beats and we were dang good on them. One girl could do the dhiwali beat on them. Drums in whatever form were our go to musical instrument while they learnt “do re mi” on a piano. I guess we might have tried too hard to fit in with them or maybe not to fit in with them. We were definitely worlds apart. We disliked them for it but also wished we were like them. There was a sense of inadequacy you felt while standing next to a “real” salala. Then there was the salala wanna bes who wore sweat bands on their heads in a kombi on their way to Eastgate, sometimes in groups of 2 to 5. They would either match outfits completely or wore similar colors like a bunch of strawberries. These were usually loud colors like red,yellow, lime, green, bright blue, orange…some would have bandanas…and the cherry on top for the outfit would be the white towel on their shoulder and white sneakers on their feet. I’m not sure if they were aware that the musicians they were copying had those towels to remove sweat during a performance. I guess they were in their own right, “performing” in the streets. Then there were the hopeless salala wanna BEs…those you had to convince that the famous singing group was One Twelve (112)…not One Hundred and Twelve. Those had no chance on making it but were nonetheless very vocal and argumentative about their misguided information.
Being as close as possible to being a salala was like a badge of honour…for teenagers. Song books were so cool. The more international songs you knew the cooler you were. The more pictures of celebrities you had in your song book the cooler you were. Right around 12 is when i stopped dancing to Chimbambaira Chiri Mupoto …a song i absolutely loved wriggling to…i had to give it up. I had to. The title itself was a such a sell out on who you were deeep deeeep deeeeep down. There was no way i could tell my friends that Chimbambaira chiri mupoto was my favourite song. It would expose me. During the holidays, id sit close to the radio and carry the radio to my room at night waiting for particular songs for me to “dub”. Id put a tape in the radio and once the song came on, id press record. The next day id rewind my tape with a pen and knew right were to stop, exactly were the song began. My connection with cassettes was insane. I knew the ribbon on my cassettes so well. I would play it enough to catch a few lines then quickly write them down in my song book. Then repeat the process over and over again. I did this ritual with an admirable tenacity and passion for hours on end.
Then…like the world was coming to an end… they dropped the news on us the Salala Nation that there was a law in Zimbabwe banning international music on radio in order to support local artists. It was the worst thing that happened to my salala life. It was the death of it. I was crushed. Where was i going to get reference from in order to stay relevant in my salala lifestyle!!! However with time i got used to these new songs…reluctantly. Like a miracle when ExQ released “Ndiri Musalala”, being a salad now seemed ridiculous in the way he was describing it in the song…i saw my stupid self through a flash of wise relevation…it was no longer cool anymore…Urban grooves made it cooler to be in the middle…a salad but not a salad. Just right!!
Well except for Major Players…those were salalas and we all know which ones 🙊😂
I was raised by a troop of women. All these women had one thing in common… my mother. They were either my mothers’ friends, her mom when she was still alive…..her sisters…cousins…her varooras… her something. My mom left for the UK when i was 15. We missed her terribly but her influence was still felt, even thousands of miles away. She was the resident ghost. You couldn’t see her but you could feel she was there. Its like she recruited a team to watch over us and most importantly, spy on us. She ran the household still with the help of a loyal maid who told her every single thing…everything!!! She recruited her best friend as our “boss” who made executive decisions on her behalf (thats the aunt who said no to AU) and she also had her spy in the neighborhood, Mai Madhafela, who would seem to be at every corner i went with any boy. All the boys who would come to see me would have to scan the road to make sure they had a safe route for us to walk, away from Mai Madhafelas prying eyes.
