Day 26: Being An Illegitimate Child

Today’s topic is “Children born out of wedlock” and I have the pleasure of having @_6_Legend as my Guest Blogger.  He shared his story with me and I hope as many people can get to read this and realise that; after all is said and done children whether born in or out of wedlock have the same rights and feel the same way as any other child.

We live in a society that can sometimes be harsh and harmful on the very people that make it up. A lot of people suffer due to societal standards that affect them regardless of the fact that they cannot change their position nor is it of their own making. Children born out of wedlock are some of the people affected by these societal standards and I want to talk about some of the things that they (read we) face due to their “status”.

Society is an integral part of who we are. From the people we call family or relatives, depending on the nature of the relationship, to the 3 year old girl who lives down our road, all are integral to our being. Human beings are designed to associate with and interact with the people around them. This interaction takes many different forms and has different levels of impact. They all, however, have an impact and no matter how small this impact is, it contributes to who we are as a whole. The nature of these interactions, positive or negative, also will contribute towards shaping who we become as people. As a child born out of wedlock, I had a lot of interactions which I know, now, contributed to the person I am today. I say now because when these things happened I had no idea what they meant and I sure as hell didn’t know what they were doing to me psychologically.

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Image from Pinterest

My mother and biological father were never together. She married another man and I only discovered he wasn’t my actual father when I was an adult. When I did discover it though, it made sense. He treated me differently. His family treated me different. Whenever we visited the rural areas, I could feel that I was an outcast. I think I knew right from the start that I wasn’t a part of that family but I didn’t know the alternatives and that’s why I just didn’t have that truth fall naturally to me. I told myself that my “father’s” family didn’t like me because of my mischief. I wish they had just told me I wasn’t one of them.

Then I learnt the truth…

I met my biological father when I was 20. I had mixed feelings but eventually I thought I should make an effort to form a relationship with him. I shouldn’t have. On our first encounter, he spoke about how he only lost touch because my mother got married and my step dad didn’t want him talking to her. He went on to tell me that his whole family knows about me and he would take me to meet them. No one knew about me. Five years later and I have met none of my sperm donor’s family (that’s all he is really). The moment I realized it was never going to happen, I stopped trying and I became happier. I am a fatherless person and I have embraced it. When I left my step father’s, I remember one of his sisters saying “ndakambokuudzai kuti vana vemusango vanonetsa”. Loosely translated, “I told you these fatherless children are a problem”.

The term “vana vemusango” (bastard children) has been used to describe children born out of wedlock for a long time. The term came as a description of men who wander out of their matrimonial homes and go “kusango” where they bear children. I feel that the term carries heavy negative connotations, the brunt of which is bore by the children. It is a term that shames children for being born out of wedlock as if it was their choice. It is a term designed to discriminate and sideline these children. As a society, we forget that we are all equal. Once we begin to label other people as illegitimate, we have taken a whole lot from those people. Their dignity. Their pride. Their association. Their being. We strip it all. And yet it is not this person’s fault that they came into this world in that way.

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Image from Google

I don’t even know what I wanted the point of this to be. I just had things to say and I hope I have at least articulated myself well. We all came from somewhere. Hakuna mwana wemusago…

©MaKupsy 2017

 

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Day 25: What Feminism Means To Me

Day 25 of #30DayAfriBlogger Challene topic is Feminism or Humanism or Womanism.  Where do you stand and why?  I have a Guest Blogger who shared her thoughts on Feminism with me, enjoy the read.

“I am compelled to remain on this feminist path by the many women that…feel comfortable in living differently” –​ ​Florence​ ​Butegwa

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Vimbai Midzi

 Women deserve to be treated equally, to be given a fair chance to succeed, and a safe environment to live their lives in. – Vimbai Midzi

It was a quiet realisation in a room full of women who had been through the abuse I had experienced. I hadn’t spoken at all that day, and my heart was heavier than I can articulate. There were hundreds of candles for the vigil, and hundreds of women sat in the hall – some shocked at the stories that were told, some crying, some humming quietly. My friend, who had been the closest person to me since school started, held my hand as we swayed back an forth. Without warning, surprising myself even, I stood up and began to tell my story too. I spoke with the smallest voice I’ve ever heard come out of me about a violence I wish I could forget. I stopped, one minute in, fighting tears. I looked up for reassurance of some kind, and when I looked back at my friend, she had a sign up that simply said, “You matter.” That tiny act of kindness which probably only I noticed, was the beginning of my journey with feminism and defining what it’s meant to me.

Feminism, broadly speaking, is the belief that all women and men are fundamentally equal, and that the differences in the way women and men are treated comes down to patriarchy.

