The 24th of September is formerly known as Shaka Day in KwaZulu, a day where the Zulu people commemorate the legendary Zulu king; a day the Zulu clan felt was worthy of becoming a public holiday. Unfortunately, the new South African Parliament thought it best to omit Shaka Day altogether from the Public Holidays Bill. The decision was a source of conflict as the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) which has a predominantly Zulu membership, objected to it. A compromise was reached and thus the birth of Heritage Day. The need to preserve Shaka Day by the Zulu people showed how they valued their heritage and individuality, a principle that inspired a nation with diverse cultures to celebrate both their individuality and shared cultures too. South Africans were given a day where they could celebrate their uniqueness, but also appreciate the beautiful melting pot that is their nation.
Former President Nelson Mandela stated; “When our first democratically elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation.” Heritage Day is a recognition that having so many cultures coexisting in one country has the potential to divide; so rather than focusing on what makes us different, why not celebrate all the things that unite us despite our differences?
The purpose of the day according to the South African government’s website is; “Heritage Day on 24 September recognises and celebrates the cultural wealth of our nation. South Africans celebrate the day by remembering the cultural heritage of the many cultures that make up the population of South Africa. Various events are staged throughout the country to commemorate this day.”
Taking on this stride makes the Rainbow Nation an example for the African continent that mirrors the country in the vastness of cultures. The relevance of this day this year is elevated by the past alarming and dividing transgressions over the past few months besides the Covid-19 pandemic.
A few months ago we saw Miss South Africa hopeful Bianca Schoombee under fire for racist comments which she tweeted as far back as 2014. The 21-year-old model’s odds were promising until twitter ‘investigators’ found the controversial tweets.
Schoombee’s online trail points to a possible issue with the youth’s perception of those who are different from their peers – the very opposite of what Heritage Day seeks to accomplish. It is concerning to say the least, to think that some South Africans are fostering such a negative mentality.
As we mull over these counterproductive sentiments, let us look forward to the braai culture that has been tied to National Heritage Day. Many can argue that there is nothing more South African than lighting up a fire and having a good old fashioned braai. The National Braai Day initiative was developed by Jan Scannell, who believed in it so much that he quit his job in finance to focus on this initiative.
Happy National Heritage Day, let us come together and celebrate our vast cultures this Braai Day.
Below: Heritage Day Picture Exhibition showcasing South Africa’s rich and diverse cultures.
Our Heritage Month Video pick:
#EndSARS – A Reflection By Rorisang Moyo
Many report being stopped at random and being harassed for owning iPhones, as that is an indicator that they may be engaging in criminal activities.
Imagine telling a waiter that there is something wrong with the food, and instead of changing it, they spit in it! That is the summary of the Nigerian experience at the hands of the police.
#ENDSARS is a decentralised social movement against police brutality in Nigeria. The purpose of SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) was to curb criminal activity including robbery, motor vehicle theft, kidnapping, cattle rustling and firearms. I say ‘was’, because their behaviour is contrary to their intended purpose.
SARS operate while dressed in civilian clothing. They are notorious for harassment of civilians and abducting them.
The first question one asks is that, “If the goal of these law enforcement agents is to protect civilians from themselves by regulating their behaviour and making sure that they comply with the law, why is their method one where they have to ambush them?” If something is a crime in a country, surely it is not a secret, and everyone must know the consequences of crime. The role of law enforcement systems in any functional country, is to regulate people’s behaviour. It is a fact that people are inherently animalistic, but even the jungle has rules.
The work of SARS, while it sounds ridiculous, appears very intentional in its execution. It is heavy-handed towards young people and women. When a young man is seen in designer clothing, he is sure to be harassed, and has to explain how he can afford what he is wearing. Many report being stopped at random and being harassed for owning iPhones, as that is an indicator that they may be engaging in criminal activities. One woman reported being slut-shamed for owning a car. SARS asked how she can afford a car, and accused her of being a sex worker.
In a world where we are still actively trying to be politically correct by respecting all professions without imposing conventional morality, slut-shaming a financially independent woman is an insult in this modern age. It reveals the rot in our system, where a man is seen as a woman’s door to success. Furthermore, is a person supposed to dress badly to fit in the role of being poor?
No self-respecting criminal uses an iPhone because there is too much admin that is involved in using an iPhone. One needs a phone that they can actually get rid of, a phone with the basic functions of just calling and texting. No internet. No camera. No fingerprint what-what. There is a reason why experienced criminals use burner phones guys!
When Nigerians eventually protested against the violent manner in which the law was being enforced, the response was… even more police brutality!
