≡ Menu

1997 in Zimbabwe, Part 4

This is the fourth in an ongoing series of posts that capture journal entries from my incredible trip to Zimbabwe in 1997. You can read more about my motivation for the journey and why I’m revisiting it now in the original post. I recently got all the photos from my trip digitized so this and future entries will have accompanying images.

Part 4
6/28/97, Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe
Jennie called me at Mark and Tony’s, she seems to be holding up pretty well compared to me. I cry every time I think about her. It’s hard to be so far away. Last night I told some cousins of Joseph’s that I had a boyfriend and that I lived with him. But I heard also that the CHIYSAP theater group has written a play about a relationship between two women. So maybe it isn’t such a big deal, but I probably shouldn’t say anything except to California Francis’ queer friends in Harare. One of them has already called the office, but I wasn’t there, we are playing phone tag (as best we can with the limited number of phones around here).

Home sweet home

Home sweet home, Florence and Francis' house in Zengeza 3 where I lived for 6 months

The Living Room

In the living room where we eat our meals. Florence, one of my hosts is third from the right. The other women are from CHIYSAP

When I first arrived at the house where I would be living for the next 6 months, it was in the company of about 10 people. The house is actually pretty big, but it is surrounded by a tall fence and all the windows and doors have bars and locks. For my first meal, we all sat in the living room with the television on. Clair, the youngest woman, went around on her knees and poured warm water over everyone’s hands (mine and the men’s, that is), all the women were in the kitchen helping to prepare the food.

I guess that I am deferred to as a man because I am a foreigner. I have not been asked to prepare food yet or wash anyone’s hands, I hope it will stay that way. I prefer more manly conversations since most of the women want to ask me silly things about America and tell me that they want to be a movie star or a musician. Last night at Joseph and Talita’s house, I talked with one of Joseph’s relatives about the place of women, religion and the Bible. It was actually more of a friendly argument since he is a very traditional Zimbabwean male. He thinks women do women’s work in the kitchen and with the children. Some women do wear pants here so I’ve been wearing my jeans. A lot of the women and girls who are involved in CHIYSAP are very progressive it seems, but some of the things I tell them about America still shock them.

So after the hand washing, my first meal in Zimbabwe proceeded. It was alright except for the chicken feet floating in a reddish sauce that was meant to go over rice and some extremely unattractive looking pieces of chicken. I haven’t had sudsa yet (the “staple food” of Zimbabwe, it is something like corn grits), I think I’m still getting the special treatment. After dinner I got to see my bedroom which is actually about the size of my room at home, with the same sized bed, except that I am sharing it with Anna, the ‘maid.’ I don’t think she is too happy with the situation. She moved her clothes out of the closet to make room for mine and now she has to share a bed with a snoring foreigner, oh well. She does most of the housework: laundry, cleaning and cooking, as well as taking care of Kuda the baby. I think she is also related to Francis.

Additional food/drink notes: Bread and butter with jam is served for lunch, snacks and appetizers. It is just plain white bread, like Wonderbread at home. I do enjoy the beer. Castle Lager is like Budweiser here. Everyone drinks it and drinks a lot of it.
Continued in Part 5

{ 1 comment… add one }

Leave a Comment