Letter to my unborn child

love-letter
Tafadzwa Chiwanza

Dear child, if you are reading this, it means I’m already dead. That’s all right, your daddy never was afraid of death. Regardless of my imperfections, that you should now be fully aware of, my love for you was perfect.

I was a ruthless thug with a stone in the place where others have hearts. Bereft of any remorse, I did some horrendous things that will make the bravest of men scream in their sleep like little girls for the rest of their lives.

I was not proud of the things I did, but neither did I condemn them; the evil and the good was part of me. I had lived at peace with my darker side. When you hear of what happened to the Jairos family, know that daddy is not proud of it. The whispers are true, dear child, we woke up at the middle of the night and torched their house because they had voted for the wrong political party. Their views were against the the mandates of the liberation struggle. I did it for you my son, It was unfortunate that little Joan could not get out of the house before the fire turned it into an inferno.

I have relived that day everyday. My child, I see the little girl with her dress spluttered with blood trickling from her innocent eyes and her mouth muttering, “Why did you kill me?” I have not slept properly ever since, but understand that I did it for you my son!

If you have heard of what happened to Sekuru Kandere at Zengeza bridge, you must be thinking I was some sort of a devil, I don’t blame you, I did it for you. The old man had been part of us for a while, but one day he grew a conscience and decided to betray us. I had to stop him. It was not my idea to tie him to his bicycle and throw him into the river but I stood and watched as his screams drowned in the brown churning waters.

Such was my life when i met your mother. A common village girl, ugly as a Gothic caricature, no man would look at her twice without having to spit at her. She smelled like a tavern, her teeth were rotten, her eyes swollen and her skin resembled the bark of a burnt Msasa tree. I hated her at first sight.

As fate would have it, one day I got overly drunk after we had massacred hundreds in the nearby villages that had stopped supporting the Chimurenga, I was in desparate need of a bed warmer. She being the only thing that resembled a woman near me, I took and raped her.

I shake as I write this, tears start to gather in my eyes. Oh son! Please forgive me for what I did that night! She did not deserve it! She did not, I see it now. I used her in the vilest of ways, tore her apart and left her bleeding on the floor. I despise myself for these tears that are spoiling the paper I’m profusely writing on.

About eight months later we returned to the village to gather supplies for another raid to the west. Flames of rebellion had started from the ashes. That’s when I saw her, her hair a little shorter, her eyes as wide as those of a person who has swallowed two mangoes and she was with child. My child.

I immediately summoned her to my quarters and questioned her. After a few attempts at hiding the truth from me, I finally got it out of her through means I wish not to tell you. For the first time in my life, my knees started shaking, I was afraid! I despised myself for such pusillanimous emotions but they were not groundless, for our mission also included burning her and the whole village. I could not burn my own son.

So I sat down and began writing this to you, for I am about to commit treason by giving your mother one of our rovers to escape in. They will find out eventually, hopefully she’d would have made it across the border. As for me, they will torture and kill me. That’s okay, daddy is not afraid of death.

“Traitor! Open the damn door!”
Child that’s my superior banging on the door. I don’t have a lot of time left…

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circles

Circles

Matthew K Chikonomat

The three men wearing strange clothing stood tall and proud beside our village of Chief. The rest of us sat on the dirty ground whispering and chattering to each other. I sat between Rudo and Monica, the two girls who couldn’t stop giggling whenever we talked about boys. The Chief was saying something that seemed important but we were distracted. Rudo had her eyes on the boy who had came with the three men in strange clothing and Monica was telling her on how to proceeded on her quest. Although she had just recently turned twelve Monica was the oldest among the three of us and we all deferred to her for advice. I was the youngest and smallest, the rest of other girls had started picking up on me whenever we went to take a bath in the river.

The three men who were clad in red and black garments and feather headbands were hunters from a village fifty kilometres from ours. They were not ordinary hunters but witch hunters who had been summoned by our Chief to cleanse off all witchcraft from our villige. That is all I heard, I wanted to listen but I was an eleven year old girl and witchcraft wasn’t my problem. Besides Rudo was making headway progress, she had slyly smiled at the boy and he had finally noticed her. As abruptly as we had been called to the village’s meeting place we were order to go back to our homes till called upon.

The house I grew up in was the usual old dilapidated round hut, mostly important I felt safe inside the red bricked wall. My mother and I had moved into the hut soon after my father’s demise to alcohol poisoning. It once belonged to my maternal grandmother, Gogo Magi, and was the only place I called home so when the Chief said we wait in our homes for further orders my mother and I huddled together waiting for nothing interesting to happen. I was almost bored to death doing nothing, I couldn’t stop wondering what had happened to Rudo and the hunters’ boy after we had been dismissed.

They came for my mother that evening, just like they had done for my grandmother. The sky was orange and the sun was halfway into the horizon when I noticed the three witch hunters followed by the rest of the villagers streaking to our humble homestead. The three men leading the mob seemed possessed, they were jumping and dancing just to raise unnecessary dust. Our fellow villagers were now mad and calling for blood, they wanted her dead. Even Rudo’s newfound love interest was pointing at and calling my mother a witch.

