Tomorrow I’m going to get so much done!

It’s evening and I’m thinking about tomorrow. It’ll be my day off but I have so much to do. Chores, posts to write for the #BlogTemberChallenge, people to visit, a movie to watch ( an anime film called spirited away ), and so much more.  There’s hardly enough time in a day! I’ll skip supper tonight, hunger makes an early riser. The dark a.ms are my favourite time to wake up, when it’s calm and my mind is sharpest. I’ll do a bit of reading, maybe write a post or two. I should go for a jog at dawn too!

The pleasant smell of supper cuts my musing. I tiptoe to the kitchen to investigate. Spaghetti and mince meat! It looks so good. I can’t miss this, I’ll skip diner tomorrow.https://static.pexels.com/photos/8500/food-dinner-pasta-spaghetti-8500.jpg
The food was so delicious I had seconds. Now I’m so full I can hardly stand, and it’s my turn to do the dishes tonight. I’ll check my Facebook while the food settles down. An hour of scrolling, reaction emojis, and inconsequential comments pass.

I yawn, drowsy from the heavy meal. Everyone else has gone to sleep. I think to myself “You know what? Just set your alarm for 3am and do the dishes before anyone wakes up.” Solid plan! As soon I’m in my blankets I remember that I hadn’t checked my emails today. I continue pecking at the phone screen for hours. Hopping from app to app. Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, and eventually Reddit knocks me out at 1am.

A giant bee is chewing my arm. It pulls at me with a rhythmic buzz, buzz, buzz; then it starts to shriek-shriek, shriek-shriek, beep-beep… Ugh I was dreaming. My phone was tucked just below my armpit, hence the bee illusion. I swipe left, snooze. Several snooze swipes later I give up trying to wake up. My eyes are too prickly and my head hurts.

When I eventually get out of bed it’s 7 a.m, a respectable time considering when I slept. I shuffle to the kitchen to do yesterdays chore. I turn the fawcett. The tap lets out a hawking sound, and for a second I’m sure it’s going to spit, it shudders and stops. Great! No water today. I pull out the buckets from under the sink. I’d better hurry to the bore hole before the queue gets too long. No such luck. There’s no queue but there’s a truck with five 200 litre drums, and they just got there. I sit on one of my buckets, elbows on knees, head in hands. It was my job to fill the buckets before the tap water went. That mistake just cost me 2 hours of my life. Good job!https://i1.wp.com/www.financialgazette.co.zw/wp-content/uploads/water-crisis1.jpg

When I get home with the first pair of buckets my mom is up and fuming at the state of the kitchen and absence of water. She doesn’t confront me in case it disturbs the bore hole run. When the bucket trips are done, I’m ready for breakfast. Just as I turn on the stove the electricity goes. The fridge rattles, then sighs with me. I’m done! I give up on today. I’ll do better tomorrow.

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5 Little Know Facts About Zimbabwe. You’ll Never Believe the last one!

LOL I just wanted to make a “click baity” heading. Nothing really sets number five apart, and there’s nothing exciting about the rest of the facts which are in no particular order. So prepare to be amazed!

1. Kariba Dam is The World’s Largest Reservoir

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2f/Kariba_dam.jpg

Kariba dam wall

Kariba Dam is on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Kariba is strictly defined a reservoir, where water is stored to serve a purpose such as irrigation or hydro-electric power. By that definition Kariba is the biggest reservoir in the world! There are many way bigger dams, but Kariba seems to have gone the way of our national soccer team – winning by a technicality.

2. World’s Only Four Nation Quadripoint

Image result for quadripoint

According to wikipedia, “A quadripoint is a point on the Earth that touches the border of four distinct territories”. The map above should be clear enough. Zimbabwe was sandwiched between Zambia and Botswana in a comfy threesome when Namibia squeezed in its foot in and made Zimbabwe kiss its fat big toe.

3. Zimbabwean Ndebele is not Really Ndebele

There are two distinct Ndebele groups in southern Africa. The Northern Ndebele originated from a group that broke away from the Zulu during the Mfecane. Along their trek they came along the ( Southern ) Ndebele. They liked these people so much they decided to take the name with them as they migrated. That’s mostly what they have in common. Northern Ndebele language is even more like Zulu than Southern Ndebele.

