I Kept Making Excuses for Him

I met him at the age of eighteen and he was two years older than me, ready to settle down. He was all I wanted in a man, tall, dark chocolate skin, and handsome. As if his physic wasn’t enough, he was focused, determined, respectful, loving and a go getter. His character and appearance combined made him simply irresistible. I was in love, and two years down the line we got married and I got pregnant. After our third child is when he started coming back home late, having unexplained work trips and the arguments had increased. What was wrong with me, was I not bathing enough? Had the sex become ‘not good enough’? Had I gained too much weight? Was I simply no longer woman enough for him?
He had changed, changed from the person I fell in love with. It felt like I was living with a stranger, someone I had never met and not the person I had said ‘I DO’ to. The children no longer knew him, he had become a visitor in his own home. I initially followed the cultural advice that since the man was the head of the house, you could not question his behavior (hanzi murume haabvunzwe). Rumors started building up that he was seeing another woman, I was in disbelief, in denial, and never imagined that a man that used to adore me that much would opt for another. What was wrong with me, was I not intelligent enough? Did I not dress up smart enough? Was I not cooking well enough? Was I simply no longer woman enough for him?

The day I decided to question him is the day everything completely changed. I had spotted his car at a local flat and after lying about his whereabouts that afternoon I told him I had seen him. He admitted to having a girlfriend but insisted I had to be punished for questioning his behavior. I had married a monster, my very own lover had become my very own abuser. All I did was cover my face as he bashed and shamed me, little did I know that my youngest child was watching. After this day I prayed he would change, I fasted for that man that I had fallen for to return. I blamed evil spirits and in my heart I believed he would change. This was not the last time he ‘punished me’, I had literally become his punching bag. When he had had a bad day, when he had had a fight with his girlfriend, or any other day, I had become his stress reliever. I needed to tell someone, but cultural advice that I had been given continued ringing in my head. (Chakafukidza dzimba matenga), you had to keep to yourself and not let the world know what was happening in your house. What curse had God brought into my home? What sin so big had I committed to deserve this kind of punishment? Had I not submitted all by plans to God prior to my marriage? Was I simply no longer woman   enough for him?

The day he came and told me his girlfriend was pregnant and he wanted to marry her is when I finally discovered that I was not the problem and neither was God. All this time I had blamed other people for his shortcomings and all his outbursts. Him banging the door in my face; waking up with a black eye and making excuses to the world on how I had banged my head on the cupboard. I had gone for years making excuses for him and blaming myself yet I was not the problem, neither was God but he was. I had not gained too much weight, the sex was still good enough, I was bathing just right, I was still intelligent, I still dressed up just right, my cooking was still on point, God was still God and I definitely still was woman enough! 
This is my mother’s story, her body, her right, she felt violated. Violated by the man she loved, and still loved, but after all the bashing and buttering, she had had enough and had the strength to leave. She had the strength to make the decision that she had had enough and it was time to take back her body, and her right. The day my father bashed her I was the daughter that was watching and this memory had lived with me twenty-five years down the line. 

Now, I am stuck in an abusive relationship. I have been making excuses because he does not beat me up, never has he laid his hand on me. However, he has raped me a number of times – he calls it conjugal rights because I am his wife. He does not allow me to work and says he will provide all I need but I have to account for every cent spent. All the nasty words you can think of, he has called me those. At times I wish he would slap me instead of the names he calls me. Why am I still here? Why am I still making excuses for him? It is easy to understand how you can go from an abusive parent to an abusive husband – or indeed to become an abuser yourself. It is a familiar place in emotional terms. It has a safety of its own. You understand the dynamics of abuse even if you don’t like them.
Day 29 of the #30DayAfriBlogger challenge and we talk about toxic relationships. Most of us know when we are in one but we keep at it for one reason or another. It is important to look at the reasons why women stay in abusive relationships but equally important is why some men are abusive. Knowing that you are toxic can be the root change for your next relationship. This can even be a simple friendship. Maybe you know you give crap advice as a friend, or maybe you have nothing to offer in a friendship; fixing that about yourself may reduce the toxiticy in your friendships.


