The War on Women's Bodies

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

Irene Staunton: Publishing Director, Baobab Books

Despite this [the danger and the cruelty of Rhodesian soldiers], the women continued to feed and support the guerrillas at risk to themselves, their families and the village. They knew that their daughters, the chimbwidos, who carried the food to might not be safe from sexual harassment and rape.

Some of the girls had children by these freedom fighters. At first they seemed to be good young men, but later on a lot of girls became pregnant. there was nothing the parents could do because they were afraid. They couldn't even ask the vakomana for fear of being killed. ... ... The father never, to my knowledge, came back to help or see the child or the woman. both Zanlas and Zipras were the same in this regard.--Margaret Viki (147)

Juliet Makande, herself a chimbwido, said:

It was unfortunate that we had to sleep with the comrades because sometimes we had sex with them. You couldn't even tell a friend about it because it might be said you were a prostitute or because the story would reach the freedom fighters and you would be in trouble. They always told us that we should never tell anyone. 'We don't want sell-outs,' they said. So if a group came today, you might have to 'go to the poshito' with one of them - that meant you had to sleep with him; and then if another group came the next day you might have to 'go to the poshito' with someone else. Some of the girls fell pregnant. The unfortunate thing was that we didn't know the real names of the freedom fighters. And, in our culture, you must have a totem, you can't just pick one from your head. Your child has to know where it comes from. Many of the children who were born in the war still don't know their totems or even their fathers' real names. --Juliet Makande (49)

Zimbabwe OV Literature [Politics]