4. Zimbabwean Symbols Feature The Cover of Ngugi Wa Thiong’o Book “Wizard of The Crow”

Image result

Cover of Wizard of the Crow with Zimbabwe bird and flag stripes

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/16/Zimbabwe_Bird.svg/1200px-Zimbabwe_Bird.svg.png

Zimbabwe Bird

The cover of “Wizard of the Crow” clearly shows a crow wearing a hat with the Zimbabwe bird on it. The crow also has Zimbabwe flag stripes across its wings. Wizard of the Crow is a hilarious African fantasy adventure about a man who pretends to be a wizard and is so successful that he is called by the country’s ruler who needs his powerful magic. Also on the cover is a smaller crow with an Idi Amin like hat. One can only speculate the meaning of the cover, but I have my suspicions.

5. A Zimbabwean Invented a Vehicle That Can Run Forever Without Refueling

Image result for free energy atom symbol

Free Energy

Sungulani Maxwell Chikumbutso ( Max ) invented a perpetual motion machine that can power a vehicle indefinitely. Max’s invention has failed to get a patent because his invention defies the laws of physic, a fact admitted on his company website. The website seems to be surviving on selling advertising space and asking for donations. A pity, really for such a great invention! Oh sorry, you want the link? No way! It’s too embarrassing to share!

So that ends my lesson. I’ve just added a bit of trash to your head so I don’t mind if you share some of your’s with me in the comments. It’s only fair.

What’s your <br /> Head Trash?<br />
PS One more lesson. This is a late post  but I backdated it on my post settings so it looks like I published it a day before! Shhh, don’t tell

I’ll Never be my Own Grandpa

lyrics for "I'm My Own Grandpa" by Dwight Latham & Moe Jaffe

Lyrics to the song “I’m my Own Grandpa”

 

 

The above clip and lyrics tell a complicated tale indeed! I can’t speak for other african languages but in Shona such a scenario is just impossible to translate. So I thought to myself “Mmm impossible? Challenge, accepted.” I’m gonna translate it into Shona. If you speak another Sub Saharan / Bantu language I dare you to translate it too, at least in your head. If you speak English only or other languages then just skip to the end where I explain why I’ll never be my own grandpa.

Ndiri Sekuru Vangu Ini

Kare, kare ndichine makore makumi maviri nematatu
Ndakaroora shirikadzi yaiva yakanaka zvokuti!
Shirikadzi iyi yaiva nemwana mhandara ane bvudzi tsvuku
Baba vangu vakada mhandara iyi, munguva pfupi vakato chata.

Izvi zvakaita kuti baba vave mukwasha wangu, zvika shandura hupenyu hwangu chaizvo
Nokuti mwana wangu akanga ave amai, mukadzi wababa
Pamberi zvakazoomesa kunyange zvaifadza
nokuti ndakazova baba vemwana komana.

Kamwana kangu kaiva tsano kunaBaba
Nokudaro kaivawo sekuru vangu, izvi zvakandi suwisa
Nokuti kana aive sekuru, zvinoreva aivewo hanzvadzi
Yamwanasikana weshirikadzi, uyu aive zvekare amainini vangu

Mukadzi wababa akaitawa mwana komana.
Uyu aivewo muzukuru wangu, nokuti aiva mwana komana wemwana sikana wang
Mukadzi wangu ave amai vaamai vangu, izvi zvino suwisa
Nokuti kunyange ari mukadzi, ndiambuya zve!

Kana mukadzi ari mbuya, zinoreva ndiri muzukuru wake
Pega pandino funga izvi ndino ita sendichapenga
Nokuti ndave shura ramusati mambo ona      (pardon my french)
Semurume waambuya vangu ndiri sekuru vangu!

I’m so never gonna be my own grandpa

African brothers ans sisters how did you do? I cringed at every line. reading the lyrics was like looking at pictures of tryptophobia. ( Warning! DON’T!! ) In African culture when you marry you gain a huge extended family. Everyone is a mother, father, brother or sister. Non of this “3rd cousin removed” nonsense from my western kin. There’s a set family hierarchy. I treat a brother as if we grew up together in the same house even though he’s my father’s cousin’s son in english. Now don’t get me wrong, this huge family structure does come with its peeves which I’ll get to.

I’ll try to explain the basics of the Shona family structure. in a couple of points

There are no uncles and aunts everyone is amai (mother) or father (baba) with two exceptions.

