her story.. our story.. everyones story…

Letters to myself (#1): the love handles edition

For most part of my life I’ve pretty much been an active person.I don’t remember having issues with my personal appearance. I was content. And that was all I needed.. 

Fast forward to present day me.. I seemed to have changed the script. I recently got a hold of a photograph taken of me about 2 weeks ago and my heart sank… 

So many “why’s” automatically came to the fore… 

 Why had I let my tummy / love handle department extend and get more rounder? Why did I do this to myself .. Why did I stop jogging ?? That cake and chocolate!! Why Pam why?? 

Flip side to the “why’s” I had another question…. 

Since when?? 

Since when did I not love me for me? Since when did I care about what others thought re: my body image. Since when did I impart negative words onto myself because of something so small?? 


Although I should definitely do something about the extra centimeters.. I dare not take myself down some nasty road of self loathing .. As women we tend to do that for the silliest of things ..

Life is too short for that .. 

Gentle reminder to self : 

Self you are LOVED . you are BEAUTIFUL . you are ALIVE and HEALTHY … You are writing your OWN story and as you turn each page, don’t mind the little irrelevant sillies (because they won’t matter) . Create amazing chapters. When you look back at where you’ve come from, you’ll be glad you lived loving yourself in whichever season you were in.. 

(the pic below is what inspired this post .. Lol) 

 I’m curious though.. Do you (dear reader) ever go through such random phases with your body?? I would definitely love to hear your story…  



For water’s sake.

women fetching water. Source: pintrest

Iwe Mai Taku wake up , muka iwe (Mother of Taku wake up )”. She reluctantly woke up knowing why her husband was cutting her sleep short.  “Mxm”, she swore under her breath, as it was only 3.30am.

This was a routine she was more than familiar with. Shortages of basic commodities was nothing new to Mai Taku. Seasons gone by the whole country endured shortages of fuel, food and even money. Never did she imagine she would be enduring the same fate for the sake of water.  Things were definitely going downhill for everyone.

Mamuka here askana  tiende kumvura ?” (are up now ? We need to go and fetch water) she texted Beula, her next door neighbour knowing fully well that neither of them could afford the luxury of sleep this early morning. Armed with buckets and several empty Mazowe bottles the 2 ladies walked down the road feeling secure as it looked as though the whole of Mabvuku was headed the same direction, in search for their daily ration of water. Those that stayed in the lower lying areas were lucky – water was always available, be it a trickle – they were lucky to have that precious gold.

They were guaranteed filling up a drum or maybe even two on a good night. It’s been 2 hours and the women where nowhere close to the community borehole.  Time is moving and the queue in front of her seemed to be growing much longer instead of the other way round. Everyone knew that the only way you could be guaranteed  water easily was to pay a bribe to the “officer” – a mere security guard who lived to parade his power over the community  borehole. It paid to be nice to him but it paid much more if you spoke his ” dollar for 2 buckets ” language.

Today the borehole seems much harder to pump. “Could it be that water in the ground is finishing too?” she muttered to herself. Questions like that were taboo – what would happen if ever the borehole dried out? She could not afford to think such reckless thoughts. “That Jojo tank , aya. .. If only..” automatically stopping  herself from basking in the  thoughts of a better past life .. “mxm” she concluded, as swearing under her breath had become her momentary  relief to her problems. Walking steadily back home her bucket carefully yet effortlessly balanced on her head the 2 women carefully planned their day which coming back to the borehole had become a great part of. “its life, ndogodiniwo“. (what could “I” possibly do”) she muttered to herself.

Tired, she neatly placed the water in her kitchen corner , “at least Ba’ Taku (father of Taku) will have water to drink today”, she smiled, as her presence in her home automatically opened up responsibilities that being a woman could never escape.

copyright : pam bulawayo 2017

vive le difference! !!!

vive le difference” 

“vive le difference! !” 

” vive le difference. …!!!!!! “

This is something I have struggled with all my life … Embracing my unique self.”

Growing up I was urged to be like xxxxxx  (yes! no names) or be like xxxxxxxxxxxxx. The version of me never felt good enough, there was always someone doing “me” better than myself .