Patriarchy is basically a system that privileges men over women in society – whether with regards to workplace opportunities, access to education, inheritance laws, political leadership positions or romantic relationships. Patriarchy is the thinking that says that women are intrinsically inferior to men, which trickles down into various sectors of society. For example, patriarchy is the reason in many developing countries, if a family cannot afford to send all their children to school, they’d rather send the boys and not the girls. Sometimes it’s subtle. It’s in the way girls are raised to aspire to marriage and are ‘trained’ to take care of a family’s needs, while boys often lack basic domestic skills because they aren’t expected to take part in domestic labour. Patriarchy is the reason why, for years I stayed silent about my sexual abuse, and was willing to go to the grave with it, for fear of being ridiculed or blamed. Patriarchy says that women’s lives, ideas, dreams, bodies don’t matter as much as men’s, and feminism exists to counter that.

You matter.

African feminism stems from African women’s actions and thoughts around equality within the context of African societies. It’s important to stress that my African identity is integral to my fight against patriarchy across the continent. It is particularly important, on a continent where women are systematically excluded from economic, political and social spaces, that my feminist work does everything in its power to tear apart the patriarchy that holds women back and under the feet of men. African women, post colonialism, had to deal with fighting racial oppression from white regimes, and further oppression from their own black male family members, colleagues and leaders.

Feminism is both collective and individual in its practices. Many of the changes in laws protecting women’s inheritance rights, fighting violence against women, ensuring equal opportunities in professional and educational spaces, have come as a result of the collective action of groups of feminists across the continent.  Being a feminist also means that feminists over the years have fought for me to have autonomy and personal choice –an integral part of feminism.  It also means that I’ve come to have a personal understanding of the different ways patriarchy affects me and the ways in which I fight it in my daily life.

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Vimbai Midzi

Personally, there are two things that come to mind when I think of what feminism means to me.

1. YOU MATTER

The jokes about self love aside, loving myself and acknowledging my intrinsic worth has been the foundation of my feminist journey.  Women deserve to be treated equally, to be given a fair chance to succeed, and a safe environment to live their lives in. Feminist policies like advocating for free sanitary pads so girls don’t have to miss school because of their periods, is telling girls that they matter. Their ability to attend class and society’s effort at leveling the playing field for their start in life, matters. My pain, my joy, my failure, my success, my ideas, my dreams – they all matter, and they should be taken seriously.  Feminism makes it necessary for this to be actively made a truth in women’s lives. Every demand for harsher punishments for rapists and kinder environments for rape survivors to tell their stories and get justice, every push for states to address femicide and emphasise women’s autonomy over our bodies, is feminism telling us that we matter.

2. PATRIARCHY MUST FALL

It’s important to note that patriarchy is enacted mostly by and for the benefit of men, but that women can perpetuate it too, and that men can suffer from it. Feminists fight against patriarchy as a system that harms both men and women, albeit harming women more.  Patriarchy sets impossible and toxic standards for men and how masculinity should be performed. This often means that masculinity is associated with violence, strength (the kind of strength that can never show signs of perceived weakness) and unchecked power. Men are therefore socialised to believe that they cannot be emotionally vulnerable.   for example. This would explain the rise in male suicides as a result of men being unable to seek help for mental health issues like depression. Patriarchy also socialises women to make decisions or say things that are harmful to other women, and that ultimately benefit men. When a woman judge in Uganda suspended a female court clerk for wearing a mini-skirt there were a lot of comments. In this instance, women’s dressing and bodies continue to be policed by a system that takes away women’s bodily autonomy.  That the decision was made by a woman, shows the pervasiveness of patriarchy and that; as a whole system, it needs to fall, for the sake of women mostly but also for the sake of men.

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Image from Pinterest

Feminism for me means learning and unlearning everyday.  It means standing up for myself in an environment that seeks to shrink me.  It means standing with women at all times, ensuring that our rights are protected, our voices are listened to and the war on our bodies is being stopped.  It means being unapologetically me and living myself past the pain of years of ingrained patriarchal practices and language. It means reclaiming the identity that men for centuries have given to women, and forming one for myself. Most importantly, feminism for me, is the quiet realisation that I matter.

You can find Vimbai on Twitter; @Just_Midzi she loves, supports and fights for or with black African women.  She also has a new project under way and you should watch this space for it.  A big thank you to Vimbai for sharing her thoughts, I for one now have a better understanding of what Feminism is.

©MaKupsy 2017

Day 21: The Disgrace Of Infertility In Africa

Infertility is a very hushed subject in our society.  From my observations in our society most times when the woman stays in marriage that is childless it’s usually the man who is probably facing infertility.  Us women are programmed to take it all in, the good, the bad the ugly so it’s highly likely that even when we are in very unfulfilling relationships we will stay on for the sake of love and to save face.  If the tables are turned and it’s the woman who is unable to conceive it’s a completely different ball game!

