Saturday, 13 October 2012
The African Dream
My parents’ homestead, our homestead, lies beneath a small mountain. This small mountain is called Chemazizi, which loosely translates to, “filled with owls”. At night you can hear them howling without shame. A meandering river lies to its left, a few meters away, roughly 30 meters. This river has got its origins in the mountain and ends into a nearby dam, a few kilometers away. Throughout the year its usual dry and experience flowing water during the rain season, actually if it’s a really good season because our village, Rutanhira, is part of Zaka district which is in Masvingo province, an area which falls in Region 5, a very dry and hot region.
Our homestead, has a big modern 6 bed roomed house, a thatched round house which served as a kitchen, a well, a henhouse; on the outer edge there is a shelter for goats and a cattle pen. It covers about 100 acres of land, mostly rock. It is also fenced using barbed wire. South of our homestead lies a huge tract of land, which basically is a bunch of farming fields for the village and it includes ours. North, lies much of the village, with the closest homestead about 50 meters away. These homesteads are sparsely separated and most of them are thatched with a few resembling the modern houses you will find in towns.
Our village is some 30 kilometers from Jerera growth point- which basically is a smaller version of a town. In between lay a countless number of villages. Connecting us with Jerera is what is left of the dust road after erosion; I can’t call it a road because of its miserable state. Jerera is where modern civilization ends, tarred roads, electricity, running water, health care and supermarkets; save for education and cell phone network access which is the same across the board. Jerera thus serve as our connecting point with rest of country and also as our “capital city”. To sum it up all, our village is remote.
I was home after a long period of time. After completing my primary education, I had been shipped to a catholic mission school, St Anthony’s Musiso High School, which is near Jerera and also happens to be one of the best high schools in Zimbabwe. I would come back during the holidays, usually a month.
After completing my ordinary levels, I changed schools and went to Pamushana High Schools which is much close to Masvingo, the city. It was also about the same time my parents bought a house in Masvingo, to make it easy for me and my siblings to access extra classes during our holidays and also prepare for exams. It became my sanctuary and I would rarely go anywhere else for the holidays. Having spent most of my childhood in a rural setting, I was enthused by the glamour of the city and the idea of spending more time at our rural home began to sound remote.
Soon, I finished my A-levels and enrolled with the Midlands State University of Zimbabwe, located in Gweru. While in university, my visits became sporadic and I remember spending more than two years without setting foot back home.
On this occasion I had spent more than a year and half; I had completed my degree and it was almost a year after finishing my degree. I woke up early in the morning; I had arrived in the evening, washed my face and greeted my father who was on his way out to a nearby school where he is a teacher.
At home it was just my father and I, with the rest having gone to boarding schools and my mother having gone to our city house. As my father left, my eyes followed him until I could not see him and in the path which he was using I could see school children in nice uniforms making their way also, to the school. I couldn’t help but remember the feeling, the feeling of hope and a better future. Education in this part of the world is highly regarded, and as such part of the stories you would hear everyday, are success stories about so and so who have become a doctor, an accountant with a big firm or someone who have gone overseas on scholarship. Almost everyone would give their all in their studies because they understand its importance. The success stories are everywhere and you can’t just ignore them.
As time passes there are no more students to be seen. It’s a sunny morning promising to be very hot in the afternoon. Being summer, no one would be working in the fields and there would be very few people walking around, it’s rather quite. In no time I start seeing people most of them going to fetch water at the borehole. Some of them notice me and are very happy to see me after a long time. A lot ask about whether I have gotten a job and the elders express displeasure at my long absence. One must not forget where you come from, is the advice that each and everyone keep telling me. Besides that the warmth of the people is refreshing and humbling, quite a contrast to the hustling and buzzing of the city.
I decide to stretch my legs and while also at it pay a visit to my grandparents, about 200 meters away. Within a couple of minutes I arrive. My grandfather, now late, is visibly excited and very happy. After exchanging greetings, I narrate the progress or the lack of, happening in my life. My grandfather explains to me that I should be patient because things will work out fine in life if you keep faith. We talk about a lot issues and eventually going back into history where my grandfather who himself had never gone to school, had taught himself to read and write and also how he had worked hard to make sure his children get the proper education in life- something he had done incredibly well.
My father being one the first teachers around, probably because it was the best career path available for black people during colonial time, my grandfather had not done a bad job. Also considering that almost all my uncles have gone to have their degrees and professional courses with one of them becoming a doctor, it was such an outstanding achievement considering their background. I just feel so privileged to have grown under better conditions with more opportunities.
The conversation became less serious. My grandfather was 88 and I, 24 years old. Despite him being old, he was sharp. I enjoyed a very good relationship with him and most would complain of his favoritism towards me, most probably because I was named after him. Time passed on and I had to go back home.
I went back home and spend the rest of the day listening to music on the radio. My father soon came back in the evening and we had supper. We discussed a lot issues that included economy, soccer and history. Eventual we went to sleep and as I lay in my bed, in my bedroom, I couldn’t help but reflect on the first day of my two week stay. While reflecting I realized a principle that I had forgotten for a long time, working very hard to achieve your goals despite difficult circumstances and never stop believing in a desired result. Looking at my own family, the people around who have made it despite extreme poverty, I thought this defines the African Dream-making it to the better life despite the odds.