  • Sekuru – Mother’s brother. He is the highest ranking male relative in the same generation with your parents. The most respected sekuru being the oldest. Paradoxically sekuru is also his nephew’s ( muzukuru’s ) best friend. The bromance between Sekuru and muzukuru can be stronger than actual brothers.
  • Tete – Father’s sister. Highest ranking female relative. She plays the role of guidance councilor and confidant to nephews and nieces called vazukuru. Tete is your advocate to your parents when you’re in trouble with your parents. Tete is also the one who guides you through the marriage process

Now having a scenario where your father marries your step daughter mucks up these sacred relationships, not to mention highly taboo. Add in totems and it becomes one huge mess! You can think of a totem as a surname after a surname. Remember how I said everyone is a father or mother even going back many generations? You must have asked “where does it end?” Centuries ago some male ancestor picked out an animal or element of nature that had mystic significance to him and declared it his totem. The totem was carried on by male descendants. When relations get so far that they become difficult to retrace, simply asking a totem helps find out if a stranger is related. People don’t change totems. If you share the same totem with someone but have no traceable relation, the totem tells you  that you share an ancestor, and are therefore related.

There is a downside to having such a large family structure. My biggest peeve is the relative who just pitches up unannounced and sets up base in your home up to the point of long over stayed welcome. ( “Aaaaarrrrgh!! just leave already!” ) I understand that we are supposed to be welcoming to every one but that was a tradition established at a time when a spare hut could be built in a day if necessary and everyone earned their keep in the fields. Today the visitor host benefits are usually skewed on the visitors side.

Other problems like nepotism and tribalism are not so inconsequential. Now before I start There is no one big problem, and one big solution to all of Africa’s problems. Culture and identity play a big role in the development of our continent. That said I believe our culture plays a big role in corruption. In Zimbabwe I’ve seen unqualified, incompetent idiots put in high paying positions because of a tenuous blood relation. Sometimes it’s not so bad like when a distant related widow with many children is given a job out of pity. We don’t have much public social welfare, family is our insurance policy. However people tend to abuse this. Sometimes the poor widow turns out to be a lazy pilfering thief who milks your pity longer than a better person who’d have been fired ages ago.

If you’ve read my last two posts you’ll know I have a hard time ending posts. To sum up I’ll just say family is an important part of my identity. I’m only human so I won’t make bets but it’s highly improbable chance I’ll ever be my own grandpa. And please don’t be your own grandpa, or grandma

Growing Up in Africa

I had the perfect childhood. Sometimes I think my earlier years were too good to be true, and I must have imagined it all. I could describe growing up, but it’s just a bunch of memories that are only fun to me. The best illustration I can give is that it was a cross between the Netflix series “Stranger Things” ( minus cross dimensional monsters, of course ) and the classic movie “There’s a Zulu on my Stoep”. “Stranger Things” reminds me of 90’s Harare suburbia; riding around on our bikes, playing board games and Nintendo, and going to the cinema. “There’s a Zulu on my stoep” reminds me of the holiday adventures on farms and wildlife parks; drinking cow’s milk straight from the udder, teasing baboons ( not advisable ), and being chased by turkeys ( demon birds ). So yeah, it was nice!

Being in the first generation of a mixed race family I always stood out wherever I went. I was the darkest skinned with my paternal cousins, and the lightest with my maternal cousins. The innocent childhood honesty of my peers made me aware that I didn’t quite fit. Early on in life I had to contend with the question of identity. Young me chose to be more like whiter side of my extended family, using the same aforementioned naive judgement. My biggest point of contention was my Shona first name, Simba. I begged my parents often to change my first name to an English one. When I was about fourteen, my adult eyes started opening. I let go of the idea of changing my name and actually loved my name. I had realised that my African heritage was important even though I didn’t quite understand why. I felt it. I loved my name, Masimba Rodgers; Shona first, English last.

I’d been away for the school holidays and when I came back home the day before the new term. I was going to a new boarding school and had a trunk full new stuff and had to check that everything was in order. The lid of the trunk had my initials painted on in the wrong order, “NMR”. I didn’t mind. I began trying on the crisp uniforms. After tugging at the collar of the blazer I’d tried on, I opened to look at the inside breast pocket. The label sewn on said “Nigel Rodgers”. Another mistake, not a big deal. I checked the rest of my stuff. Uniforms, bed linen, text books everything was mislabeled. This was an emergency! I was in full-blown panic mode when I calmly went to my mother and told her I had checked everything and there was one small problem.