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Image from Pinterest

Today I’m going to share details of a highly controversial practice that used to be a part of our Zimbabwean culture a very long time ago.  It might still be happening now but I unfortunately don’t have those details so for now let me take you back in time…

Infertile Man 

After a couple had been married for close to a year and didn’t manage to conceive eyebrows started to be raised by family members.  Aunts would have been all up in the wife’s business by then and tried to find out what was going on.  Please note that this was a private matter and the husband was not aware of what was going on behind his back.  The aunt behind the crafty plan would ask the women to her to wipe off some sperm from their bed linen after they had sex so that elders could “examine” the strength it held.  It was after this examination that plans to find someone who could help with conceiving were made.  The aunt would approach the man in question’s younger brother and tell him about the pressing matter.  If there was no younger brother they would sit down with a trusted neighbour or relative and state their case.  The older brother was not to be a part of this as he is viewed as baba(father) and could not enter his siblings home to carry this out. If the parties agreed the woman would only meet up with the man during her ovulation days and try to conceive.  Most times it worked and a few months down the line the wife was pregnant and expecting a little bundle of joy.  Problem solved, happy woman, happy man!  There was never any mention of what transpired to finally get pregnant, it was a very private matter.  (Well now it isn’t!)

Think about it…The little brother steps in and people hi 5 the man!

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Image from Google

Infertile Woman

Her “condition” was an open discussion. (I have so much to say about this!)   The aunts and uncles would sit down with the couple and address the infertility subject.  They would approach the little sister to the wife in question.  If she agreed to stand in for her sister and try and give her uncle an heir a token of appreciation would be paid to the family and she would move in with the couple.  However, not all sisters agreed to this and in such cases the husband would get some of his lobola (stage 8- danga) back.  When this happened the husband was asked to marry a new wife so that he would be able to conceive and have his family name grow.  Back then most women stayed and took the role of first wife while a second wife was brought into the family and everyone lived happily ever after.

Think about this: The little sister steps in and people still look at the woman!!!

5 Facts About Infertility – extracted from www.owletcare.com

  1. Infertility is generally defined as not being able to conceive after one year (or more) of unprotected sex.
  2. Around one in eight couples struggle to become pregnant.
  3. Both men and women can contribute to infertility.
  4. There are various ways the infertility can be treated, including medicinesurgeryintrauterine insemination (IUI) or assisted reproductive technology such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). These methods aren’t always successful, and can be quite painful.
  5. Secondary infertility is real; you can still experience infertility in subsequent pregnancies even after previously successful, easy-to-conceive pregnancies.

Back to my rant on Female Infertility!  Why are men’s issues kept under lock and key, why must women’s flaws be laid out to bare for all and sundry to see?  This is NOT RIGHT AT AT ALL!  What makes men so special?  Why must we be the ones to be shamed???  Imagine how a woman felt.  She was already dealing with emotional issues, feeling like a failure and now she had to face a whole group of people blaming her for being infertile?  Do you have any idea what people especially relatives say about infertile women? From accusing them of having gone through several abortions to being called a witch!  Next thing she’s depressed and no one acknowledges depression; it’s too much for me to take in.  No man, this is not how things were supposed to be handled, women have feelings too!

That said, children are a gift and unfortunately not everyone gets to receive that gift.  That should not in any way bring tension into your marriage, when the time is right it will happen and if it doesn’t happen I believe there will always be something positive to bring fulfillment in both your lives.

What are your thoughts on the subject of infertility?  How is this topic handled in your society?  If I took you back in time would you agree to the practice that I just shared with you?

Today is day 21 of the #30DayAfriBlogger Challenge and our topic is My Thoughts On Infertility.  Feel free to join the conversation.

MaKupsy 2017

Day 18: Sex Education

Sex posts are one of my favourite things to blog about but today I won’t take you on an erotica journey, sadly for you.  Today’s challenge requires us to write about sex on the first date but I’m taking this opportunity to reshare a post I wrote 2 years ago.  Let’s talk sex education.  Are you taking steps in educating your children about sex or you are hoping they will remain virgins till the world comes to an end?  Remember you are responsible for how they perceive a lot of things, sex included, don’t wait for someone else to feed them with false information.  Today’s read will take you less than 10 minutes to enjoy, grab some popcorn it’s about to get real!

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Image from Google

You know that talk a child gets just before they enter their adolescent stage?  Well, I got that talk, the only difference was that mine was a very scary version.  You see, in our culture back then most parents were not very comfortable talking about sex with their children.  That job was left to the aunt but with people moving far and wide in the end your mother was left to do all the work and boy did she do a shoddy job of it.  In order to stop me from indulging in any sex her plan was to tell me stories that would stop me from even dreaming about having sex. (they worked for a while though)  I remember the day my mother sat me down to tell me how I should not have sex before I was married.  Mind you she didn’t even use the word sex; I am still to remember what term she used but I just concluded she meant sex.  She told me that if I got too close to a boy or even let him touch any part of my body her back would break.  THE HORROR!!  I didn’t even date anyone during my teen years because I was obviously scared shitless.  Why would I want a boy anywhere near me?  So that my mother’s back breaks??  That was definitely going to happen on my watch, I love my mother too much to cause her any harm!

