"We Grew Up Happy": Positive Pre-War Memories

Part Four of Mothers of the Revolution: Oral Testimony of Zimbabwean Women

Irene Staunton: Publishing Director, Baobab Books

In literature this background [of Pre-Independence poverty] was explored by Charles Mungoshi in The Coming of the Dry Season and Waiting for the Rain books that he wrote before independence - and it forms an eloquent background to Shadows by Chenjerai Hove and B>Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga, amongst others. In Mothers, the women simply state what life was like for them. They accepted it without self-pity and through their voices, a social history, a human history of Zimbabwe is illuminated Aside from the strength, the matter of factness with which hardship is accepted, there is pride and acceptance in what they have achieved for themselves and not all memories were memories of loss:

I was born in 1927 ... it was a long time ago and mothers did not worry about anything except bringing up their children and we did not worry about anything at all: we passed our time roasting dry maize. That was before people got to know about the white man's food. Later we found that sugar cost sixpence and dresses a shilling: if you had as much as three shillings you could buy the most expensive dress in the shop. ... ... We swam in the pools and rivers but boys swam on one side and girls on the other. Afterwards we lay on the river sand to get dry ... --Meggi Zingani (119)

We led a very happy life ... I was very industrious and did a lot of sewing. I made a lot of nice things which always won prizes at shows ... I won an iron and the following year I won a portable radio. On that occasion I had sent my children to the show and when it began to get late and they were still not home, and then I heard the sound of a passing radio ... to my astonishment the sound drew nearer and then I heard the children calling out congratulations ... I loved that radio ... and carried it with me even when I went to the fields ...--Flora Sibanda (38)

We grew up happy: there was nothing to hinder us from happiness. Life was not too difficult. we could get food easily. I helped my parents to plough and fetch water ... we also collected firewood ... there were no grinding mills so we stamped the maize ourselves ... Now when we look back we think that life was hard and difficult then. but when we were in that situation we did not mind at all ... --Daisy Thabede (197)

My early life was very good. I was a very strong, beautiful and proud girl ... I lived with my grandmother until I was fifteen years old. During that time she used to tell us about life: what to do when one married, how to live with a husband, and the proper way of doing things. She taught us good manners and to prepare samp, how to cook okra, how to grind peanut butter, how to clean maize and other grain using a big round fat basket called an ukhomane. I was taught all the proper things about an African way of life. --Cheche Maseko ( (215)

Zimbabwe OV Literature [Politics]