(side note : now that I’m older and a tad bit more mature, I understand things from my parents point of view.. It was all in the spirit of challenging me – make me better what-not  what-not) 

Fast forward some 20+ odd years … We have all been told and urged to be, think and act the same (the media, education , society , tradition). Where being different is not easily welcomed. In some cultures, embracing something out of the norms is viewed as taboo. 

Hahaha enter the late 90’s hit song by Koffi Olommide titled  “Loi” and the then raunchy ndombolo dances!! My mothers (yes, in Africa we have more than one mother.. your auntie and most female elders automatically become your mother) almost had a fit – apparently if you danced like that…. you definitely belonged in the prostitution ring. 

Lets not even talk about maRasta (dreadlocks and the lifestyle associated) 

Gosh. … I’m getting side tracked :/ 

Thing is …. We are all different. I’m me and you’re,  well, you.. that’s how special we are. That’s the most unique and special thing about us all.. 

It’s a shame it’s only hitting home now. It’s been a process of self realisation, self re-love (I learnt to love myself in the most vulnerable of situations), getting aquainted with myself.

Life is too short to be living in someone else’s shadow. it’s too short to be #2 … yet we can all be #1 in our own right and might. Besides, we are worth that extra self love … that self appreciation. .. 
Run a race that’s uniquely yours … whatever the outcome I say to you …. WELL DONE!  

whoop whoop to 2016!

It’s been an amazing year! And if you’re reading this, both you and I are blessed to have seen it through!!
Personally this year was dedicated to placing more structure in my life, letting go of the past and taking up new responsibilities. It’s been good, although I should add that I am not where I was hoping to be in terms of my goals but I am where I am I suppose – goal still in sight 🙂 
As for you, you and YOU! A mighty big thank you for reading this blog and keeping me strong … It really means a lot to me.. 

2017 …. well I pray we all kick-ass in whatever we set our hearts to doing …. 

The sky is not even the limit …. possibilities are endless! ! 

hugs and kisses.. 


Truth beyond the river

photo cred : Pintrest. 

“okay mamma. … okay” Rudo sighed as her mother continued to speak over the phone. Slowly, Rudo drifted, her thoughts leading to worries, leading to more questions than solutions.

Her mother went on talking, telling her about life on the other side of the Limpopo river. She knew how their brief call would end – with a slow and seemingly painful sigh followed by Rudo asking how much it would cost, whatever “it” was this time around. With no tangible source of income, “I will make a plan mamma, I will make a plan” became an anthem to all of her mother’s requests.

She came to the city of gold two years ago. Together with the little luggage she could fit in her Monarch suitcase, she carried the promise and hope of a better life with better prospects not only for her but her aging mother back home.

With no work permit in hand, work didn’t come as easy as her friends promised. “Don’t worry Rudo!” she was told, “It will work out for you, zvichaita chete“. Job hunting days turned into weeks, weeks into months, months into reality – nothing came by.

Until one day relief in the form of Prakash came by. A handsome yet mature looking man whose looks however had nothing to do with his job proposal for Rudo. He wanted the one thing his wife had stopped giving him. Something more physically rooted yet affectionately barren. “It’s our secret”  he would say to her as he placed her services’ worth of money on the motel bedside counter.

“Damn you’re good”, were phrases she heard often while he lay on top of her. But words like those made her feel worthless and dirty from the inside out. Tomorrow he will be back, she reminded herself as tears fell down her cheeks. Tomorrow they would dance together in their rhythm less song and each come out victorious no matter the outcome.

If only her mother knew she was not the secretary she had said she was. If only her mother were there with her, maybe she could help take away the shame she felt so deep within her. Only then would she stop asking for money, maybe she would ask her to come back home…. Just maybe life would be like it was before she moved countries. Maybe. ..

But for now, her rouge lipstick and an expensive dress would brighten up the broken smile and hopefully cover up the shame of who she was fast becoming in this land of the unforgiving across the mighty Limpopo river.


It’s really cold here today.  As I walk down towards the beach I can only hope that today I’ll sell enough doilies to send money back home.