And so I sailed through my teen years until one day a boy I fancied started writing me letters.  I was obviously excited and kept this my little secret.  I remember going for a walk with him one afternoon and then before we said goodbye he kissed me!  OH MY FREAKING GOSH!!  I was terrified!  I ran all the way home, locked myself in the bathroom and kept looking in the mirror to check if my parents would be able to tell if I had been kissed.  I was miserable for the rest of the day and when they came back from work I acted normal but my heart was pounding so hard I felt like it was going to jump right out of my throat.  The next morning and the weeks to come I woke up worried thinking my mother’s back would surely break after that kiss!  But of course nothing happened and years later I started dating, I even had sex (protected of course) and no one’s back ever broke, like ever!

I had to learn about sex through school mates and talks the women who would occasionally come to school and talk about not allowing anyone to touch your body.  They didn’t actually say anything about safe sex or contraceptives and the whole shebang.  And so I had to read about most of the things in books and or overhear my sisters talk about condoms then I figured that’s what you were supposed to use.  To be honest that was the only form of contraceptive I knew of; that and abstaining.  I still feel that my mother could have done a better job of informing me about sex and not have me wonder and seek answers from outside sources.  She did a very good job of letting me think that sex was a very bad thing not to be talked about, had or enjoyed because something terrible would happen to you.  At the same time I don’t blame her because she grew up in a time where such talks were unheard of.

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Image from Google

I asked a few friends around me to tell me how their “birds and the bees” talk when they were younger and this is the feedback I got:

“Ahh, I don’t remember being told anything by my mum.  She just told me no boys before finishing school.”

“She gave me the finer details about sex when I was around 16.  Even told me how people have sex so that little boys wouldn’t trick me with the don’t worry it isn’t sex line.”

“She never said anything.”

“I had sex figured out from my teacher.”

“We never had the talk she just said if you get pregnant don’t ever come back home.”

“Stay away from sex because you will get pregnant!  If a boy tells you he loves you run for your life!”

I am happy and sad at the same time with this kind of feedback.  Happy because it shows that I wasn’t alone in being told ridiculous things in the name of no sex before your time.  Sad because we were not given enough information about what sex really was even though we were still too young to understand it.  At least one person out of all my friends actually got to know what sex was the rest of us have to figure it out by ourselves!

When my daughter gets to adolescent stage I will sit down with her and we will have an honest and open talk about sex and not hide anything from her so that she knows how to protect herself and be aware of the on goings of her body.  I won’t scare her or tell her any lies because I want her to know she can come to me and talk about anything at anytime.

A fellow Blogger www.conscious2conscience.wordpress.com taking part in the #30DayAfriBlogger Challenge shared these sentiments;

Media will have us telling our kids too much too soon but I’m a firm believer in things being age appropriate and in parenting instincts.  When your child asks you what sex is ask them what they already know, ask why they want to know, and then take it from there.

What was your first sex talk like?  Who told you about the ins and outs of sex?

©MaKupsy 2017

Day 3: My Totem; MaDube

I absolutely looooove being a MaDube.  My totem is a zebra.  The females who bear this totem are titled MaDube.  The men who bear our totem are titled Samaita or Tembo.  I would never trade my totem for any other.  What is a totem?

A totem is a natural object or animal that is believed by a particular society to have spiritual significance and that is adopted by it as an emblem.

To be honest, I don’t have much information on the subject of totems so I will share the little bits I know.  The last time I had to do this was way back in junior school when we were tasked to find out what our totems were and write up how the totem was “praised”.  In our culture, we use totems as a form of identifying each other.  For example, take a couple trying to get to know each other, one of the first few questions they ask is, “What’s your totem?”.  Unfortunately if you bear the same totem chances are you can’t date because you will be “related”.  (There goes the love of your life.)  

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Zebra

Totems are used at different occasions:

  • For greetings; Mamukasei MaDube? (Good morning MaDube)
  • For praises when you excel at something.  For example after you have cooked a meal for your family they will thank you using your totem.  Maita basa MaDube. (Thank you MaDube)
  • When you do a great deed, for example, taking care of your siblings school fees for the term. Maita basa Tembo mugare kure nemoto. (Thank you Tembo may you be protected and not fall into misfortune.)
  • When you give your partner some mind blowing sex it takes them to another planet and back.  After such an incredible experience your partner will thank you using praises of your totem. (Maita Tembo zvirambe zvakadaro) loosely translated to; Thank you Tembo may you continue to do the things that need to be done!

Fun Facts about MaDube

  1. They are short tempered.  Trust me, I know, I’m a MaDube.
  2. They are known for being the best lay ever!  (I wouldn’t know though, I’m a virgin)
  3. Zebras have very nice legs, no lies at all.  Take another look at the picture above, then refer to the one at the bottom for confirmation.  They have strong, toned and beautiful legs and so it is only natural that those who bear the totem are blessed in that department.
  4. If you are a MaDube feel free to add more fun facts…I’m all out.
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MaDube

That said, this blogging challenge has gotten the best of me and it’s only day 3.  Today was a tough day and I nearly didn’t blog but I remembered that I am NOT a quitter and besides I initiated this challenge, who goes around letting people down like that?

