Being a woman, Being a black woman, Being a black woman in Zimbabawe – MaKupsy 2017
Good morning my darlings, this is a post from last year that I feel needs to be read by anyone who missed it. Below, a Zimbabwean woman shared her story.
From the onset please note that this is an account of my experiences and does not in any way speak for all single mothers in Zimbabwe. I had my first baby at 16. I was still in school. I got pregnant again at 18 while I was doing my final year of High School “A level”. Don’t ask how…It’s a story for another day.
Life at School Amazingly I never faced any judgement or shaming. Maybe it was because I had left the school by the time I started showing. I started showing very late during the pregnancy and by then had been moved to a school closer to home. But even in the new school everyone was amazingly okay with it and I even went on to do my A Level with no hassle. So being in school as a single mum was not so bad.
Life in Church My family church is Anglican. They were not as accommodating; and for church people, looking back, I feel they were too judgemental. Since I was no longer a virgin, I did not qualify for Saint Agnes Guild nor did I qualify for Mothers’ Union because firstly I was too young, and secondly I was unmarried. But as I grew older, I still could not be part of the Mother’s Union because I was unmarried. Even getting my kids baptised was a hassle. They told me they can’t baptise kids whose fathers are “unknown”. You see, my baby daddies have never seen their kids hence I don’t include their names on the kids’ documentation. They are not even on the birth certificates. My kids finally got baptised at age 12 and 9 after one church elder, a woman; made so much noise about it and threatened to take the issue further up to the Bishop. But over ally, the church never accepted me after my teenage pregnancies. I have since stopped going to Anglican.
Life at home From the onset let me say God blessed me with two amazing parents who took my kids in and looked after them as if they were their own. But it was a different case for my mother and me. She never quite forgave me for the shame I brought on her by getting pregnant twice. I did the unforgivable in her eyes! Life at home was bed of nails. I became the proverbial slut. After all, according to my mother; the reason none of the guys married me was most probably because I was a slut. It had to be my fault. It never occurred to her that maybe it was just them who failed to man up. As a result anything that went wrong in the home was my fault. If she needed someone to lash out at, that was me. My own sister was warned to keep her husband away from me lest I try and snatch him from her. At the worst of times I was accused of sleeping with my father. You see, he is a very forgiving man who will not continuously punch you for one transgression. He believes in moving on. My mother never understood why he never chased me away from home as is expected by society. She never understood why he still enjoyed spending time with me watching soccer, generally spending father daughter quality time puzzled her after all the shame I had caused. She never accepted that he would continue to treat me the same way he treated my siblings despite all I had done to the family name. As a result she felt my father was looking at me as a ‘woman’ not as his daughter and because I was loose, I was hell bent on sleeping with her man too. The day she made her feelings known was the first time I moved out of home with my children. For the record, my father never acted inappropriately towards me ever. After moving out, she was on my case to comeback since the same society was judging her about my leaving home. I went back, I was still in Varsity. But the emotional and verbal torture would only get worse as I got older. I would always be reminded of how much of an inconvenience I was to my family. The upside of all this you may ask? It pushed me to work very hard and make a life for my kids and me. Though my older daughter is currently undergoing therapy to undo the damage caused by hearing and witnessing everything I suffered in my own mother’s house. The list is endless, I could write a whole book about my experience at home as a single mother. It was pure hell on earth.
Life among society in general I am grateful for my few true friends. They’ve kept me sane throughout the years. As for dating, it was hard to find a man who would take me seriously. The moment they hear single mother, they think you are easy, just to be taken for a ride and have no feelings whatsoever. They are mostly married men by the way. As for the single guys; they would not touch me with a ten foot pole! Extended family would throw a fit if their husbands came anywhere near me. My sister didn’t like the idea of her husband and me getting close. Then there were those who would label me without even knowing me. I was accepted by only a few members of society.
Fast forward to today; I currently live in South Africa with my daughters. I feel at home because no one ever judged me on the basis of being a single mother. I am currently engaged to a single guy who has no kids. Imagine that! Who would have thought my story would have a happy ending? I have finally found a place were no snide remarks will be made after I’m asked “So where is your husband”? And I say I don’t have one with confidence and no need to explain my circumstances. I can truly comfortably be me!
Conclusion Zimbabwe is still a long way from being a good place for single mothers. We get called all sorts of names and M1 (Mother Of One) has to be the worst term ever to come up with. I wish our society could progress beyond all that judgment and realize that just because someone is a mother, has children and not married it does not make her any less of a woman.
I would like to say a big thank you to the beautiful woman who shared this story with me. This story reminds me that us single parents should not despair, there is hope for a beautiful future ahead.