I’m foreign to these lands . Oh yes. I’m from a place they call Kadoma, a town in Zimbabwe that once boasted of producing a rich and yet rare cotton and we all donned with pride. A town that raised me to be the woman I am, one that never gives up in times of adversity and trials – it seems everyone is going through those nowadays. If it’s not money this, it’s money that. Even a day old baby sings her own tune of things already gone wrong in her life. Which is why I am here, trailing through the sandy beaches off the coast of the Natal, selling all I can sell for that extra Rand to secure a future for my children and myself.

They can tell I’m not from here. I’ve failed to click my tongue effortlessly as they do. The BCG  injection-come-branding on my right arm sells me away in an instant. “Mukwerekwere”, is what they call me and my people. Automatically I become a second class citizen in a nation even I don’t want to be in. They blame my people for they’re already high crime rates, for they’re lack of jobs, for everything gone wrong in their motherland. If only they could read my mind, they’d know that my heart beats solely for my homeland.

For 10 years I’ve been traveling up and down southern Africa.  Trading anything and everything that came my way. My husband was a truck driver. He too roamed through the busy southern African highways. Things were better then, my family lacked for nothing. They say he died of AIDS, a disease that has stolen so many lives in the blink of an eye. I don’t believe them though, I tell myself that he just died, of malaria, of a headache, anything but AIDS. Because the moment I believe it was AIDS, the strength I have gathered to face another day would crumble as I too, like my late husband, would have to look right into the eyes of death herself.

How I wish they could see my accomplishments as I walk their streets. I have managed to extend our house in the township of Rimuka. Now I can house lodgers and even get more money at the end of the month. My children go to government schools with everything they need, school fees comfortably paid. And what about me you ask? Well what about me, everyday that I  live with this illness that is slowly killing me is a gift on its own.

I head back with my wares to my shack. Only the hope of a better tomorrow gives me strength to bare the brunt of being a cross border trader. On my reed mat I lie, anticipating that dream that usually sees me as the king of my own castle, away from the clicking of a tongue that welcomes me with the back of its hand.

To be home again, to be king again.

Rio, a typical day.

At exactly 6 o’clock every morning, that loud siren goes off again. By then the morning shift workers should already be by their work stations, ready to wrestle their way through all that thick smog the Rio mine releases.

By then Mama has already gone to the refinery section of the mine. An hour ago, I heard her wake up grudgingly, mourning her loss of life to a routine she always promises to break the day one of us work hard at school, becomes a nurse and buys her a house in leafy Park-town, very far away from Rio.

That siren seems to have taken everything and everyone in Rio ransom. I no longer hear Mai Sithembile’s chickens next door in the morning, they seem to have resigned themselves to a higher force of society. The order of nature silenced. That loud noise plays so many roles in our lives we all seem to have surrendered to its silent commands.
I can hear her footsteps, Mainini is coming to wake us up,well me actually, I’m the only girl here. Nya is safe, and he knows it. The boys in Rio don’t have to do much except play, eat and play more. He winks his eye at me,a boastful reminder of the errands i have to run in the home. I swear at him under my breath. I remind myself that the day I’ll get that house in Park-town, all this will end. That day is coming, I can feel it with each day that that selfish siren goes off.

All the girls are up by now. I sweep the yard, clean the dishes and shine the already shining floor. At least I don’t have to cook porridge, Mainini has the pots and pans side of the house covered. Today, it’s mealie porridge with peanut butter, she is definitely in high spirits to serve us such a delicacy. Nya gives me a familiar talking eye that agrees with my analysis, if porridge is this good, what more lunch!

With all the chores done, I wriggle myself away from the grown women who by now have gossiped about half of Rios people. My heart is in the streets. I know where Nya and his gang are today. Its Tuesday, zvigure will be parading themselves in the streets.  Kille, my next door neighbor is rumored to be one of them. (Which is why we no longer borrow salt from them,its bad luck mama says) These masked men paint themselves with whatever they find but we all know they get their body paint at the Rio dump site – everything is free there. They ceremoniously drink their Zed before getting onto the streets, looking terrifying, ready to pounce on young kids and take them captive. Sadly today, Mainini has caught us before we watch the township carnival. Its obvious a good spanking awaits me and my partner in crime at home.