It seems every Zimbo mom has varying levels of crazy in them. Some have more crazy than others in them but they all have a few screws loose. I may have to suffer dearly for this post. I remember one night my step dad had all too much to drink and in the morning my mom was laughing and gossiping with the maid about his drunken state the previous night and it looked safe for me to chime in and laugh with them. A few minutes later, our neighbor at the flats in Glen Norah came in for some gossip. She had most likely heard something and i… still feeling very free and safe to express myself, filled her in on the scoop while laughing hysterically, oblivious of my mothers’ piercing “eye”. Only when i noticed my mother wasn’t joining in the conversation did i feel a pit in my stomach and i slowly braved to look at her face. And there it was, her deathly ” Im going to whoop you” stare. This eye exchange probably happened in a split of a second, without the neighbor noticing, and i immediately stopped talking and retreated for dear life. I thought we were laughing together, how did it change so quickly? I was confused. As soon as the neighbor left, she came looking for me and said sternly to me with a finger pointing at my forehead, “Unofarisa…” and she left. Still confused about what had just happened, i walked away, damaged for life…losing trust in my abilities to read other peoples cues loool. I was just relived i didn’t get a hiding. I just seemed to constantly get into trouble for everything, including things i didn’t do….like when the farting ghost came and did its thing while visitors were there. If she sniffed anything, it didn’t matter that it could potentially be her visitor who let out some air…i would be scolded, chased out of the room because adults just don’t fart. I knew better to just walk out silently and not be tempted to utter the deadly words that could send me to my grave, “It wasn’t me.”
Growing up my mother thought she was funny and cool. She still thinks she is. To her credit, i do think shes one of the coolest moms out there. It just goes left and weird when she starts to use slang or pop culture lingo. She recently used the word “fam” which left me and my siblings shaking our heads. She seems to hear a word and forcibly place it where she thinks it belongs just to fit in the group with her 3 young cool children. She has tried numerous times when i was a teenager to make me wear her “cool” clothes from when SHE was a teenager, which made me question her fashion sense. She also had a truckload of Muzenda jokes that she told daily and repeated frequently and expected you to have the same passionate laugh every single time you heard them. As the responsible caring first born child i was, i tried to make her happy and force out a laugh every single time especially at “The phone went greeeeeen greeeeen, i pinked it up and said yellooow….”
As i get older and see how my own relationship with my daughter evolves, i see myself turn into my mother. I see my daughters’ head shakes of disapproval and now shes old enough to whisper, “Mom stop embarrassing me.” Then like an evil spirit, i want to embarrass her even more. I then understand what its like to be a crazy mom who is passionate about her kids and would do anything to see them happy and smile. I do hope i will be half as good a mom to Ava as my mom is to me and my siblings…except for the fact that she tells us all in private, that we are her favorite child. This is how sibling rivalry begins mom!!!
Happy birthday maDube. We love you and yes, you are the best mom in the world.
The night my friend Vinny died, my boyfriend had been shamelessly flirting with my best friends’ cousin at a party we had gone to. Vinny was like a big brother to me and we lived in the same hood. I was 18 and Vinny must have been in his early 20s. Being so young and lacking self esteem, i watched quietly as my boyfriend embarrassed me with the b@&#%. Yes, im still bitter about it. Vinny noticing my annoyance, took my hand and said, “Lets go for a walk.”” How can you allow him to do that to you!!!”, he scolded me.He told me off for putting up with such behaviour from a boyfriend. That was one of the lifetime worth of advise he left with me that night…his way of saying goodbye. We continued to walk outside for what seemed like hours, with him lecturing me and advising me about life and guys. He had been studying UNISA and asked me what my next plan was. I was straight from high school. I told him i wanted to do UNISA as well and he said he regretted never experiencing university life and that he felt he grew up so fast with having to work and study at the same time. He advised me to go to an actual university and enjoy the experience. A few hours later, i watched Vinny die in the middle of 2nd St Extension, after the car we were in rolled 5 times. He is the reason why i ended up going to the University of Zimbabwe.
