I first met Molly, my childhood friend, at a very young age; we went to the same primary school in Phelandaba, before wealth separated us during the four years of secondary education. She went to a private school run by a church thatwas expected to produce leaders of the industry and country while I went to a government secondary school that was well known for producing trench diggers and kombi drivers.
Molly and I grew up like sisters, and we used to talk about what we wanted for our future. I wanted plenty of children and she wanted none. She lost her mother during her birth and her father and stepmother brought her up. Although she told me that she got on well with her stepmother, she was not keen of having a
family, especially getting pregnant herself.
One thing that wealth failed to do was to make us enemies and we caughtup again as we both enrolled at Gweru Teachers’ College in Zimbabwe, for our secondary school teacher-training course and we lived in the campus. The fact that we spoke the same mother tongue, kept us even closer as most of the students at college spoke Shona and we both spoke Ndebele.
Molly came from a fairly rich family. In those days, when one were driven to college by their father in his own car, battered or not, they were considered to come from a fairly rich family. Poor Molly, her father would drive and drop her at the doorstep of the dormitories. So she would not meet her boyfriend, Dol ar, until her father had left the college campus.
In my case my mother would have wanted to get into a kombi with me to take me to Erenkini, the main bus terminus to catch a chicken bus that would take me to Gweru town, but I would kindly ask her not to worry and assure her that I would be fine, but mainly because Ice would be accompanying me. The so-called chicken buses were mainly used by rural travellers, who travelled with their chickens to give them to their relatives in town as gifts to soften and pacify their urban kith and kin for those few days while living with them. They would not want to be seen as taking for granted their relatives’ generosity; they had their pride to caress too. Coming to the city to live for free, hay’bo, no.
My mother did not meet Ice until I graduated from college. That was after he sent his people to meet my family and ask for my hand in marriage. My mother and relatives were not expected to meet my boyfriend until he was ready to marry me. Boyfriends were exactly that, boyfriends. What would they meet a boyfriend for? I was not expected to have a boyfriend in the first place, therefore my family only met Ice when he proposed. They would only meet someone who was serious enough to marry me, not a boyfriend, not a half rotten marula fruit. My mother used to warn me that I should be careful with boyfriends; I should pick them as if picking ripe amaganu, marula fruits on the ground? Some would be appetising on the eye, but inside, rotten to the core.
Molly met her husband Dol ar at college. He spoke Shona and most of their conversation was in English until she learnt how to speak Shona. Dol ar did not even attempt to learn to speak Ndebele, just like most Shona speakers, they find Ndebele difficult to learn. To speak Ndebele one has to click, that put off most Shona speakers from even trying to speak the language, as if they feared to accidentally bite off part of their tongues in an effort to click.
When Dol ar proposed and met Molly’s parents and family, they were not happy about their daughter marrying a Shona man. There was a general belief in Matabeleland that Shona men did not marry Ndebele women for life. Young Ndebele girls, intent on marrying Shona men, were warned that retired Shona men, who live in urban areas, would retire to their rural homes to live with their Shona younger wives. Sally Mugabe, saw it first hand.
Molly and I often laugh at how Ndebele-Shona marriages are viewed back home. It is similar to how white-black marriages are viewed in the United Kingdom. Both sides feel that the other side is up to no good. White-black marriages more often than not fall apart. Many of them are sham marriages in any case, meant to regularise Home Office papers, and gain permanent residence in the United Kingdom. The problem with those marriages though, is that they produce real victims, abantwana bamaphepha, paper children, when their parents divorce some years later. Beside these marriages of convenience, black-white marriages seem to fail for other reasons, just check how many single white mothers are left fending for their offspring when the black man had done a Bolt.
When Molly first moved to the United Kingdom, she lived in London and once we established our contacts, she moved down south to Bournemouth. It was easy to attract her down south. I invited her over to come and visit me in Dorset and took her to places like Bournemouth beach, Old Harry Rocks in Purbeck, Dancing Ledge in Swanage, Hengistbury Head in Christchurch, New Forest in Hampshire and many more attractions and she fell head over heels in love with beautiful Dorset. We soon became neighbours again and supported each other in a foreign country.
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