If you don’t like it don’t look at it

The question for day 23 of the #30DayAfriblogger challenge is “would you let you significant other police your dressing’. Yes, this is another that I started but never got to post. But as I play catch up on the last day, here it is.
Subconsciously and sometimes intentionally we do not necessarily police what our significant others do or wear but we blackmail them into it. He can often say ‘Women who wear short dresses and short are doing so to seek attention’ or you often hear him pass bad comments towards women who wear heavy make-up. He won’t necessarily say it to you directly but he will pass suggestions that will ring in your mind the next time you are putting on that make up and suddenly you tone it down yourself. The next time you are putting on shorts you may start feeling as if you are losing confidence in yourself as you play those words you have heard before.
My answer to this is, yes he can, but he MAY not. Advising each other on what to wear for what occasion is different from policing. When visiting his side of the family my partner can tell me if what I am wearing is appropriate or not for his family and so forth. And when visiting my family the same.    
Women are being policed about what they wear, what they say, what they do, how they walk and a whole lot of other things. As a partner it would be great if you just gave her a break and allow her to flourish. At the same time, if you are attracted to women who wear very long dresses and no pants then stop dating women who want to show off their skin. The math is simple right. If you do not like men that wear skinny jeans then stop looking at them then try to change them when you enter into a relationship.

Funny we complain about our significant other policing what we wear yet most of us have grown up with parents that would police what we wear. It’s unfortunate for women who technically change ownership from the hands of a policing father to the hands of a policing partner. The struggle doesn’t end. 

Top 3 destinations for my 30th

So I actually wasn’t going to blog about travelling, mainly because I like to travel but I can’t always afford it so it disappoints me to talk about travel destinations. As a matter of fact I wrote this on the day of the challenge but I just did not post it. Anyways here we are.

 Joys of being single, or rather not married is that I am only really accountable to my mother who had technically winned me off. Not having a child dependant even brings more joy because I do not have to think of who to leave my child with when I go backpacking; though I still have to worry about who I will leave my dog with.
I turn 30 next year and since forever I have wanted to travel to Mauritius for my 30th. My bestfriend probably got tired of hearing that. But with the way my bank account looks right now I would need to win the lotto to make it in 225 days. One day I will make it though, at the moment Mauritius just remains my top holiday destination in Africa. Think white sands and blue waters-paradise.

30th birthday destination 1 failed, but maybe I could backpack to Lake Malawi. 

By backpacking I mean literally back packing. Catch a random truck from Lilongwe.
10 backpacking destinations in Africa. 

I totally love Zimbabwe, and I have done my fair share of local tourism. I have been to Victoria Falls, Great Zimbabwe, Matopos, Vumba, Nyanga, Kariba, Chinhoyi Caves, and other places. Option number 3 as I turn 30 is the mysterious Mutorashanga green pool.  I hope there is a diving facility there, it would be nice to see what is down under.

Potrayal of Women in Shona Songs

So you missed day 7 of the #30DayAfriBlogger challenge? Well that’s because it never came, my apologies. I was caught between no motivations and really failing to compile a list of my top 10 favorite Zimbabwean songs. I am so tempted to go way back into time, when music was music. My list would probably comprise of the legendary Tuku and Chiwoniso. My friends and I were discussing which songs they liked most on Mutinhimira wemimanzi/Ezomugidho and did that just take us way back, to some good memories of Zimbabwe; collecting mild at the gate after the milkman dropped it off, to going to the Agricultural show being a thing (or is it still?). It got me thinking of how we would place the sofa cushions inside our shirts when the song Zangaliwa (I’m sure that isn’t even the name) came on. I also remember my cousins and I crying when the song by Sekuru Gora came on; “Kana ndafa guva rangu isai pachuru”, because my grandmother had said she would want to be buried on an ant hill. The song goes on to say “kuti ndigojurujwa nevanondida”, I am sure we had done something wrong that she was now using to blackmail us that since we didn’t love her, the ants could eat her when she was dead because they would love her. #goodtimes. 
Some time ago I was reading a research that explores the images of women as portrayed in Shona songs by Zimbabwean male singers, how the singers construct and represent these images. The argument was that songs are a popular medium of communication and the message affects people’s views of the world around them, including gender relationships. It is therefore important to understand the messages that are imbedded in the songs and the images they invoke because ultimately, song, like all literature, offers a platform to interrogate the images and reshape people’s attitudes. There are multifaceted and stereotyped images of women that are largely engrained in the cultural values and expectations of the Shona people. I have heard young leaders sharing the same sentiments as they argue that some of the music in a way encourages them to experiment with sex, alcohol and other drugs because it has been made to seem like the ‘in thing’. Songs like Chekeche with the lyrics “Chingoma chakanyanya chinodhaka kunge musombodhiya” in a way influences young people to try out this drug that gives you this kind of high that is as good as this music. In this blog I explore some local music that portrays women in a particular way which in turn influences gender relations.
Ndinoda wangu – William Tight.