Honestly i would have preferred to go to Africa University instead back then because it was way cooler. That was where all the cool and rich kids went back in the day but my aunt was adamant about it and said AU did not have the best education which was just a misconception. UZ was known for the unruly but intelligent kids. It had a reputation for quality education and only took the “cream of the cream” but there were always strikes and students were in the forefront of politics in the Mugabe era. There were stories of hunger and chaos concerning UZ. I remember how we used to hate using official gates to exit the premises and we used the holes in fences created for emergencies and survival in case of times when there were demonstrations. There was extreme hunger at UZ with girls there being called USAs for a reason. It was an abbreviation for “unable to survive alone.” Some girls had sugar daddies who catered for their needs and those with sugar daddies would have a troop of friends who tagged along for freebies like pizza and drinks at the club. The entire time i stayed on campus at UZ i never ate from the dinning hall. I was one of the lucky few whose parents could afford to pay for a whole term’s worth of food at the supermarket, which more often than not i shared with my friends. So essentially it didn’t matter if you had enough because most times you’d have friends who needed help and we survived better as a team . Accommodation was also a problem and those without accommodation would live “illegally” with a friend on school premises and those were called “squatters”. I have great respect for those who went to UZ and especially lived on campus because life was like going to war each day…it was all about survival and surviving “smart.” You didn’t want to end up falling pregnant or making mistakes that could scar you forever because that place had the potential to make or break you. If you could survive UZ, you can survive ANYTHING in life lol.
In as much as it sounds like a horror story, im so grateful Vinny took me for a walk that night because i would never change my experiences at UZ for anything in the world. It was arguably one of the best times of my life. With all the survival tactics we had to get up to, i had an absolutely smashing time. This is where i truly fell in love for the first time and where i had my first heart break and also where i crushed a lot of hearts. It is where i learnt to drink, party in the club, copy… i mean study for tests and where i learnt to like sadza negoch goch. Before then, sadza was not “cool”. This is where i learnt the value of true friendship and enjoying the simplest of things in life like bunking lectures for walks to Groombridge Spar for some sadza and chicken stew before it became the fancy shop it is now. Romance for me at UZ was my boyfriend sharing his rice and chicken with me after his visit home. When we would fight, he’d make it up by giving me a packet of noodles and if he was very very very sorry, he’d throw in a whole bottle of 1 liter of coca cola, my favourite lol.
I came from a single sexed high school but we knew a couple of guys from other single sexed schools that we dated and hung out with. So one day, we decided to gate crush the Angolian Embassy for some free beer and free food. Rumor had it that they were celebrating their independence day that night. We decided to dress up for the event and pretend to be guests. Unfortunately our idea of dressing up at 19 or 20 was clubbing clothes…skinky tops, tight jeans, mini skirts, dropped jeans… so for a formal event, we stood out like a sore thumb. Nevertheless, they were gracious enough not to throw us out at first sight. We joined the buffet, ate like starving rats and guzzled as much liquor as we could. The guy i was dating at the time had very low alcohol tolerance so in no time he was sloshed. He began talking loudly and laughing that there were gate-crushers at the party. He took it upon himself to go to a guard to tell on us that we were gate crushers. In his drunken state he thought it was hilarious as he continued to laugh and point at us. We tried to hide from him in the crowd and him enjoying the game, would fish for us, find us, laugh and point at us some more until the guards threw us out…him included. He made up for that night to me with a box of cerevita and powdered milk, what a lucky girl i was.
