My journey to the Motherland - Reality - Part 2

Society & Culture | By Veronica Makunike, Child Care Supervisor | 09 May 2015

(The second installment of a two part series - Read Part 1 - My journey to the Motherland - Perception)

My son enjoyed interacting with the livestock, chasing goats and even chickens. He was in his element.

Simon’s uncle was the character that brought me on a tour around his rural home; I asked him if he liked living there even though his enthusiasm suggested he couldn’t be happier. He said to me “did you see that large bank in the city of Harare” I replied in the affirmative. He told me he worked there all of his life and lived in the city centre. He actually chose to move to the rural area when he retired as he felt life was easier in the rural area. I thought he was crazy. I looked around at the crop he had to grow and maintain all year and the livestock he had to feed, the well that he had to collect water from and the fact that his toilet was outside and non-flushable. He asked me “Do you enjoy going to work every day and spending all of your money on bills?”. He had a point. He told me how money was rarely needed for his life in the rural area as his livelihood was home-grown. His house was built on this land which they claimed generations ago and it owed him nothing! He took pride in planting his own crop watching it grow and feeding his family with it. He said he would never trade the rural life for the busy city life. “The more money you make the more money you spend” he had a very valid point!

The three weeks we spent in Zimbabwe were the fastest three weeks! We juggled between touring different attractions and visiting the many relatives and friends of Simon. We visited the Eastern Highlands, Nyanga, Mutare, Vumba. This area reminded me of the windy Irish Cliffs of Moher, so cold but breathtaking!

The British influence was very evident in some of the places like Troutbeck Inn but the large open-fire comforts were appreciated.

The highlight of our touring was definitely Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls! They were out of this world! I thought that these famous falls were just an attraction of their own but never realised that it’s a town with so many experiences to offer. I was impressed with how the people are managing to maintain the natural look of the falls and how there are little man made aspects to it. We went with our son but we were so fortunate he was sleeping in his stroller through the entire visit as it is quite rocky and can be slippery from the mist which comes from the falls. We found it so amusing that as we walked through the town, baboons and monkeys were also just randomly walking around the town. Simon bravely did the bungee dive from the Victoria Falls Bridge and together, we did the safari through Hwange National Park. We went on a sunset cruise through the Zambezi and witnessed hippos swimming in the water while crocodiles basked in the sun at the bank of the river. One of the nights we went for the traditional “Boma dinner”. This was an experience in itself and will definitely return!

For anyone who goes to Zimbabwe looking for some traditional Afrikan activities this is on the top of the list of things to do. From stepping off the bus to being welcomed by men and women in grass skirts and fire torches, being led into an open garden, being clothed with an Afrikan style dress, having patterns painted on your face and then to relax while a band plays Afrikan beats and then to feast on an all-you-can-eat buffet filled with game meat, this was such an experience! People from all around the world gathered here and some bravely took part in learning some traditional dance moves. Each person at their table was given a drum to beat per instruction of the head of the band. It was so much fun.

Our family had such a great time. My son even adjusted to not sleeping in his stroller and slept on his aunt’s back instead. There were a couple of cultural differences I had witnessed in my time in Zimbabwe which I embraced and enjoyed. I take my hat off to the women of Zimbabwe; life is so busy for them. I participated in the chores to get a real sense of what it is like to live there and realised that we have it much easier back home! Hand-washing clothes (yes including jeans, jumpers, bed sheets etc), using brooms as sweeping brushes (those brooms we buy every Halloween for dress up are actually used to sweep carpets!), cooking in time before the electricity cuts off.

Other differences that stood out to me are the traditional ways of greeting, it’s like here when someone sits and relaxes and you begin by saying “so how are you anyway?” or “how’s things?”, but makadini is said in Shona along with a handclap. Of course there are also the eating habits, Zimbabweans eat their traditional staple food sadza with their hands so it is courteous to bring water to those who are visiting and to help them wash their hands before eating their dinner.

While there were a few differences I noticed in the culture I also thought there were a few similarities, like the humour of Zimbabweans. I think it’s very similar to Irish humour as we always use a “break the ice” tactic when meeting someone new as we speak in a light hearted manner. The people I met were so friendly and so welcoming. Also the neighbourly way that people are there for each other is something that may not be as evident in Ireland now but the old rural Ireland, had similar practices. I was sad to come to the end of my trip as I had enjoyed the people I met and the activities we did. My son and I enjoyed the energy of our family with the loud music and constant singing. We couldn’t have asked for a better reception and an even better family!

(Read Part 2 - My journey to the Motherland - Perception