If you have a totem do tell me about it.  If you are a MaDube like me what are some of the things you have heard about our totem that you can completely relate to?

©MaKupsy 2017

 

Women Need Help Too!

I have a serious bone to chew with whoever comes up with some of these things.  Don’t get me wrong I am all for taking care of your other half but lately I have been wondering.  Who takes care of the woman once a couple gets married?  Our culture expects the woman to bend and break for her husband.  From cooking, cleaning, making sure the house is in order, being intimate with him as many times as she can take it, taking care of the children, showing up for funerals, family functions, taking in in-laws…the list is endless.  In all this you are bound to ask yourself what the man will be doing in this equation.  The answer is easy really.  He will be sitting in front of the TV watching who knows what and relaxing all day long.  Basically the man does nothing.  Before you get all worked up it’s obvious its not ALL MEN who are like that, but in our culture most men are.

I am going to keep this post as short as possible so that it doesn’t turn into a man bashing rant.  What I would like to know is who is taking care of the woman in all this?  After a long days work she is expected to get home, prepare supper, make sure the children have done their homework and a whole list of other things married people do.  Would it kill the husband to actually cook once in a while if he got home before the wife?  If he isn’t much of a cook maybe pile up the dishes nicely, boil the meat, chops onions and tomatoes (do something) so that when the wife gets home she can start from somewhere and not feel like a slave who has to wait hand and foot for her husband.  Maybe my way of thinking is crazy but it would make the world a better place if people worked as a team.  Heck, women get tired too they are not energizer bunnies who just keep going and going.

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Image from Google

I know a man who is reading this and saying to himself “But I pay all the bills around the house and she doesn’t have to worry about the financial side of things”  Well yes, thank you for doing a great job mister, but it’s not always about the money.  It’s about the small things that make a woman feel a whole lot more appreciated for everything she does.

Our culture has a long way to go…  If by any chance a man is seen by his friends or relatives helping around the house (there are very few of these by the way) he is considered weak and chances are his wife fed him a love potion so that he can do as she pleases with him.  Wrong thinking right there.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with sharing tasks.  It actually makes for a better home and chances of getting more sex because “I am tired” won’t be featuring in the wife’s’ list of excuses.

Teamwork people teamwork!

But then again, I’m not married, what would I know about the ins and outs of a marriage?  It wouldn’t hurt to consider it though, I am sure your wife would be happy to see you do something to make tasks around the house a little easier.

What are your honest thoughts on this subject?  I know not everyone will agree with my line of thinking so I would love to hear from you.

©MaKupsy 2017

My Battle With Suicidal Thoughts

In our African Culture suicide is something people don’t openly talk about.  I would like to believe there are people who have gone through what I used to go through but never told a soul or perhaps went on to carry out the act of suicide because they had no one else to turn to.  This is not an easy post for me to write because I know it will open old wounds and raise eyebrows but I feel it’s a story that needs to be shared and hopefully help someone who is probably contemplating suicide.

I have three close friends and I have told them about my battle with suicide thoughts.  It wasn’t something I just woke up one morning and decided to share with them; I had to make sure I could trust them with my dark side and have confidence that they would not ridicule me…I have always been a neat freak.  The state of my house reflects the thoughts in my head.  If I am in a happy and healthy space my house is sparkling clean.  If I am upset and overwhelmed then as you can expect my house will be an actual mess.

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Image from Pinterest

However, there was a time being a neat freak was not only about keeping my house clean.  It was my way of preparing to leave.  Why was I sticking around anyway, no one loved me, no one cared about me or believed in me so what wast the point of it all?  I thought to myself if I finally decide to end my life then at least people should come to a clean house and pack my things away without a hassle.

This happened to me for months on end. I would think about how I was going to go about it.  I walk to work and I cross a very busy street.  Some days I would contemplate throwing myself right in front of an oncoming car, other days I would think of jumping off from an office building and on the worst days I would think of getting run over by a train.  The one time I even asked my doctor friend if slitting my wrists would kill me.  I obviously asked in a round about way and when he told me it would send me straight to my death bed I had one more method to add to my list.  What made all these thoughts more real was all the suicide incidents that I would read about in the paper every other day and I would think to myself, why not; this will definitely end all my misery!  I was in a very dark space and what fueled these suicide thoughts were the obstacles that I kept facing; (heartbreak, unfulfilled dreams, low self esteem, no life purpose).  

The thing about suicidal thoughts is that you can’t go around telling people that’s what’s going on in your head incase they might think you have lost your marbles.  You will be fighting demons that you can’t see but can feel at every waking moment.  I had an injured soul and I took to many devices to try and cure it with no luck.  My friend used to complain about my “mood swings” not realising that they had more to do with my thoughts more than anyone in particular.  I could go for weeks, months on end without wanting to speak to her and some of my friends.  I just wanted to be left alone.  I withdrew from social media platforms, I even stopped going out but took to drinking alcohol instead to numb my thoughts.