“Oh.” She said. “I’d forgotten.”
She took out a photocopy from here handbag. “I made copies of your new birth certificate. Look.”
She held out the paper with an expectant smile. “First Names: Nigel Masimba” it read.
“Ma, they also made a mistake on my birth certificate.” She laughed at my observation.
“You always wanted to change your name didn’t you?” She was right, but I was devastated.
“Ohhh! Thank you ma!” I said in mock surprise. I smiled and hugged her even though I was crushed inside.
My pan-african fantasy had been destroyed, but I was too occupied with thoughts of the new school to worry about it.

The decision to change my name had been purely practical, not philosophical. The problem was that a Shona first name with an English surname are very uncommon, so cashiers always switched the order to make my name Rodgers Masimba. Even if cashiers were explicitly told of the order, someone along the paper trail always found it and “corrected” it. I was sent home many times for unpaid school fees, much to my delight and mom’s chagrin, because my name didn’t show up on the bursars roll. So, fed up with the book-keeping errors she changed my name to the less ambiguous Nigel Rodgers.

I settled into school and my new identity quickly. Names really aren’t that big of a deal after all. Boarding school is another set of memories that are only meaningful to me, and I’ve bored you enough so I’ll stop here.

I guess it’s a bad ending to the post so let me know in the comments what questions you have or how you’d have wanted it to end. If you liked it there’s 28 more like it to come this month for the #BlogTember #30DayAfriBlogger challenge so please follow to get notification as soon as they are out!

What Mwanavhu Means

I’ll skip through the (in)formalities. Hello. I haven’t blogged in a while. I hardly blog. Bla bla bla. Et ce tera tera tera. And so on, and so forth. Now down to my post heading.

In looking for a name for my blog I wanted something that was patriotic and universal. I wanted a name that I could use my self, and address anyone with. An easy choice was “mwanawevhu”, a Shona language word meaning “son of the soil”. I like the term “son of the soil” but it has been hijacked by people with whom I do not identify. A quick look up of the definition of “son of the soil” says it is a term “…mostly used by bigots to differentiate between themselves and citizens of a different heritage.” So Mwanawevhu wouldn’t work. I can’t be universal by differentiating my self. But the literal meaning of Mwanawevhu is so poetic, I just couldn’t leave it. So I decided to think about what it was about the name I liked.

I mostly hear “son of the soil” used by African revolutionary politicians in memory of their dead comrades ( more poetry – dust to dust ). In that context it seems to mean someone with whom the experience of attaining independence was shared. While I can relate, I wasn’t there to share that experience. I tried to think of a single shared experience that I’ve had with everyone I know. We are all part of this world we call earth. We’ve all come from soil even though people separate themselves based on the location of that soil. We’ve all loved and lost, and all gone through trials and tribulations. In short we’re all human.

So Mwanavhu came out of that. It’s a Shona word I made up which means “soil child”. Just like how an aluminium pot describes a pot made of aluminium so am I a soil child. Not literal soil of  course, ’cause then I’d be Sandman from the Spiderman movie (which would be way cooler). I mean soil in a metaphorical sense. The soil that makes me is the people and places I love, and the experience I’ve had with them. In that sense everyone is a soil child. I am Mwanavhu, and so are you. Pleased to meet you Mwanavhu!

P.S. If anyone is reading this I’m curious. How do you say Mwanavhu in other languages besides Shona and English. Tell us in the comments below.

My Open Letter To Febbie

Dear Febbie

Yesterday I was made aware of a video going viral on social media about a man called Lameck. He gate-crashed a funeral of a woman who had been a mother in law to his daughter. He stopped the whole funeral and chose to speak ill of the dead, declaring boldly that the dead woman had a cruel heart and was wicked to his daughter and grandchild. He poured out his heart about a particular dehumanising treatment of his beloved daughter by the deceased where she urinated in a jug and poured the urine on his beloved child. He expressed that he was angry that the evil woman had died and that he would have loved to finish with her whilst she was still alive because God had taken her too soon before his precious daughter was vindicated.

When I watched the video, I did not laugh like what some are…

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