My cousins have said they think i smoke weed when i write. I assume its the long serious stuff i write about they were referring to because i can go quite deep and get lost in the unraveling of a stream of consciousness. I have asked myself numerous times what the meaning to life is and i have not found a concrete answer to that. When i was younger the answer would be sure, but that’s because my experience to life was still masked by naivety and inexperience…maybe it still is. At times life had meaning because of an amazing lover…until they pissed me off…the other times life had meaning because of my dreams for the future until i realized how much those dreams evolve and change …the other times it was tied to success until i realized how that can’t fulfill me on a soul level…same as a beautiful loving family and friends. Everything can be perfect and you could still feel empty… the other times it had meaning because of all the causes i believed in and the good i wanted to do in the world and my desire to do something grand and change the world, until i realized the world could not be changed…good and evil need each other to exist and there is a thin line to being good or evil, it just depends on which side you are standing on…which view you have and both attributes are really the same. Everyone evil has a strong belief that what they are doing is good. They essentially are doing what they believe is right to them. I expected all these wonderful things to be stagnant and enough but they all happened in moments and seasons and changed. Nothing could be captured and held still enough to fulfill me. Everything that i thought could provide meaning to my life that was external to myself fell short until i realized nobody and nothing could fulfill me…enrich me yes, but not fulfill me.
When I realized this, i felt a scary void in me grow. What made it worse was that i also cared too much about what people thought of me. So a combination of emptiness , a relentless chase to finding lasting fulfillment and on top of it, people pleasing, led to a poisoned chalice of anxiety and depression. Trying to find fulfillment and meaning outside yourself is suicide, its chasing shadows of dreams that you will never grasp in your hands but rather will find yourself lacking more and more of… You will deplete each time you look because each time it slips through your fingers. The more i looked outside, the void grew and felt more and more impossible to fill. I felt so lost and that question danced and entangled with my identity…who i thought i was. If i could not find meaning to life, it was hard for me to know who i was. And the fact that i cared too much about peoples’ stamps on my forehead, i could never be my true self or even try to find out. I had to fit myself in a mold i felt was acceptable to whoever i was trying to please at that time.
We lose so many lives daily to this void. I have seen friends with palatable voids deteriorate to nothingness and give up on life. If not in suicide, it would be their lives slowly dissolving right before my eyes, with a resolution that all was in vain and the next thing they died in their sleep, or died due to some simple illness that they could have overcame…but because their spirits died before their bodies did, they had nothing else to live for, nothing to fight for. The attachment to finding meaning and failing to find it killed them.
I was lucky in the sense that i found my own path. I had to create it because i knew if i didn’t , i would surely die. And that path came with a different choice, to look within. I looked at the void as a signal and not a problem. My void became my friend and my inner compass. I have an understanding that my life is a continuous yearning and that’s all the void is, a yearning to feel ALIVE. I am meant to feel the void so that i can chase worthy moments not fill it with unhealthy things because im scared of it. We tend to be scared of things we do not understand but i believe most of us are born with a void. Some of us are unaware of it and become so good at numbing it and filling it with drugs, fame, power, work, sex, social stature, gossip, food, even blind religion because it makes us feel like we are not lost…like we belong. I think an awareness of this void is important and consciousness will then help us in how we can use it to fuel us not drain us. Thats really the difference in how we experience the world. Placing too much expectation on others for our happiness causes pain, disappointment and toxic relationships. But understanding that our happiness and fulfillment is in how we chase life and take responsibility for it, this frees us. Some become great through this realization and some are drained by it and drain others as well. I try to live for the magic and pleasures of amazing moments, yet i now understand those moments do not belong to me, they are fleeting and its OK. I do not feel the need to know the grand meaning to my life. That is the wander and mystery of life…experiencing and releasing both pleasures and pain with no attachment to them. When these pleasures and cherished moments come my way, even the pain, i sink my teeth in them, knowing they are passing and learning what i can from them. I experience them, let them go and wait for a brand new unique moment. I deliberately chase the feeling of being ALIVE because life is too fleeting to be worrying about what it means. What if its the experience of the wind blowing on your face and that pretty passing butterfly in your journey that matter most rather than your destination?
Are you aware of your void?
What does life mean to you?
Who are you when no one calls you by your title or name? When you lay on your pillow at night?