From my experience suicidal thoughts come with depression which is unfortunately not acknowledged in our culture.  Tell most people that you are depressed and they will tell you to get over it.  I know you are reading this probably asking yourself why I didn’t talk to anyone about what I was going through.  Well, I did actually but I didn’t tell them the full details. What I got in return was “It’s a phase it will pass.”  Unfortunately this phase stuck with me from College days till just a few years ago when the suicidal thoughts finally left and set me free.

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Image from Pinterest

I would be lying if I tried to give you a formula on how to get rid of that heavy feeling you feel around your chest.  The thoughts of how you are worthless and how you are not serving any purpose on this earth.  The thoughts that suicide will make things right for you.  I don’t have that because for me I just woke up one morning and the dark cloud that had been hovering above me was gone.  I think whatever it was realised that it was putting me through unnecessary pain because with each day I was becoming more and more disinterested in life and I could hardly recognise myself.

Suicide is real.  I have seen friends take their lives over a heartbreak, people throw themselves off a building because of financial stress and wives burn themselves to death after finding out about their husband’s infidelity.  Before I experienced suicidal thoughts I mocked them and thought to myself who in their right minds would end their lives over things that could be fixed? I hadn’t walked in their shoes and it was easy for me to judge them.  I didn’t know that sometimes the thoughts in your head can be so bad you have to find a way to run away from them and suicide may be the only way out.  Now I understand that some people, me included will go through and have gone through some dark phases in their lives and unfortunately for some they will not live to tell their story but for the lucky few you get a chance at life again.

I am thankful that I never went through any attempt to commit suicide.  It all ended in my head.  Had I gone through with it I would have never had the chance to see my beautiful little girl.  I would have not seen how much of a positive and determined individual I have become and I would not have had the chance to write this and share this with you.

I am generally a bubbly individual. I have great days and not so great ones but my life experience so far has made me realise that we are all going through something.  It’s easy for us to forget to be kind to the next person but if you can be good to those around you.  You never know the difference your encouraging words or smile can alter their entire day.  Your positive energy may the the one reason they won’t go ahead and commit suicide.

In most cases of suicide a person doesn’t want to die they just want to stop the pain.

©MaKupsy 2017

#UrsulaChallenge

I have to be honest with you, when I initially started working out I never in my wildest dreams thought that it would inspire so many people around me.  It has been and continues to be an interesting fitness journey.  I created a WhatsApp group with amazing individuals and everyday we push each other do to better than we did the day before.  Within the group there are Fitness Instructors, Physiotherapists, Lawyers, IT Personnel, Secretaries, University Students, Bloggers…tell you what, the list is endless and the group is diverse.

The great thing about it is thanks to technology we don’t have to be all in one place to run, just a running application on your mobile device and you are good to go.  There are runners from the UK, Algeria, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa,Zambia, Zimbabwe.  Minus running we get to learn different languages, cultures and foods.  Okay, I will have to expand on this on a different day, for now let  me talk about the #UrsulaChallenge

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Flyer by @KingKGC (Twitter)

The last challenge we had, Taku won hands down.  We have a rule that whoever wins the challenge is the one who will choose what the next challenge will entail.  I decided to have a little twist to it because I realised that to keep the motivation alive runners who are improving need to get some form of recognition as well and so Ursula was the lucky runner to get chosen. She has been running with the team since October and she has outdid herself, even running after a long day when all she wanted to do was sleep.

There are a few additions to her challenge which are:

  • Participants are to weigh in on Monday morning or Sunday evening and have their weight recorded.

You are encouraged to weigh in at the same time you weighed yourself at the beginning of the challenge and to use the same scale.

The one who loses the most weight during this weeks challenge gets 15 bonus points.

P.S The weight loss is for those who have it as their goal to lose weight, if not please do not worry yourself with the weigh in.

  • There will be a cook off on the Rest Day of the challenge.  The participant who sends through a plate that has healthy  food options, is well presented and appealing to the eye will get 5 bonus points.

I hope you will take part in this challenge, trust me, if you are a fitness enthusiast you will completely enjoy it and probably come back for more.  All the best in the upcoming challenge team, and may the best runner win!

#UrsulaChallenge #RunWithFitnessBae

P.S We always use Nike+(read as being resistant to change) for the challenges but this time the rules are more flexible and participants can use Strava, Cardio Trainer, Adidas and NRC.

Share. Like. Join.

©MaKupsy 2016

Of Lobola, Weddings & Such

The moment a friend tells me that they are getting married I get very happy for them because for most women marriage doesn’t come easy.  If you meet a guy who loves you enough to wife you up then happy days.  In our culture you first pay lobola and then have a court wedding or white wedding or not, whatever tickles your fancy really but to be official you need to get the lobola thing going.  This is the part that baffles me the most…why do people make such a big secret of when their boyfriend will actually go and pay lobola for them?  I have three or four “friends” who only told me on the actual day their lobola was being paid.  It left me questioning our friendship.  If we are supposed to be that close and that happy for each other why would you tell me on the very day of your big day???  Someone help me understand why you would keep such good news away from your friend?  I have concluded that it’s their way of letting you know that you have been left behind in the world of singledom so they just want to give you a quick surprise for you before they carry on into their married life.