Mai vaDhikondo – Brass Brand.

Shut up udye mari – Winky D.

Musika – Boom Beto.  
There are many more examples that you could also add that have portrayed women in a particular way that mostly sexualizes them. The ignorance of some musicians leads to generation of such lyrics, maybe because they do not think of the effects of these lyrics or they do and they do not care really, as long as the music flows and the songs sounds good.
The debate has always gone further to talk about the representation of women in music videos. Women are seen dancing provocatively, touching themselves, touching other males or other females. This generally brings out three schools of thought. That women are asserting their femininity, expressing themselves sexually or this can be seen as damaging and problematic because if males did this it would be seen as offensive, and that women are viewed as sexual objects. What are your thoughts?   

Dating While Parenting; Single Mum Diaries

I had to rope in a guest writer for this one, it is always better to hear something from the person that is experiencing it as opposed to a narration. Though I feel my friend needs to blog more (I mean she needs to start), she refuses, but I know one of these fine days she will jump on the wagon. It is important to share our stories because we do not know whom they may help and also because they get us thinking which eventually might help change the status quo to make society a better place to live in. And women just need to continue documenting their experiences #HerStory.

Day 27 of the #30DayAfriBlogger challenge and we talk “Dating while parenting”. 3 more days to go and a few blogs to catch up on. Here is today’s blog by Shuvai…

I think we can start of by mentioning what dating is so that we can be on the same page. Dating is basically a stage whereby two people meet, starting off as friends interact socially with the aim of assessing the other’s suitability as a prospective partner in a more committed relationship or marriage. It is basically checking compatibility through exploring each other. Unfortunately, when you are Zimbabwean it could mean other things like how when you start dating they start throwing the ‘saka ari kuroora riinhi?’- when is he going to marry you? Question. As complex as it sounds, the situation is worse off if you are a single parent especially a single mother. 

It seems as though once you have a child your right to date no longer exists. In some families a single mother is expected to redeem herself from her major sin of tarnishing the family name by being unmarried yet having sired a child or children, by focusing on being a mother, forget dating and having some kind of freedom to party with friends. If she tries to go out on a date she is asked ‘ukuenda kupi uchisiya vana’ (where do you think you are going leaving your children?) This becomes very challenging for a single mother to date because not only is she fighting the stigma but finding time to even date between working an 8-5 job and the children. Some of them end up losing the will and energy to, hence the need for intervention from friends and family especially if they came out of a bad situation like death of a lover, a nasty divorce from an abusive spouse or rejection from a former lover.

Then when the date finally comes by, she now has to deal with the guy assuming that she is a single mom because her husband died and if so what killed him then or that she came out of a nasty situation. It’s never assumed that she made a conscious decision to have a child because she was ready for it and decided not to marry. It cannot happen like that NO. It’s not pathetic enough. It’s totally unfair to assume that all single parents went through unpleasant experiences with their ex’s…maybe she just left him. And even if they did, why can’t we focus on how they survived it and still manage to love again. For pit’s sake it is not easy trying to find a man who will deal with the idea of attaching himself to a kid that isn’t his and the possibility of becoming a step parent and a chance of interacting with a dreaded ex. Not forgetting the ultimate result of having a blended family and the step children getting acceptance and approval from his family. All one can do is hope that the environment remains cordial.

That being said, it is clear that some single parents have failed to maintain a balance which probably led to the negativity around their dating issues. It includes exposing children to different lovers which is outstanding. It’s okay to create a boundary ladies and protect your kids. Do not lean too hard too soon remember you are only dating meaning he could be gone so why should every guy who is buying you pizza meet your kids? Do not do it until its official we are marrying him. Imagine if you create that bond between him and the kids and then the love thing doesn’t work out…you might end up stuck in a relationship that ended a long time ago because he is good with the kids. Let go ladies’ loss is a part of life move on because staying for the kids is pretty old.

Ladies you can be happy again. You have gone through it all and you emerged stronger so go on with a full heart, confidence, no time for self- blame and grudges. Be kind and let it bleed into your relationships. Don’t waste time with losers when you can be home with your awesome kids. If he is not worth it, out he goes!!  Loneliness have no space in your house –no dinners eaten alone, your kids always with you. Keep your priorities straight and your hormones in check. A single mother can date seriously or casually- Hell she can be seen out dancing on a Friday night!!!