Around the first time I went to America, it was quite an auspicious occasion especially when European and American Visas then needed all the gods to intercede in order to get one. It generally was an extreme sport going to the diaspora because most had no idea if they would ever see their loved ones again or how many years, decades would pass before seeing them. I vividly remember the day my step father went to the UK. He had a convoy of relatives take him to the airport, it was a spectacle. When we got to the airport, to my delight, he emptied his pockets and gave me all the money he had, quickly gave me a hug and said goodbye. Only later did it dawn on me that i was now alone, my entire family was gone. I was to be left in the company of his sister until I could get my own apartment closer to the university I was attending… preferably a flat in town. I was the only one in my family to be denied a visa. I was now legally considered an “adult”, able to fend for herself as I had just turned 18, with no knowledge on how to do that apart from the skills I had acquired from boarding school and the practice with chores at home. That time was also the last time I would see my step dad alive. The next time I saw the man I had called dad all my life, almost 10 years later, was in a small brown wooden coffin used to fly his body back home to be buried. By then I had just started “tasting” the responsibilities of adult life when he passed and had only bought him so far,a leather jacket and a bottle of whiskey to thank him for raising me. My next thank you as the first born was to make sure my brother and my sister whom he dearly loved, could fly back home to attend his funeral. All children wish to buy their parents a home at least to show their gratitude for their sacrifices but it wouldn’t be the case for us. But then again, that was the way of life for most Zimbabwean families…survival… tragedy…family separation.
Sadly… it was “normal.”
I too in my moment of departure had a convoy of relatives and friends taking me to the airport. As I walked away to board my plane, my aunts started singing a Sutu song. I’m sure it had some sort of goodbye or protection meaning. Sutu is the one language that never stuck while growing up. I learnt Ndebele and Shona but not Sutu, yet it is my mother’s tongue. As I walked slowly to my theme kumbaya song,tears rolled down my face not sure what I was to face ahead of me. I didn’t really pay attention to the fact that my aunts were embarrassing me in front of all the travelers that day. I’m sure the entire airport knew it was the first time for me to fly overseas. Days before my departure I had given away most of my clothes and left a few since America was the land of “milk and honey.” Clothes were apparently so cheap over there, you could literally pick them off the streets they said. People also threw away TVs and couches too, something that was amazing to me since some Zimbabwean homes considered TVs expensive and an unnecessary luxury. I studied carefully the American way of dressing on Channel O, a popular African music channel, and decided the outfit befitting of my grand entrance to this glorified country was a pair of very tight skinny jeans and a fancy denim waist clincher that sucked my stomach in and extremely high long boots…. all of which were suicide for a long plane ride especially to the heart of Texas during the peak of Summer time. How could I have known?
One of the stops was to be at the large Heathrow Airport and my entire family including extended family with aunts and cousins would be there waiting to see me. We had been told I could just go to immigration without a UK visa, show them my boarding pass to the USA and ask them to see my family while I waited for my plane. But alas, I was in shock when the immigration officer told me that’s not how it works. I needed a visa just to say hie…imagine!!! My young innocent mind didn’t understand why they had to be so cruel. I put on my saddest puppy face and begged him to let me see my family but he said no, with a stern face with no ounce of pity in his eyes. Didn’t he understand that it had been at least 3 years since I’d seen my siblings and step dad AND at least 2 years since I’d seen my mother? Thank God she had visited a few years back otherwise it would have been 9 years since seeing her. All he saw I’m sure, was a potential crazy illegal immigrant trying to smuggle herself in plain sight into the Great Britain. Disappointed, I walked away with tears in my eyes and called my family on a phone in the boarding area. Everyone was cheerful non the less and just grateful I had escaped the harshest part of 2008 in Zimbabwe. I wobbled with my high heels through the horrendously large Heathrow airport with my feet burning like they were cooking on hot coal while I wondered why no one had been kind enough to tell me to wear flats… a lesson I learnt at least the 2nd time flying. I had forgotten my first lesson so quickly. The second time would be my first visit back home… Zimbabwe. But of course I had to look like a superstar at all costs and flats would ruin the plan. I knew I would have a crew waiting at the airport to see the new “Americano” and i had a matching accent to suit my new identity. It would be my reveal day after a few years worth of a make over!