As the story continues…

Then we get excited about their wedding day if they go the white wedding route.  I help out when I can with the planning, the ideas for the venue, decoration; most of the time they complain about the in laws who are making things impossible, we go through dresses, we think of a playlist the whole shebang.  My phone is always on the charger because she needs help with this or that and we are constantly in touch.  It actually feels like my wedding by the time I go to sleep because of the levels of fatigue but I won’t be complaining because that’s what friends do right.  You help each other through good and bad times even though at this point I start feeling like an underpaid wedding planner. Hahahaha

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Anyways, the big day finally arrives and guess what has happened to me in the past for some of my “friends” weddings.

Friend 1. I was sent an invite to the wedding, oh happy days, even though I am not such a huge fan of weddings.

Friend 2.I got to be a bridesmaid for the first time and I had a fabulous time because the wedding reception was short and sweet and we wore some pretty delicious colours on the day.  Who would have thought purple and gold would rock?!

Friend 3. I never heard from her again.  A few days before her wedding she went cold turkey on me.  I knew the venue of her wedding which was out of town by the way but she never sent me a wedding invite so there was no way I was going to just rock up at her wedding uninvited.  I am not about that gate crashing a wedding life.  Some friend huh?

Enough about that let me get to the juicy bit.  So now some of my friends are married.  Remember we used to talk all the time?  I have noted that a few weeks after they get married they go missing in action.  I ask myself if they are happy, sad, overwhelmed, enjoying their honeymoon phase or just don’t want to be associated with a single someone.  Please do not get me wrong, I am not the jealous type but the I wonder what’s up type.  The moment they are married they just snub me and I never hear from them again.  Is it a thing that married women do or it’s a thing that I get dished out from my “friends” only?  Does marriage really take such a toll on an individual that you forget about your friends or at least those who considered you their friend?  Do you honestly expect me to respond to your message at the speed of lighting the moment you finally decide to communicate with me?

Like what the actual fuck is up with that??!!

I wonder…

©MaKupsy 2016

Shona Lobola Procedures

Roora (Lobola/Dowry)

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A man marrying a woman from the Shona culture has to observe the roora. This is a sign or show of love and affection when a man saves up and marries his beloved. There are many ways this can be done but I will dwell on the general procedures followed on the following condition  The man has done all the other necessities e.g. proposing (not musengabere, kutizisa), formal Introductions (dated for over 6 months) and more importantly girl is not pregnant (damage) or previously been married (virgin?).  In Zimbabwe, roora takes place in a number of stages and each stage has its own traditions and small amounts to pay. The process can differ from place to place due to the fact that in the Shona culture there are 12 different ethnic groups.

Stage One – Introduction

This stage involves the ‘munyayi’ who is a go-between when a man goes to pay the bride price at his future wife’s family stating to the family his intentions and purpose of visit e.g. “I have been sent by (the husband) to look for Sadza” , literally translated to I have come to marry your daughter (name). Here they are asked who they mean. Once this is done the bride’s family will ask the daughter if she knows the people who have come to marry her.

Stage two – Grocery

A list is given to the groom prior the ceremony, this will be a list of groceries required to bring to the family. The items are then checked and should match that on the original list for example, if its 5kg of sugar he should bring exactly that and not less.  Adhering to the stated requirements of the new in-laws is a show of respect from the new son-in-law. It is often advisable to do exactly as stated or better, to ensure smooth relations between the newly united families. Some families are more tolerant than others; A LOT of tolerance is needed as this is not a money making ceremony.

Stage Three – Preparations for payment

At this stage the bride’s family will ask for ‘ndiro’ normally a wooden plate from the munyayi and if he has brought one he would present it. This (the plate); in the past used to be provided by the bride’s family but since some people began charging for them some go with their own wooden plates.  Once the plate has been placed a process known as ‘sunungura homwe’ (loosening pockets) or ‘Vhuramuromomo’ (meaning opening of mouth) where a small fee is paid to for the greeting of the guests. At this stage some fines may be imposed.  For instance if the groom failed to meet an earlier date even if he notified the bride’s family well in advance and any other misdemeanours he might have done, These however should done with humour and laughter just to make the ‘munyayi’ feel at home and comfortable.

Stage Four–Payments

The process of Roora negotiations can be long and complex, and involves many members from both the bride’s and the groom’s extended families so these days due to our busy nature in some parts it being shortened and made less complex. The payment stage has quite a many stages which can even take days to complete. These are now grouped in two main sub processes which are:-

1.    Zvireverere zvaBaba (Gifts for the father)

This stage involves payment that are direct from the bride’s father (a guardian or representative can accept charge for these if the paternal father is deceased or not known) which in the old days had a lot of very long sub-processes and has been shortened. The main payment is the ‘Matekenyandebvu’ to acknowledge him for “the pulling of the beard” as she sat on his knee, or putting up with the playful antics of his daughter as a child. The amount paid for the father is negotiable.