Feminism/ Womenism/ Humanism; where do you stand?

Day 25 of the #30DayAfriBlogger challenge and we speak Feminism, Womanism and Humanism. Where do you stand and why? I identify as an African feminist and that probably shows in most of my posts. So why not hear what other writers in this challenge are saying? If they identify with any of these and why. Anything I would have blogged about would really have sounded like an explanation, and I kinda hate explaining myself. Click and read from these talented bloggers.

    Let me know where you stand and why. #happyreading

    Nothing Funny About Rape

    How did this thing of using rape incidences as jokes even become an actual thing in Zimbabwe? I have heard a lot of people use the “ndobva tadii paya” statement so often of late. These young serial rapists just became famous. One of their faces is being used as a meme, like really, come on people. Just imagine this; you are a victim or a relative to someone who was raped by these boys and you constantly come across their faces every day. Nothing is funny about someone being forced to have sex, or how someone who did it explains it. Wait, someone even put that clip on a soundtrack. As if these young boys are being praised for what they did. The sound track is not even to say do not rape, or what they did was wrong, but it plays over and over again the words. What does this teach other young boys? What does it say to the girls? 

    Rape makes you famous all of a sudden. Rapists get sound tracks. The impact that music has on people is enormous. Music encourages and it teaches. The best way to put something across is through music. Remember how in school it was easier to remember the periodic table and the mupanda through song? Exactly! If all this was coming across with a message it would make sense, but just nje like this. No.

    Nothing is funny about rape. Just stop it!

    Till it happens to you, you don’t know how it feels, how it feels.

    Till it happens to you, you won’t know, it won’t be real.

    No, it won’t be real, won’t know how it feels. – Lady Gaga

    Sunday rant over. 

    I am not my Hair, or maybe I am.

    I am getting used to being called Rasta by the touts and the random guys on the street. I am also used to being asked if I want some supply or if I have any supply during shows like the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA). In civil society I am privileged that there is some sort of unwritten hair code which means the majority are always rocking their natural hair and there is a significant number of dreadlocked women there too. So I definitely feel at home when in those circles. The challenge I have mostly encountered has been with the police who already automatically think you are either a peaceful Rasta who will be docile or they think you are carrying drugs.

    My first encounter was at a roadblock on enterprise road. On this particular day I was wearing full Rasta colors, hence this didn’t make it any better. I was stopped and asked to park on the side of the rad, normal procedure of producing the license and the police officer started doing a complete check of the car. From outside he came inside and started opening the glove compartment, under seats and all over. Being the calm Rasta that I am I waited it out and allowed him. After one round in and outside of the car he handed me over to another guy who was in civilian clothing. He took over the search, including opening my bag. The calm Rasta mode switched off instantly and I asked that he give me a search warrant. He then explained how he was with the CID department and that my hair and regalia were reason enough to suspect that I could possibly be carrying drugs, specifically marijuana. Seeing that I had lost my patience I was told to proceed.

    Second encounter, I was stopped close to Southerton police station. On this day I had my 3 nieces and my nephew with me. The police officer asked to do a routine check, asking me to open the boot and to check in the back seat. He said they were doing a random stop and search at the roadblock. After moving the kids from one end to the other and nearly traumatizing them I then asked him to tell me what exactly they were searching for so that I could help him look or at least show him where ‘it’ was. You cannot even imagine what his response was #smdh – “tiri kutsvaga zvinoputika” (we are looking for explosives). He even had the nerve to continue after that, telling me again that because of my hairstyle I was likely to be carrying drugs. Bye officer.

    I have not personally had to explain my hair to any one, except the police. Having travelled to the US my hairstyle defined me to an extent.  The place I worked was fortunately a multi-cultural center that pretty much accepted me and my hair. However this would probably not have been the same if I was in another workplace as dreadlocks are considered to be unprofessional hair (you can Google that). In regards to relationships I obviously attracts guys that like natural hair and makeup with everyone I have dated having loved my hair and no complaints from that end. My family is both liberal and conservative, I cannot remember anyone commenting about it. The church is slowly accepting of dreadlocks, but when I started the journey; add the piercings on my face, I always received the random looks. Then they got used to it. The time I worked in a bank I had not yet gone natural, but the conduct was clear that you could not have any hair in your face as a personal banker. Your hairstyle had to be professional, not sure what that means though (what are the limits since the internet definition of what professional hair is, is not really something that we can go by)

    I have been dreadlocked for 4 years now, almost 5. This is the best decision I have made in my life-regarding my life that is. As a young woman I have to explain a lot of the decisions I make, but fortunately my hair has not been one of them, except to the police.  

