Age of Zinc is proud to present the third installment in a new memoir from the slums of Harare, Zimbabwe. Check back every week to catch the next part of the story!
Back in the rural area, in 1985, we started cutting grass to re-roof one of the rooms. A neighbor offered to do the thatching of the house for free. We were living with my father’s brother’s wife. My father’s brother offered to look after us for a year, and to pay our school fees. He also offered to plough fields for us during this year. Other people in the community helped with maize. My father’s father had died a long time ago.
My mother’s family lived close too. Their land touched the boundaries of our kraals. We could see the houses. But she was not able to support us. 1987 was the year that I completed my grade seven. During that year my grandmother passed away.
I completed my grade seven and did well but there was no money for me to continue to study for O levels. If my parents had money at that time ….
So after grade seven, I came back to the city to be a domestic worker. My time in school had not been good because of the war. I came to Harare to work. I did this for my brothers. The little that I got I paid was for my brothers’ school fees and to pay for some groceries.
Harare during that time was good. There were many things that were available. There was a type of bread called lobels – it was good bread. People moved around selling this bread with the motorbikes. You could tell it was this lobels because of the smell. Then there were deliveries of milk from the dairy board. The delivery men had carts with bells.
I started working in Kuwadzana and then went to Greendale. In Kuwadzana my boss was a tailor and her husband worked in a garage. In Greendale I was working for a teacher. The little money I was getting was useful. I could buy my clothing, my brothers’ school fees, and sometimes some groceries for them (soap, cooking oil). My brothers, they lived by farming.
The house in Kuwadzana had seven rooms. My boss rented three rooms out. It was her own house. She only had two kids. I slept with the kids and we were eating together. I was not very grateful because I wanted to be in school and do my O levels. I was forced by the situation to become a domestic worker. I told myself that there was nothing I could do.