Is it an African thing; must the person of colour’s relationship with law enforcement be one characterised by tyranny and fear? The police are not your friends. #ZimbabweanLivesMatter was about the same thing. It was a whole country begging law enforcement to protect them. Unarmed citizens begged to be respected. What did they get in return? They were thoroughly harassed, and some prominent figures, particularly journalists like Hopewell Chin’ono, were arrested. Charges like incitement of violence were fabricated. Chin’ono was asked to stop speaking out about the reality of his country as he saw it, and he was arrested again.
It is public knowledge that the laws we have today are an aberration of the same laws that came to us on a ship and were used to oppress us. Now, our African police, in their Gestapo-like manner, are recreating the same oppressive atmosphere of colonial times.
The law during colonial times was a symbol of where one existed on the social ladder. The white man up to today can even shout at the same policeman who thoroughly beats up Tapiwa, and makes him apologise to them. The black man who experiences true justice under the law, is a black man with money, or the black man with friends who can engineer their own justice.
#BlackLivesMatter was trending, and our African presidents, in their true audacious fashion, called out police brutality in the United States. Once again we had to sit in our living rooms and bite our tongues, as we watched our African fathers beating us up at home, then going on to preach about violence to strangers.
Are these the growing pains of a relatively young democracy? Is there a country that can truly stand up and say that they have a perfect democracy? The US, which had a head start at democracy, is still suffering from systemic racism, which manifests itself through the way justice treats the person of colour. Justice and the courts do not operate in a vacuum; they operate in a system of prejudices and misconceptions, that find their home in how we make assumptions about other people.
There is a reason why when one is assessed to be an attorney, a fit and proper test is carried out – to check if their morals and lifestyle are consistent with the expectations of law-abiding citizens. However, this test is not enough when free will comes into play, because we all come from different backgrounds, which may inform our prejudices.
Lastly, the profession of a policeman or a law enforcement agent, requires a system which encourages people to see serving in it as an honour, and not just an opportunity for glorified bullies to play with guns. It is imperative that people go into law enforcement, not as people who are trying to sneak up on civilians, but rather to foster a judicial system of accountability. A law enforcement agent has to understand that, it is through them that we learn to respect the law, not because we are scared, but because we understand why the law exists in the first place!
Connect with Rori via her Blog and LinkedIn:
Bride Price In The Modern Age, & Why Some Zimbabweans Say It’s Taboo To Marry in November
“…what I do have a problem with are the individuals who now treat lobola as a cash scheme; this is evident in many child-bride situations, where family members (typically the male leaders) see female children as a source of income.”
Over the past years, a lot of controversy has been raised over the African custom of paying bride price when a man marries a woman. This custom can be found in a vast number of African countries and tribes from the Ndebele, Zulu and Xhosa who call it Lobolo/Lobola, to the Shona who call it Roora, to the Arabs who also demand bride price for their daughters. In short, a lot of cultures practice this tradition. Its popularity points to its significance, as this practice dates back as far as the Iron Age. During this period, the bride price could be a hoe, which in those times was a very important tool that introduced farming.
According to writer, Kundai Marunya, “…centuries later, cattle became a viable means of payment, because again, most tillage was done using ox-drawn ploughs.” This shows us a pattern, a tone if you will; bride price was linked to genuine development, rather than the get rich quick schemes it has been turned into today.
Self-proclaimed traditionalist, Sekuru Conrad Muunze stated, “Our ancestors had very good reasons, and that is why lobola was done in stages, with different amounts charged on different items. They wanted their son-in-law to appreciate the process of bringing up a child… and in the process, have ample time to judge characters of the family their child is marrying into.”
The modern way of overcharging and seeing the bride price as a way of getting free money is a clear indication of the decay of culture and its abuse. As a young African woman who also identifies as an African feminist, I have been asked where I stand on the issue. My support of this culture left many confused; my understanding of lobola is that it is not only a way of fostering relations, but a token of appreciation from the groom’s family to the bride’s.
In the bible it states, “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24). Which is true, but also in essence, I will be becoming a part of my future husband’s family, and growing that family specifically. The bride price is appreciating the wife’s family for raising her, and in some cases, educating one’s wife; when you think about it, all that has been invested in me will be enjoyed by my husband’s family and him. The process in itself is introducing the two families and cementing those ties, and how the negotiations go sets the tone for future interactions.