    My hair journey over the years


    Day 22 of the #30DayAfriBlogger challenge and we talk black women in the workplace; do we have to explain our hair. Would you have your significant other police your hair? What have been some experiences you have met in the workplace because of your hair?

    Most common myths about dreadlocks.

    1. All dreadlocks are dirty.

    Dreadlocks are only dirty if you don’t take care of them and wash them. Not washing dreadlocks is the best way to ruin dreadlocks. You should wash your dreadlocks at least once a week.


    2. You can’t wash dreadlocks.

    Not washing dreadlocks is the best way to ruin dreadlocks. You should wash your dreadlocks at least once a week.


    3. Anyone with dreadlocks is dirty.

    Not true!! Dreadlocks need to be washed.

    Read more here

    Stop asking people when they will have children

    Okay, people just need to stop with the questions on when someone is thinking of having children (especially if you are not close to someone and you are not sure what is happening in someone’s life). It was or maybe still is common tradition for the aunties (ana tete) to start asking a new couple if there is anything wrong in their relationship (sex life is really what they mean) if they have stayed together for a few months but without getting pregnant. Not so close friends and relatives have also caught on to asking this question, but people do not consider just what a couple could be going through or what decisions they are making.

    Before you pass the “we are now waiting for a baby” comments just stop and think for a minute; maybe one of them is infertile, set aside their choice to not want to have children. Day 21 of the #30DayAfriBlogger challenge and I share my thoughts on infertility. Although infertility affects man just as much as women, society seems to stigmatize women more when it comes to troubles in having children. The moment most people read the topic “when you cannot have kids” most thought of this as a woman’s issue, that she is the one who cannot conceive. In previous generations a man would be protected from ever knowing that he was infertile. His family would secretly organize for his brother to impregnate his wife so that the children will still look like him but to never know. When a woman was infertile the husband would be advised to take up another wife that could bear him children. The bible has similar examples of women who even at times would organize for their servants to bear children for their husband, because of the importance that is placed on having children.

    In an article by Suzanne Jennesen she says;

    Fertility is an incredibly private subject, and I wish we’d all learn to tread far more carefully. I’ve watched friends at work announce pregnancies and seen them turn to others saying, “You’ll be next!” I’ve done it myself — all with good intensions. But what if that person has just had her third failed round of IVF and all she keeps thinking is that she WON’T be next? An innocent comment could wound far deeper than we’d ever realize.

    Women in their 30s don’t need to be reminded that their “clock is ticking,” newlyweds don’t need to hear “Don’t wait too long, eh!” and parents of small toddlers don’t need to be questioned “When are you going to give little Joe a sibling?” It is frankly none of our business.

     Maybe let’s also talk about situations where a woman has made a decision to not want to have children regardless of whether they can conceive or not. 

    Women who decide not to have children are often viewed as selfish and the assumption is that they will change their mind sooner or later. I have heard statement such as “ndimi muchazotinetsa mava kuita vana in your 50s” loosely translated to you will give us problems when you want to have children in your 50s. But why can’t a woman be alowed to make that choice? To make the decision regarding if she wants to have children or not. If she does end up changing her mind later in life can she just make that decision. Society easily will police women on everything. If a woman decides to have children ten children she is told that is too many and she is being selfish because she will not be able to give the children the same care. If she has two, she is told they are too few. If she has none she is called selfish because there are some that want children that can’t, but aint there others who have had them and dumped them or rather just not loved them? Unloved daughters.

    So the next time you think of passing that comment, just stop it!! It is not a password to heaven. 

    Quick facts;

    • Myth – “Infertility is a rare disorder.”

    Truth – Primary infertility is understood to be the failure of a couple to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse. In the female older than 35, it is generally defined as no conception in six months since problems with infertility increase with age and age reduces the likelihood that treatments will be successful. 

    • Myth- “Infertility is usually due to a problem in the woman.”

    Truth – It is important for couples to understand that the causes of infertility are almost equally shared by female and male partners. In addition, frequently the causes are multiple with some belonging to each side of the fertility “equation”. This is commonly referred to as mixed factor infertility. The critical point to understand about causes is how important it is to discover what they are. Just knowing one (i.e. blocked Fallopian tubes in a woman or a low sperm count in a man) does not mean that others do not exist. A full investigation by a knowledgeable medical provider is essential to saving time, money and emotional energy.

    Read more here