Thursday, June 11, 2020

my name is grace sibanda

FROG HOSPITAL -- June 12, 2020


This week, brought back by popular demand, we can read the rich and meaningful story of Grace Sibanda, written in her own words. She is the cousin of Precious Mataka, and the grandchild of Mr. Mataka. She works in the hotel industry in Bulawayo, her home. She has a husband and two children. But I'll get out of the way now  and let her tell her story ........

Photo credit: Fred Owens. I took this photo in 1997 when Grace was seven. She is on the front porch of her grandfather's house in Luveve.

my name is grace sibanda

By Grace Sibanda

My name is grace sibanda, I was born 15 may 1990, my parents are simile dick smiley sibanda and cathrine phiri. I stay in nketa 9, bulawayo in Zimbabwe. In my family I am the only girl. I did my primary education at mgiqika primary school, my high school at Maranatha adventist high school which was a private institute. I obtained 8units at primary and at secondary I passed 5 subjects. Tertiary I did my certificate of hotel and catering at metro institute and diploma I did at speciss college where I got 5distinctions in all my subjects. My dad pushed me to where I am today through his encouragement, he always told me that he was not learned but he wants us to excel and be successful busines people.

I love my job fred, I got my diploma in hotel and catering in 2015, lv meeting new people even though it keeps me on my toes all the time.
Am renting nearby my parents place, but we building our dream home at silobela where my husband comes from.

Life was hard for my family during my high school days, the economy in my country had inflated to the highest level, my dad's salary was now peanuts, we could barely make ends meet, at that time they were earning trillion bearer cheques which were useless. What used to happen in those days you would go to the bank and collect your salary but after collecting you find prices have gone up and that money will be useless to buy anything. Prices would go up 3times in a day it totally insanity. But my dad and mum would take loans and pay my fees which were very high since it was a private school. In the morning before school I would eat left over pap and cow heels /vegetables from our previous supper and go to school because I had no lunch money. I would not bother asking my dad because I knew he was also struggling even at work too. Life was so hard my mum had to resort to baking and selling scones, doughnuts and plain buns to help the family.

I loved my grandfather, I adored him, he used to call me nkosikazi wami meaning my wife. Whenever I would visit him he would put me in his lap and tell me he has been busy the whole week planting sweet potatoes and that soon when I visit him he will give me some, and he loved 2 come 2 my home. Whenever he would come my mum would cook him his favourite meal which was chicken and pap and before he would go he would have a cup of tea accompanied with scones, kkk and my dad will give him some money, he would be so grateful to them both, and he would use his chewa language to bless them. He loved his home language chewa but I only learned 2 use the 2words 2greet only which were murimbwanji meaning hello and murimbwino meaning how are you. He came from Malawi but that time before he passed away I was young so he never spoke 2 me about it.

He loved his family alot and he used to perfom his home rituals whereby he would invite all his kids and their family and perfom sadaka(its traditional appeasement to the ancestors). My aunties would make traditional beer which would be brewed for 7days before being served on that, and they would slaughter a goat and cook the blood of that goat without salt and braai the meat, they slaughter chickens too, and cook them. These would be served with white rice only. Then before people feast my grandfather will go in centre and kneel and talk to his ancestors asking for blessings and guidance on how to guard his family, he would then pour some of the traditional beer on the ground, and the feast will start, it was a joyous celebration all the families together in his home.

Donate. Please make a donation into the PayPal ikon at the end of the newsletter. All donations this week will be given to Grace. We hope Grace will write for us again. Her writing style is so personal that you feel she is somebody you already know.

That's it for this week. We wanted to give the whole show to Grace, so I will display my own pearls in the next edition. I am having back surgery in a few days -- Monday. Recovery from that procedure means that another issue next Friday is unlikely  -- unless Eugene wants to do it. Eugene will be in charge. He has been a great help to me with this changes we have introduced, such as photos and a semi-firm weekly schedule.

Not forgetting the further adventures of Precious and Frederick and their fabulous adventure to Malawi, to Chembe village where Precious's ancestors are buried. Every urban African has a home village and Chembe is her true home, for her first visit, with a brand new rich, white husband in tow. She will make quite a splash.

People of Chembe speak Chewa, which goes Mulibwanji --- or hello. Mulibwini  -- how are you? I am taking my kasu -- hoe-- to the mindu --field and I will cultivate the cassava crop which is nearly ripe.

Please contribute to the fund in PayPal and we can make a nice cash gift to Grace Sibanda. I will ask her to keep writing for us. Perhaps she can share her hopes and dreams  --- for herself, for her husband and children, for Zimbabwe, and for all Africa. Grace, is there hope for a better world? She can answer that question, or write about something else if she chooses.