According to founding member of the South African Men Forum and Gender Activist, Mbuyiselo Botha, “Lobola has nothing to do with buying, no one is being bought. Lobola has a particular cultural significance… people should look at lobola in its purest form, which is making sure families come together without being misconstrued”
I feel the feminist argument brought up by today’s interpretation of bride price is a bit misguided; yes, patriarchy exists, and this culture was fostered under its structures, but do not penalise the culture of bride price for the manipulation of its intent by men who are given this power by patriarchy. As an African feminist, what I do have a problem with are the individuals who now treat lobola as a cash scheme; this is evident in many child-bride situations, where family members (typically the male leaders) see female children as a source of income.
In these situations, the families usually aren’t interested in vetting their in-laws, or making sure their daughter is safe, leaving the door open to a mountain of issues where the girl child is denied education and is subjected to abuse of all kinds. It is usually the orphaned or abandoned girl child who runs the risk of experiencing such.
I disagree with statements like, “Lobola payment is a patriarchal system that puts men above us. It’s time to change that, let it go, and let a new era where both sexes begin their marriage and live on equal footing” by Nyarai Mashaya. It makes bride price seem like it’s about garnishing power over the other, which is an implied nuance based on misogynist ethics found in the structures of patriarchy.
It is sad to say, but some families overcharge in order to discourage suitors and control who their daughters marry; some try to discourage unions by refusing to participate. Others are just difficult and make this otherwise joyful time dreadful by manipulating the tradition. But these realities aren’t a highlight of lobola’s problem, but human intent. These days, women are now contributing to their own bride price; Zimbabwean socialite Olinda Chapel was reported to have given her spouse at the time, Stunner, the money to pay for her bride price.
A definite bold move that, yes, might have been made because of logical and sound reasons – I have no quarrel with that. However, I do see this possibly having lasting negative consequences which will probably rear their ugly heads in the light of friction/fighting. This move is usually seen as an act of desperation, and some say will affect the respect a man will have for his wife.
I am not saying women shouldn’t help out their spouses in such situations, but I am saying, be vigilant and weigh your own personal relationship, because it goes either way – really, really well, or very, very bad! At the end of the day, it’s all about preference; while I for one am for lobola (within its intended purpose), someone else isn’t. Someone else would have no problem paying for her own lobola, others do!
While on the topic of marriage and tradition, Zimbabwe is home to a traditional belief that no wedding or lobola negotiations should take place during the month of November. In some parts of Zimbabwe, the month is said to be so sacred that no traditional activities take place, with the exception of funerals, during this time. One might say this sounds like an old wives tale, but in reality, it is odd to hear of a wedding taking place in November in some parts of Zimbabwe. According to an article by Desire Ncube, it is claimed that during the month, everything with links to the spiritual and ancestors temporarily ceases to function.
Zimbabwe’s late Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, is one individual who disregarded this tradition back in 2011 when he married his second wife, businesswoman Locadia Tembo. The late PM found himself in hot water when he was summoned to appear before a traditional court by Chief Negomo of Cheweshe, located in the province of Mashonaland Central.
For his transgressions in the Chief’s jurisdiction, the late Prime Minister was fined two cows, two sheep, and ten meters of white fabric by the court. Locadia was also fined two cows, two sheep, and a goat for her part in the matter. We are living in the modern age, but traditions are still highly regarded. It all comes down to a balance, if I may say, between the two, unlike the call for extermination of either side. Our past guides us and our future shapes us further, whether we like it or not – and to fully serve us, a balance is necessary of each side.
Connect with Hazel:
LinkedIn: Hazel Lifa
Idayimana Emlotheni – Rachel Siziba Turns 100
Her secret to a long and healthy life lies in only one thing… her faith in God.
A Brief Look At The Biography of Rachel Siziba, Written By Dr. Trust Sinjoki
At 100 years old, Rachel Siziba is still very strong, healthy, does not walk with the aid of a cane, and still has near-perfect eyesight. She still does chores around the house, and enjoys watching TV with her grandkids and her great grandkids. Believe it or not, Rachel is still even able to exercise, running up and down her driveway every now and then.
Dr. Trust Sinjoki, an accomplished author who has 12 books under his belt, 2 of which were co-authored, was given the honourable task of writing Rachel’s biography, which was launched on December 12th 2020, the day Rachel celebrated her 100th birthday. ‘Dr. Sinj’, as he is popularly known, took some time over the festive holidays to tell us a little about what motivated him to write the book, and what inspired the name of the book, which would become the 13th book which he wrote.
In a country like Zimbabwe, where life expectancy is only around 61 years old, turning 100 is quite a huge achievement. How did you find out about Rachel Siziba, and when approached to write her biography by her granddaughter, what inspired your decision to agree to the offer?