Its almost 2 p.m, that siren will soon be releasing Mama from her shift. By the time she’s home, we have to have bathed and I would have to make sure the already shining floor shines a bit more. She’s home!!!!! Its in the relief of the change in authority that makes her arrival more than special. We can officially do what we want in the home because Mama is too tired to watch over us. She just gets home and sleeps, recharging for her next shift at the refinery.

Now the time Nya and I have been waiting for. Its 3.30 p.m. ZBC tv has started. This is the only time we are guaranteed not to be up to any mischief. Life couldn’t get any better than this. From now until that man on the 8 p.m news starts to beat his drum TV will give us a well deserved break from life in Rio. One day, somehow, I’ll also be on TV,become a doctor and buy mama that house in Park-town. Only then life will truly begin.



He loves me…

Countless women suffer in silence at the hands of domestic violence ….. photo by Emmy Vester

Folding the uniform of her almost grade 7 going son, she can’t help but look back and day dream about the hopes they had back in high school. How great life would be for her -the car, the children, the job, the house and that amazing husband. A shy smile can’t help but creep up her face. Oh how her life was meant to be. As if by reflex, Mai Ru quickly surrenders her past years dream to the folding of her laundry. He’ll soon be here, she reminds herself as a drop of sweat drips down her brow as an emphasis of all that her husbands arrival brings with him.

In her early years in the marriage, Mai Ru learnt the art and magic of Black Opal. She welcomed its power, that of concealing the true story of a woman’s scar, pimples, black heads, uneven skin tone but more importantly the almost black yet purple eye that Ba’Mwana seemed to enjoy pasting on her fragile light skin toned face.

It’s because I’m the most beautiful woman he’s ever set his eyes on. She reassures herself, looking in the mirror, staring at the evidence of last nights debacle. Carefully pasting her low cost – yet highly effective – Black Opal foundation, Mai Ru reminisces that lustful day she met Ba’Mwana on her way to the salon. He was charming, sleek, funny, full of life. She saw a future with him from day one.

Even God seemed to have endorsed their union as the Jacaranda trees created a beautiful carpet of purple love everywhere they went together.
You’re beautiful, he’d always say into her eyes. Love and lust all masked in the throngs of passion between the two. Come to think of it, she could’ve sworn she saw that very glint of passion in his eyes a few days gone by. That dreamy smile returns again, only to be awakened by a sharp pain of a cut on her lower lip.

“Tino and Angie have gone to visit their Gogo!” , she shouts at the children at her gate waiting for her children to come out and play. At least they aren’t here she silently notes returning to her kitchen. Its not right for kids to witness the anger of their father demonstrated on their mother, they wouldn’t know which side to take. Memories resurface as she remembers how her own father would call her and her brother before he punished Amai for not giving him his favorite piece of meat. Now it was her turn, rightfully punished for doing wrong against Ba’mwana. She like her own mother, deserved every blow.

The gate is rustling, he’s here. Mai Ru quickly goes to the kitchen to ready Ba’mwana’s meal. Drunk as always, he hobbles into the house, mumbling some song he must’ve learnt at the beer hall. And as always, he isn’t in a good mood. She braces herself for what she already knows is coming.

“No Ba’mwana! Its not true! Please!!”  she has heard herself cry out so many times before. Its a bit different today, he’s accusing me of befriending Mai Tonde. She’s a slut! He says. Which automatically turns her into a slut. He can’t have a slut for a wife.  Expecting a candid yet familiar blow, she screams for help. Tears already falling to the ground.

As if he heard her, Ba’mwana stops and stares at her. He remains silent but she can see the evil in his eyes, growing with each second that passes. From nowhere, she feels a sharp pain burn yet sting across her back. Now all over her body. He keeps beating her. This time its barbed wire. He doesn’t stop, he wont stop. Over and over she bares the pain of a lover that she no longer recognizes.

He keeps at it still, as if beating her was the one calling he had in his life. Numb to the pain, the faces of her children are what keep her clinging to dear life. Pain fading, he still is at it. She drowns into a memory of good times gone by. Only in her subconscious, he can’t take away the love she still has for him. Only in that space, happy they are.

Its because he loves me, she reminds herself, carefully concealing last nights scars from a world that would never understand the love they have for each other.


For Victoria … you deserve better

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