Translations on the end
AFRICA THE MOTHERLAND OF ZIMBABWE
‘Every birth introduces pain, women know this. Skipping pain is killing the infant. True mothers have accepted this stage to allow their children to live.’
‘Africa gave that chance to Zimbabwe, who came out rapped in thick blood. The blood of her forefathers. She grew in the independence inherited from her forefathers she never knew. But because their blood flowed in her, Zimbabwe carried on the vision of hope and love for her mother. Africa her motherland. She sought to bring wild berries of love to her mother from her gatherings. And because of this good deed, the world rewarded her with milk and honey.’
My grandmother told me of what Zimbabwe was like back then. I cannot fathom how things have changed. ‘Are you sure we are independent grandma?’ I would ask.
‘Shhh muromo iwoyo hautaurwi mwanangu.’ And my grandfather would say continuously with his friends holding his fist up high, ‘Pamberi!’ ‘Pamberi?’ I would ask. It was disturbing. I had a totally different story to forward to my future grandchildren.
‘Town here mudhara?
Togera here musoro?
Toruka here vasikana?
Screen guard phone yese dollar
Dollar bra dollar socks zvese zviripo
Munoda kubatsirwa nei?
Tokupai here muriwo?
Munotsvaka size ani bhudhi?
Airtime yese tokupai here…?’
I walked past them all, like any other citizen would. Adamantly looking forward and fixing my eyes on the path ahead of me. Another man had several sweets placed on his cardboard box in the street and because I was hungry I turned my eyes to salivate. ‘Dollar for 40 ma mints, tokupai mangani mhamha?’ Immediately I looked away, to avoid further soliciting.
The voices of the vendors and touts came like a flood of offer that it was difficult to ignore. I wanted to buy the food, but not from the lady selling it on a newspaper in the street. I wanted to purchase the clothes, but not from a boy hanging shoes and jackets on top of the car. However part of me also wanted I to swallow up my pride and help the vendors and touts to improve their lives, but it so happened that the responsible authorities did it before I could do so, only militarizing their methods.
It was in the wee hours of the evening when most people were leaving work and rushing to their respective homes. I continued to walk along Jason Moyo towards the fourth street, bumping and pressing into people whose eyes also remained fixed upon their paths; avoiding further attention from the vendors and kombi operators. As if the shouting of the sellers, the shuffling of pedestrian’s feet, the exchanging of their shoulders and the noises of hoods was not enough, the sellers began to scream.
The crowded street began to move faster as faces were more terrified than desperate, the atmosphere became more anxious and the noise became louder. I … I was very confused. All vendors hastily picked up their products from cardboard boxes and sprinted to alleys to hide. The commotion resulted in deformed several packages as vegetables fell to the ground and clothes mopped the sewer pavements as they ran, as if for their lives. Touts quickly scrolled up their kombi windows as drivers started their shuttles and picked up speeds, with other touts jumping and clinging onto the back of the shuttles.
One careless driver revved the engine and set a horrifying alarm to a woman who had just grabbed her cardboard box of tomatoes to escape with her livelihood to an alley. It all happened in front of my eyes when the car sped into her direction, with the driver looking away from the path ahead of him and fixing his eyes at the commotion outside his window. The only time she had was to scream in terror as the shuttle drove straight into her thighs. At the instant of the collision as the vehicle made impact with her thighs, her feet made friction with the ground and as she flew into half of the sky her tomatoes flew to the rest and she slammed onto the tarred road, with her tomatoes smashing rhythmically; living her with odds of survival. I stood there, eyes naked with horror, mouth dry with empathy, hands and knees frozen. But that was only a part of the story.
In that moment, I saw the riot’s vehicles arriving in very high speeds and before the drivers stopped, several men jumped out of the white trucks wearing blue uniforms with helmets, shields and holding button sticks. They rushed towards the commotion and ruthlessly raised their weapons towards the unarmed illegal business survivors. I saw a woman who was once selling tomatoes leave everything and grab her child to flee calamity. I saw a boy driving off his shuttle from the scene but before he could evade, an armed man rushed to smash his Honda Fit’s glass with his button stick and trapping him. The man who had run over the woman jumped out of his shuttle and abandoned it, leaving the passengers who had paid sitting inside to be harmed with glasses that fell inside the car. I saw the woman who had been run over still lying there, limps deformed, crying out loud, but no one paid attention to her. An armed officer grabbed a vendor’s satchel and the vendor fought for his satchel, pulling it with all his might and risking his dignity, screaming, ‘Ndisiyei, ndisiyei. Munoda kuti vana vangu vagodyei? Ndati ndisiye mhani!!!’ He too was arrested.