I met Lindiwe, one of Rachel’s granddaughters, in Melbourne, Australia, where she is based, while I was there on ministry work in 2013. Lindiwe and I struck up a business relationship, as we were both training students from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, in a course to look after the aged (Aged Care Level Four Certificate), a programme of which I am the Director in Zimbabwe.
It is only around September 2020 that Lindiwe mentioned that her grandmother would be turning 100 years of age in December 2020. Lindiwe asked me if I would be interested in writing her grandmother’s biography, and after hearing the synopsis of the story, I found it extremely intriguing; and of course, I immediately agreed to the offer.
Excited by this offer, I got to work immediately, setting up several interviews with Rachel Siziba, meeting her for the first time, and spending hours with her, listening to her story and recording each and every detail, breaking down the biography into several chapters. Lindiwe and I debated on whether the book should be written in isiNdebele or English, and Lindiwe suggested that Rachel would enjoy it more if it is was written in isiNdebele, as they intended to read it to her, night after night, chapter by chapter. It was also decided that the book would later be translated to English, as most of Rachel’s grandchildren are in the diaspora, and are also very keen on reading the book.
The book is titled “Idayimana Emlotheni’, which is translated to mean ‘A Diamond In The Ashes’. How did you come up with that name, and what makes it so fitting to this particular story?
Searching for the title of the book was not a very difficult task, because what immediately struck me was the fact that, “Here is a diamond, which has been hidden under the ashes all her life, yet now she emerges as this shining bright star, that wakes up to live life to its fullest, at 100 years of age, and also guides her offspring through her wealth of wisdom.”
Rachel Siziba had a tough life from a very young age. Can you tell us about her early years briefly?
Rachel was born the eldest of five children in the Siziba family in Mberengwa, and she estimates that when she was around nine or ten years old, her father died, leaving his poor wife alone with five children to look after. Having been left widowed, Rachel’s mother was not used to the culture of being given her husband’s younger brother as her ‘replacement’ husband, because that practice did not exist in Filabusi, Matabeleland, where she hailed from. She therefore rejected that offer when her in-laws suggested it. When they tried to force it on her, she chose to leave Mberengwa, and went back to her rural home, leaving behind her four children, and only taking her youngest baby. Rachel was left to fend for herself and her siblings in the hands of this uncle who had been meant to take their father’s place, and he was extremely tough on them, and very, very, abusive. Every morning and evening her uncle would whip Rachel with a sjambok as punishment, for this reason or another, and Rachel tried to run away from Mberengwa to go to Filabusi to her mother’s village, quite a number of times, unsuccessfully. One time Rachel and her young brother were just about to arrive in Filabusi, after having run away and walked all night, when they were caught by their uncle and dragged back, kicking and screaming.
Can you briefly describe Rachel’s days as a young woman and the challenges that she faced? How did she overcome those challenges?
When she became a teenager, Rachel finally managed to run away to Filabusi, in search of a better life at her maternal relatives’ village. She moved in to her maternal uncle’s homestead, but unfortunately for her, things did not get better at all, as this uncle also found pleasure in abusing Rachel. As she became a bit older, she decided to give marriage a go, but she says that did not work out for her at all. After having five children of her own from different relationships, and not having gotten married to any of these men, that meant that now she was really in trouble, because she now had to figure out how she would look after her children. This period of her early life is what I refer to in the book as Rachel being a diamond which is being formed in the coals and ashes, under intense heat and pressure.
Over the years, her own children became parents as well, and eventually, Rachel now had nine grandchildren which she had to look after, on top of some of her own children who were not working. Fending for this large family was no easy feat, and Rachel says that is when her faith kicked in. She met some missionaries from the Lutheran church who instantly took a liking to her, and would assist in looking after her and her family. Her faith grew through the teachings of the missionaries, and that is when she says she started to see the hand of God in her life, especially in terms of provision.
Life got better for Rachel in her golden years. Can you describe to us how and when her life changed and she finally began to enjoy life?
Rachel’s faith was the key to her life starting to change. The more she prayed for her children and grandchildren, the more she began to see their lives change for the better, she says. Eventually, her grandchildren became educated and moved overseas. Lindiwe in particular, moved to the diaspora and was able to buy a house in the suburbs of Bulawayo, where her mother and her great-grandmother Rachel are now staying. In gratitude to her great-grandmother who looked after them through the toughest of times, Lindiwe makes sure that all of Rachel’s needs are taken care of.