All my best to you and yours, Fred

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Part Two, Domestic Tranquility

FROG HOSPITAL -- June 5, 2020

Part Two, Domestic Tranquility

By Fred Owens

This is the beginning of Part Two of the African Story. Part Two will describe the incredible journey to Malawi, going way back into the mountains, to the little village of Chembe, where Mataka's ancestors are buried and where he grew up. Precious and I took him there, but also we took Aunt Marji and Aunt Winnie, to make a jolly family expedition back to the roots. I myself, being fully and legally married into this family, was welcomed to Chembe village as a long-lost relative come home.

But let's go back to the wedding on September 1, 1997, when Precious and Frederick became united. Very quickly after the wedding, an atmosphere of deep domestic tranquility descended on our rented home at 21 Shottery Crescent. We simply enjoyed ourselves. Our spirit is displayed in this wonderful back yard photo, showing Precious and me in a standoff. This pose tells the entire history of man versus woman. She is in her bathrobe with her hair done up and wearing a pair of blue slippers --- my slippers, in fact, feeling free to borrow them. She has her arms crossed. He has his hands in his pockets. Nobody is giving an inch. These are very stubborn people. Yet it seems playful, and it was. So our life unfolded in our rented castle, as we planned the honeymoon homecoming journey to Malawi.


I told you last week that we would interrupt the narrative with other things, like an opinion. I try to keep opinions out of the story and to just let things unfold. But this interlude is a good place for such argument.

I have not studied the problem in an academic sense, but I did live in Africa for a year and did marry and live with an African woman for 7 years, and I might have learned something. So here's my opinion on the whole situation. African men live like kings, they get waited on hand and foot and so they have no incentive to improve their circumstances, why give up such a good thing? At Mataka's house the ladies sat outside the kitchen door on woven mats on the ground. The men sat in chairs on the front porch. I never saw a man sit on the ground on a mat. I never saw a woman get preferred seating on the front porch.
The men aren't going to upset the mango cart. They drink their beer and let the women do all the work.
The best way to change that is to make sure that the young girls get good schooling. If they get those learning tools from good instruction then they can turn the entire continent upside down and make it a better place.
The men would have a little less leisure time, they might even have to fetch their own beer, but you know, c'mon guys, it won't kill you.
How A Daughter Loves Her Father
Grace Sibanda, a cousin to Precious, wrote this memory of her father, Smiley Sibanda. Smiley was uncle to Precious and we often visited his nice home in the Nketa Nine neighborhood. Grace writes in the local dialect of African English. I found it easy to understand and had no desire to correct her choice of spelling and grammar. I found her writing to be powerful and heartfelt. Grace is a young woman who lost her father and she expressed her admiration for Smiley and the grief she has endured since his passing.
Smiley dick sibanda, 3born of patrick mataka. My dad was a down 2 earth father, he was a go 2 guy, most reliable, trustworthy and a wonderful counselor .Smiley worked at the Kango factory as the machine operator. He started work there at an early age of 18. He worked there till the time of his passing. Smiley was married 2 Catherine Phiri (my mum) who is a Zambian. Together they had a small family, Grace and Duncan. My dad had no car but he had a bike which by that time was the best mode of transport given 2 workers by their employers. He would go to work and knock off 4pm, get home freshen up and go to tavern to have a beer or two with his friends. He never liked the traditional beer but he enjoyed his Castle, and he smoked Kingsgate cigarettes.

After whiling time with his friends he would come home watch tv and spend time with us, and he never missed supper with us. His favourite meal was pap and cow heels, cow insides and vegetables.On weekends he used spend most of the time with the societies he had formed, several clubs and burial societies. He was the secretary and in some he was the treasury, and when his favourite team played he would go and watch his team play. His favourite club was highlanders club. In his family he was one man they relied on be it wedding, funeral, parties his input was essential, a very smart man he was, and clean, he loved his formal suits, weekends he wore jeans and t-shirts.

My dad was a loving man who showed me so much in life, he valued education and he always strived for us to have the best in terms of education and life. I was daddy's girl. Smiley never got sick he just complained of feeling cold. We went to the hospital they took some test and gave him some pain stoppers. We went back home and there was no change. On the second day he passed away. I spoke with him on that day. I left the room and after he spoke to my mum, then he passed away peaceful. Smiley had a good fight in life. He might have passed on when we still wanted him but he had an amazing life which he enjoyed.

(Then I asked Grace if she remembered my visits to her home in 1997)

Yes I always loved to see you, back in the days seeing a white man close to blacks was a rare experience, and I know my parents loved to host you. Remember the two trees you planted in our home, mulberry and figs, they still standing and my mum has memories, wonderful memories.

So that is how a daughter loves her father, as Grace loved Smiley. She can tell more stories  about her life in Zimbabwe -- her husband, her children, her mother, her work, her happiness and her sorrows. Write back to us and tell us if you liked her story and we will pass this on to her.
I would like it if Grace told us more of her story.