I involuntarily conformed to the commotion and ran in the direction the crowd pushed me. Women were screaming, babies were loud, men were running towards their women and children to shield them, and the officials, like a military tank, traumatized what was in their way. People with disabilities were not spared from the deadly chaos. Until when the officers were getting to me did I realize I was caught up in the smoke, so I begged my feet to carry me. Just a few minutes ago I was walking past them, but I was now running past them. Fearing for my life, I pressed my acceleration button and overtook men who were being victimized by police dogs, women carrying their children on their backs and people who had kissed the ground.
In front of me was a child crying alone and without hesitance I grabbed him into my arms and ran as fast as my feet could carry two. I kept running, adamantly looking forward and fixing my eyes on the path ahead of me. Unlike Lot’s wife, I did not look behind. After sometime my legs failed me, but by then I was far away from the scene. I stopped and put the child down. With hands on my knees, and heart beating drums underneath my chest, I cast my eyes where I had come from.
Several people carpeted the street, some dead, some dying and others who probably were going to die. The voices of the people were terrifying to listen to, for it amplified the voices of the remainders. But this was not rupture, it was a community within itself. It was a people of the same race, blood, neighborhood and colleagueship fighting each other. It was Africa battling itself, the king against his kinsman, the employee against the employer, the government against its own people and fathers against sons.
Gravity seduced my tears, and they raced down my cheeks as the sounds began to absorb into thick air. All I could hear was my heartbeat, then eyes closing. In that moment, I heard a silent voice singing a song of anguished despair and soaring resilience ‘The Inquisitive Child’s song’. Only the abortive mothers would squeeze their infants to escape the cry, and that took me to realize that the blood of my forefathers running in me made my story and my grandmothers’ story one.
THE INQUISITIVE CHILD’S SONG
“The fish in the river died
And the river became foul smelling.
There was blood all over
In containers both of wood and of stone.
In houses both of Pharaoh and the peasants
In nations, both of the government and the civilians
In companies both of employee and employer
In races both of the black and the white
In hearts both of strangers and neighbors
In homes, both of fathers and sons.
And now fathers, we have a question for you.
We have asked for a loaf of bread
What you gave us was a bucket of stones
You told us to change them into bread
We did not know how to
Yet we did not starve
Fathers, we have a question for you.
We have asked for fish
What you gave us was serpents
You told us to refuse our God and follow your ways
We feared but remained faithful to our God
Yet we did not die
Our fathers, we have a question for you.
When you refused to give us food, we did not starve, why?
When you abandoned us, we grew up to build happy families, why?
When you paid us less for what we had worked for,
We still saw tomorrow with a smile, why?
Why did we work harder for what we did not have?
When you worked less for what you had already?
Why did you raise dust at us and ignored us,
When we walked several kilometers to school by foot?
Why did we starve, when you could buy food for us?
Why did we drown in rivers, when we could walk on a bridge at your signature?
Why did you know our pains, yet did nothing about them?
Why did we ask for your wisdom, but you shut your wealth from us?
No matter how prodigal we may be,
Fathers we are still your children, we are still your patriotic citizens.
We are still your workers, we are still the youth.
We are the future of tomorrow.
And we need answers from you.
You gamble with unborn lives
Forbidding them to do better than you have.
You over feed your livestock while your workers eat in pigsties.
You strive to fit more wealth were it is already full
When your gardener’s son does not have shoes to walk to school.
You carpet your roads with minerals and spray ornaments in yards
When there are children who cross flooded rivers to school every day.
You have preached Christ by your words
Yet your actions preach sexual mistreat of several women.
You feed your acres of loan with expensive pesticides
When villagers squash on a small land to grow enough for the families.
You discard a table full of precious food and feed to the dogs
When Lazarus has only stones to scrub his leprosy.
You wear shoes you cannot walk in,
You buy cars that cannot save your lives,
You wear clothes that reveal your bodies,
You do all this, so that your enemies will envy you.
Yet like mortal men you die
But the grave of the rich and poor knows no specialty
‘Rest in Peace Beloved’ is what it says to all who see
But only God knows who has more peace than the other.
And it is only He who can give us the answers.”
Muromo iwoyo hautaurwi mwanangu – You shall not speak like that my child
Pamberi – Forward
Town here mudhara – Are you going into town
Wemapete wemakonzo – For the cockroaches for the rats
Togera here musoro – Do you want a haircut
Toruka here vasikana – Do you want a hairdo
Screen guard phone yese dollar – Dollar screen guards for all types of phones
Dollar bra dollar socks zvese zviripo – Dollar for a bra dollar for socks everything is here
Ndinokumbirawo rubatsiro – Please help
Munoda kubatsirwa nei – How can I help you
Tokupai here muriwo – Do you want the vegetables
Munotsvaka size ani bhudhi – What size do you need brother
Airtime yese tokupai here – Do you want airtime
Dollar for 40 ma mints, tokupai mangani mhamha – Dollar for 40 mints, how many do you want
Ndisiyei, ndisiyei. Munoda kuti vana vangu vagodyei? Ndati ndisiye mhani!!! – Let go, let go. How do you want my family to survive? I said leave me alone!!!
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