2.    Zvireverere zvaMai (Gifts for the mother)

Same as the process above the payment are strictly for the bride’s mother (a guardian or representative can accept charge for these if the maternal father is deceased or not known).

The gifts for the mother of the bride in the old days included things like ‘mbereko’, for carrying the bride in a pouch or sling when she was a baby, and ‘mafukidzadumbu’ for covering of the belly; this is alternately translated as “carrying the baby in the womb” or “tucking the baby in with a blanket (when she wakes in the night)”. These are now charged under this blanket term due to the complexity of the past processes as well as the fact that people may have even forgotten exactly the names of the processes. The amount paid for the mother is non-negotiable.

Stage Five – Mbudzi yedare (yemachinda) Goat

This is a live goat that is brought by the man and is slaughtered during the payment process. The whole goat is then cooked and made ready to be served after the completion of the ceremony. If they don’t bring a goat a payment will be asked for and this money is shared equally between all the boys available at the household (usually can cause a lot of commotion if the amount is not even).

Stage Six – Musikana/Tete (Gifts for the bride)

The woman being married is required to pick some money from the plate for herserlf.  This money in some places can be set by the aunt or the woman’s sister. This is a small allowance for ’Mari inonhongwa nemusihare’ for the purchase of household or cooking utensils, and this amount is given to the bride. If there are younger sisters or siblings, she may give them a portion of the money. This money is for all the cooking that would have taken place for the party which the groom will finance after the ceremony is concluded. Usually this money can be returned by the woman to her future husband to cover the other payment that would follow.

Stage Seven – Rusambo (Roora, Dowry)

This is the most important stage called “Rusambo” and although the above process is referred to or called “roora”, this is the name given to the whole ceremony and all of the gifts, not just the bride price or dowry. Paying Roora is called ‘kubvisa pfuma’, giving (or parting with) wealth. Roora is wealth and its quantum must be consistent with wealth. This stage can only be reached if the stages mentioned above have been fulfilled. The bride price varies and nowadays factors in things like the social class of both the groom and the bride. This however can be paid as a part payment as long as some form of payment is made. For illustration purposes maybe the above processes may have cost the groom $1400 and he had only brought $2000 it is accepted for him to pay $600.00 and then the rest will follow for the next twenty years. If the groom fails to come up with any part payment then the whole process becomes null and void and will have to be started again at a later date and he will not be give his bride.

Stage eight – Danga (Livestock)

This stage traditionally is a gift of cattle and nowadays it is most commonly paid in cash, although the amounts will still be representative of fair market price for cattle.  Normally the number is between seven to eight cows and in those the most important one is the one for the mother known as ‘mombe yeumai.’ This should always be a live cow that the groom gives to the mother in law.  The cow is expected to produce an offspring as proof that the union has been blessed, also our belief the most powerful ancestors that protect us are the maternal ones.  ’Mudzimu wamai ukadambura mbereko’ (if maternal spirits let go) spells disaster.  To keep these spirits happy and attentive there is need to follow the ‘mombe yeumai’ protocol to the letter.  To to give ‘mombe yeumai’ is to acknowledge this spiritual symbolism. Once the offspring is weaned it is then expected that the cow can be slaughtered by the bride’s family and eaten by both families just as thanks giving and strengthening both the couple’s relationship as well as the family as a whole.  This will take place after two to five years. This stage is dependent on the Rusambo stage and if Rusambo is not available then they cannot proceed to this current stage.  In old times ‘pfuma/roora’ consisted of cattle, ’mapadza’ (symbolic iron hoes) and ‘machira’ (imported cloth) as indicative of a rich agricultural community.

Stage Nine – Majasi (Clothes)

This stage also dependent on the Rusambo stage.  It is the gift of clothes that the groom is expected to buy for his in-laws. As stated after Rusambo has been paid and the bride’s family are happy the groom and his party will then be invited and welcomed into the family ‘Kupinzwa mumusha’, the groom will then greet the in-laws as a new groom (no longer a prospective groom or stranger, but a member of the family) with the special traditional clapping greeting ‘Gusvi’ and is permitted to be a part of the household. At this stage he will be given a list of items of clothing that both the mother and father require normally full attire from top to bottom.

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N.B Lobola Groceries vary from family to family but the standard grocery list is:

Cartons or boxes of:

Rice
Hupfu
Meat
Cooking oil
Tissues
Soap
Drinks
Flour

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Photo Credit: Blessing Mutinhiri

 

This article was written by Richard Chashamba Thank you very much for the information you shared with me, I hope someone will have a clear view of what the Shona Lobola Procedures comprise of and not be in the dark like I was.  This was very a very insightful article.

© MaKupsy