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After being beaten I was expect-
ed to go out and interact and the
humiliation was just too much.
Zimbabwe has been one of
the societies where patriarchy
is mixed with culturally en-
trenched gender roles, causing
women to be seen more as ob-
jects because they are bought
with a bride price.
I have refrained from talking
about the rape that goes on in
marriages where bride price is
used to gain a woman because
like most women we want to
protect our kids. I also felt, and
still feel that I want to protect
my kids from questioning them-
selves and asking, "Am I a prod-
uct of rape?" No child would
want to feel that way. These are
some of the things that were so
difficult.
I didn't even know what love-
making was up until I met the
man I am married to now. I did
know that I was being both phy-
sically and emotionally abused.
Unfortunately, I had to stay in
that marriage because I wanted
to protect my children.
Culturally people don't talk
about those things, but my moth-
er would just say, "I know what
you're going through, but the
woman in you is strong enough,
and since you want an educa-
tion desperately, I do not think
your life will end up just like
me." That was when I realized
that my mother and most wom-
en were also going through the
same experience.
Awareness: I want you to
know that I admire what you
have faced and the light of spirit
that shines in your face.
Tererai: It's not easy to talk
about these things. When you
read in Nicholas Kristoff and
Sheryl WuDunn's book, Half
the Sky, there are certain things
women won't speak about be-
cause we have children who we
are still protecting. But these
things need to be talked about so
our children can also be aware.
One of the things that can play
a fundamental role in change is
education. The more women and
girls are educated, the more they
make choices, and can say "No,
I don't want that," because they
would have the economic and
social security to defend them-
selves from abuse.
My ex-husband was very jeal-
ous of even very minor things.
He tried to oppress me so that
I felt like I had no voice, but
something in me wanted to say,
`no you have a voice, keep go-
ing.' The more I did that though,
the more I suffered. Also, he was
a womanizer and didn't hide the
fact that he was sleeping with
other women.
It was so painful and humili-
ating, and I didn't know what to
do, but my mother would always
say, "you know what? Education
is probably the only way that
women and girls have to defend
themselves from such indignity
and humiliation.
Awareness: Your mother is a
very wise woman. May I ask her
name?
Tererai: Her name is Shamiso.
You know, when I came to this
country, I really admired rela-
tionships between mothers and
daughters and mothers and chil-
dren. I really admire that there
is a lot of hugging and express-
ing love. In my culture love is
expressed in different ways and
there is less hugging.
Despite this, I knew my moth-
er loved me more than anything
else. It was expressed in different
ways, in the values she expect-
ed me to live by, even though I
failed (chuckle) and I still fail,
but the values she has raised me
with still ring so true to me as I
raise my own children.
Awareness: Words are very
powerful and it sounds like your
mother was able to express her
deep care and wisdom through
words, as well as her presence.
Let me ask you about the word
tinogona in your village...
Tererai: A phrase like tinogo-
na is a phrase that is used to re-
fer to the empowering of men;
it was never a phrase that was
seen fitting for women. Among
the men, it is an empowering
phrase meaning that something
is achievable by a person who
is expected to have the power
to lead, a breadwinner who can
do it. So for women and girls to
have that, it has an empowering
effect that says yes, you can do
it and I believe in you.
Despite all the difficult
things that are in front
of you, tap into the
woman in you, and
say this is who I am.
(Continued on page 8)
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