Rachel watched her life take a three-sixty degree turn, and she went from moving around neighbours’ homesteads begging for food to feed her family, to being treated as the queen which she is at her granddaughter’s home. She has even become a tourist, and will fondly tell you of her visits to the Victoria Falls and to different wildlife parks, things which she could have never dreamt of before.
Rachel, at 100 years old, still has such a sharp memory, walks on her own without the aid of a walking stick, and can still see very well. Did she share with you the secret of how she managed to stay so strong and fit for so many years?
Rachel says her secret to a long and healthy life lies in only one thing… her faith in God. When she was younger, Rachel would move from village to village praying for people, and through that, she would see the wonders which God did through prayer such as healing people. Therefore, she says she never doubted that God would one day change her life for the better.
Besides living a healthy life and exercising regularly, Rachel says she thoroughly enjoys watching movies, especially Bollywood movies, and she says she considers most of them as parables which she uses to minister to people and to her great-grandchildren. Rachel also enjoys singing at church and again, she alludes that it is her faith which has given her the strength to keep going and to stay alive.
As an author, you learn a lot from interviewing the people you write about. What was your big take-home lesson from Rachel Siziba’s story?
Definitely, as an author, I have read, interacted with and interviewed a lot of people, but the one important thing which I noticed from interviewing this centenarian, is that Rachel is only but one example of many diamonds in the ashes in Zimbabwe, and in Africa as a whole, who are thrown away to die in the rural areas or in aged people’s homes, and yet packed in these elderly folks are stories that I, personally, as an author, would like to see being written and shared for the whole world to read. It’s really sad that in Africa, a lot of our elderly people are dying with their priceless wealth and treasure of historical stories. When I was in Australia, I visited the Holocaust Survivors Home, and I had the privilege of meeting and talking to a 106 year old lady and a man who were victims of the Holocaust, and they were telling me all about Hitler and how it was living during that time. It’s a good thing which is being done in countries like Australia to preserve history.
It saddened me that a few weeks ago in Esigodini, Matabeleland, a 115 year old man died, and had I known him before he died, I would have loved to meet with him and extract all kinds of information from him. Fortunately, I do have the privilege of visiting Ekuphumuleni Old People’s Home in Bulawayo every Sunday to sing with the elderly patrons there, and it always amazes me how even those that are approaching 100 years old are still so sharp, and there is so much gold hidden in these elderly gems. One can only wish to see more scholars, more authors, and certainly more grandchildren, as did Lindiwe, sponsoring and writing books about the lives of their elderly folks, and not letting them die with their wealth of knowledge and talents.
Rachel’s story is a moving story of someone who went from zero to hero, which also taught me that every cloud has a silver lining. Rachel teaches us not to give up during our struggles, because if you believe, some day things will change, and your diamond will emerge from the coals and the ashes and shine ever so bright.
To get a copy of Idayimana Emlotheni, to get more of his books, or to have your own biography written, Connect with Dr. Sinj. via the following platsforms:
PAWC Radio Zimbabwe, http://tun.in/sfxHb
Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu
Is History Important In Art? – Ntuthuko Mpofu Continues On His Journey Of Learning More About Art
I’m Afraid Of The Dark – A Poem by Tarisai Krystal Mhishi
Girl vs Fro: A Lazy Natural’s Guide to Conquering Wash Day
The DRC’s Youngest Commercial Pilot
Annemarie Quinn – On Moving to Malawi, & Her New Album, Blue Sky Thinking
Zana’Kay Talks About A Tribe Called Zimbabwe, & Why She Chose Architecture
Careers3 months ago
The DRC’s Youngest Commercial Pilot
Music And The Arts2 months ago
Annemarie Quinn – On Moving to Malawi, & Her New Album, Blue Sky Thinking
Features1 month ago
Zana’Kay Talks About A Tribe Called Zimbabwe, & Why She Chose Architecture
Lifestyle4 months ago
Mercedes Benz AMG G63 in all its Glory
Careers3 months ago
Women in Law – Tanveer Rashid Jeewa
Careers2 months ago
Women in STEM – Dr. Diana Kululanga
Careers4 months ago
Women in STEM – Marie-Ange Akaga Assonouet
Fashion & Beauty2 months ago
South African Designer, Busisiwe Shordy Nyembe, Talks About Her Trendy Brand, “#IKnit”
Lifestyle3 months ago
Uganda, The Pearl of Africa – A Photo Exhibition by Kagonyera Busingye
Fashion & Beauty2 months ago
Sandra Awino Odino – Talks About Being a Model & Entrepreneur in Kenya