By Owen Maswela
My name is Owen Maswela. I live at 41 Kambanji drive, Glenlorne. I was born in Dallas, Texas in the United States of America. I am Zimbabwean however. My grandfather’s illness is what saw my family return to Zimbabwe. I went to Greystone Primary School from grade 1 to 7. On arriving in Zimbabwe, I didn’t understand or speak Shona and then every time we visited relatives everyone would be speaking in Shona. I would get so upset about the fact that I couldn’t speak and understand this language. I was also afraid of flies, cockroaches, and even ants because in America you hardly see these insects. I was nevertheless happy that I had lots of space to play in and I had dogs. I had also never played in the sand and so I was quite excited. I began to learn Shona in grade 1. It is at this time that my grandfather died and I felt very heartbroken. I was named after my grandfather and we were very close.
I was taught that in Zimbabwean culture, I had to respect my elders when I speak to them. I have to stand up for them when they need to sit. I was also taught how to greet people honorably like ana Gogo and Sekuru’s in rural areas like kuvaombera. Lastly, I learned how to eat wild fruits like matamba, tsubvu, nhengeni and some Ishwa.
I visited my mother’s rural area. She comes from Rusape. Here I helped to herd cattle and goats. This made me very excited. I look forward to going to Rusape every holiday to date. My father comes from Shurugwi. I visited my Ambuya and sekuru. Sekuru taught me how to milk a cow. At first, I was very afraid to get kicked by the cows but with time I got used to it.
The African-Zimbabwean culture embraces the division of labor between men and women who have different roles to play and fulfill. In the rural areas, women collect firewood and water. They normally have to travel long distances to get these resources whilst men farm, herd cattle and hunt.
Where history comes into play, I have learned of British business man and imperialist Cecil John Rhodes and his desire to obtain exclusive mining rights in Zimbabwe. He gave King Lobengula of Northern Ndebele the Rhodes Concession to sign in this regard. It is said that Lobengula signed the concession because he wanted one packet of sugar. I have then learned about the legend of Chaminuka. Chaminuka was the chief of Chitungwiza, a high-density dormitory town Zimbabwe. I have travelled to places like Kariba where I was told about the legend of the Nyaminyami. While there I went on a boat cruise that took me to isolated islands. Finally, I have been to Vic falls which are 878km away from Harare. I have learned a lot about Zimbabwean culture.
Life in Zimbabwe is a hustle yet a blessing. I love Sadza and other cultural foods from this nation. I love Zimbabwe.
This is a competition entry by a writer based in Africa. The competition which was held earlier this year encouraged storytellers aged 12-20 to write about life and culture of their country. The winner has since been announced.