How did it feel leaving your country for the very first time?
My life as a young child was like one of a tourist…full of excitement, wander and new places. If you asked me where I grew up, I would have a list of towns and cities to tell you about. I remember at some point between the ages of 4 and 6 I lived in Beitbridge with a thousand other cousins plus my grandparents…my mother’s parents. Ok, a thousand is an exaggeration but it felt like that especially when it came to eating time. We all ate, the thousand of us, from 3 big bowls of food. One would have sadza, the other collard greens and the last with meat. Being one of the youngest, I would have to be satisfied with the 3rd smallest piece of meat. The rule was you eat the sadza and vegetables first then lastly a piece of meat, picked from the oldest to the youngest. Meat was like our dessert. After a quick sadza and veggy gulping, you could nicely relax, stretch your legs and slowly savour your designated chunk of meat. You also had to learn the art of eating quickly otherwise you would sleep hungry. We were taught at a young age a practical lesson on how survival of the fittest works. Till this day I’m one of the fastest eaters I know…as pretty as I am.
The worst challenge was during breakfast or 4pm tea time featuring sweet sugary tea with milk and bread with delicious red sun jam. The problem was the “butt” of the bread…you know, the end part…the crust. Everyone wanted it. I’m not sure why there was so much fascination for it because I don’t eat it now. Maybe it was thicker or the mere fact of its limited slices in a loaf brought the law of scarcity to its full effect. The fights would start, a lot of crying and name calling…big head…big eyes…big nose…and the insults would go on and on until the baddest and toughest would be the last man standing and win or an adult intervenes and takes the butt for themselves. I don’t remember having rules for the butt of bread like we did for the meat so tea time would be messy business and quite chaotic. The other problem for being one of the youngest was bathing time. I honestly can’t recall how many we were, we should have been more than 7 but somehow we all fit in one regular tub. The adults would insist on us bathing at the same time, maybe it was an energy conservation and time management tactic for them and again, like dinner time, the tub had rules. The oldest would be closer to the tapes which was warmer and the youngest at the back. I remember sitting in what seemed very little and cold water at the back. The oldest must have had a vendetta against us the young ones because for the life of me, I don’t not understand why our water was always little and cold. They must have blocked most of the water to themselves such that by the time the water reached the end of the tub, it was the reject and most poorest quality of water we would get.
We had a grumpy great grandmother whom we “lovingly” called gogo Mathanyela. I think it was because she would aim brooms at us whenever she was upset. I cant blame her because our favorite past time was irritating her the entire day. Gogo Mathanyela according to adults could not walk but us kids knew better. So gogo would sit in a corner or convenient place all day…basking the warmth of the sun…enjoying the shade of the trees, whatever tickled her fancy that day…peeling groundnuts…doing anything that made her look busy. So because we were told she couldn’t walk we would go to poke at her and make faces at her, one at a time or the lot of us would attack her all at the same time. So to wade us off she would throw a broom at us…those African brooms made from grass. For those repeatedly stupid ones who would go closer, she would pretend to be sleeping or not paying attention and the curious brood would be caught, swiftly placed on her laps bums up and she would spank the living shit out of them. That act we would call it “Bhaaaa ncwwiiiii…” because shed clap your bum then pinch it and repeat the process numerous times until they could escape. So one day, we were playing in a thatched hut and gogo was in there sleeping enjoying her afternoon siesta. One thing led to another and we ended up lighting up a few straws on the thatch and to our shock and amusement, the hut began to burn. Gogo Mathanyela woke up in shock and all of a sudden, like a miracle, stood up and ran for dear life. This is when we discovered the woman could walk but of course no adult believed us neither could we explain how we knew least we confessed to a crime of arson.