We didn’t have any relatives, it was just my mother and I. We were really close. Growing up my mother used to tell me all about her life story. Everything including the horrors, which seemed to dominate her entire life, and the joys, which apparently were very few. She always told me about her mother, a herbal healer who was sweet and kind. She was around ten when they came for my grandmother. The witch hunters had bulged into their hut and ordered them out. They searched the kitchen last where they broke some fine set of clay pots. The hunters said they found ‘it’ hidden in one of the clay pots. The ‘it’ was something no men have ever seen before and my mother couldn’t even describe it to me properly. My grandmother was shocked and angry with the accusation. That night my grandmother was on fire, literary. They burnt her outside the village and mother witnessed it all.

Twenty five year later I now stood at the door as the people gathered on our homestead, hoping and praying that none of my mother’s horror tales came to life that night. I couldn’t stop ugly images of my burning mother from choking my brain. Or would they just be content by just hammering three inch nails into her head, just like they did to the adulteress the previous year?

They dragged my mother out of the house and poured a bucket of cold water on her. I cried and begged just as my mother had done twenty five years earlier. My mother shouted her innocence but they wouldn’t listen again. They went into our hut and search it, honesty they went into our hut and trashed it. I could hear plates and cup breaking, pots and pans crashing and floors and walls echoing death and destruction. All our ragged clothes and tattered blankets were thrown outside for the world to see, every grain of fake dignity we harboured vanished into the cool evening air.

They brought ‘it’outside, the thing no one had ever seen before. From the look on my mother’s face I say she didn’t know of its existence either. They said they found it hidden in the claypot, the only claypot we had. Yes, the one we used to brew mahewu in. They said it was a goblin, custom spelt and illegaly imported from the south. The started binding my mother with ropes, just like they had done to my great grandmother, Mbuya Duri. Now I remember, Mbuya Duri was drown to death in the river, after they found her guilty of being a witch.

I wondered what would happen to me. Would I live long enough to bear a daughter who would witness me being hanged for witchcraft too? Then twenty five years later would they drive a stark into her heart whilst her own daughter watched? They didn’t and I couldn’t and neither will any of my off spring leave this village, we are rooted and anchored to this land. After they dump my mother’s corpse in the cold ground I will continue to live as if nothing had happened. Come morning I will visit Monica and giggle a lot whilst Rudo tells us how she had fallen in love and was going to marry the witch hunters’ boy. She will follow him to the worlds’ end upsetting people’s lives. Maybe they will come back twenty five years later for my own demise, continuing the cycle. But then not all cycles are circles.

“black skin, white masks”

Black Skin, White Masks
If our eyes are to be believed;
We could claim to have seen it all,
having grown with shackles on our legs;
And timber collar round our necks;
While the whip scorched our backs,
With our hands branded with scars,
There is little we’re yet to see!

If our ears are to be believed;
We could claim to have heard it all,
we’ve heard whispers in gloomy corridors;
Of surrogate plots and conspiracies,
Plans to build tumbrel and guillotine
To behead the flame of a black man;
There is little we’re yet to hear!

Poem by Tafadzwa Lemuel Chiwanza

*title adopted from Frantz Omar Fano’s Black Skin, White Masks

 

THE MOVING FINGER

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By:Tafadzwa Chiwanza

From the moment I allowed myself to be caged by her charms like a diamantine, I knew I was in trouble. Regardless, I loved her religiously and worshiped her dearly. It felt so wrong, given the circumstances to be blindly devoted to a woman who I knew, to my sorrow would never love me back.

Pause you who read this and laugh if you will at my folly, but when you are done, spare a thought for me. For without doubt, she was the most intoxicating woman on the face of the red African soil. Willingly I allowed my eyes to be trapped by the petals the graces of her flowery eyes exhibited, unwillingly I gave her my heart to keep, and break as you will learn.

I beg the indulgence of the reader, for this story is true throughout. Due to this I’ve hitherto refrained from mentioning her name because of the effect it has on me. Haha love is evil, howbeit, a necessary one.
I pause as I write this, my writing hand has begun to shiver, my palms sweating and my heart drumming violently. I wonder if I should go on writing. I take great pains in putting my thoughts on paper, my greatest hope is that my pen may be my instrument of liberty.

I do not know how it started. Perhaps it was the way she looked at me with the sprightly sallies of her eyes, or the way she laughed careless or maybe it was her carefree attitude towards life. I don’t really know,. What I have come to understand is that between the time I met her and the time I found out that my love for her would be the end of me, I was doomed.

“I wish this could last forever. ” she whispered one day as if in a soliloquy. My long farm boy’s arms were wrapped around her as we watched the sun set from the top of a hill a few kilometres from our village. I didn’t see the need to respond to her whisper, I just tightened my grip around her body.

“Why does it have to be like this?” She asked. Despite the howling winds I could hear a tincture of sorrow in her voice. Perhaps I imagined it, but when she turned to look at me, I noticed tears welling in her eyes.
“I don’t want to go back to him, I suspect he knows about us.” she told me. We had had this conversation almost every time we had retreated to our lovers’ Creek. I shook my head to shrug aside her fears, but this did not persuade her. “Let’s go. You and me, to the capital. He will never find us.” I kept staring into her wondering eyes as they desperately searched mine for an answer.

“He beat me again this morning, see this?” She unbuttoned her dress to show me a wound just below her breasts that was still dripping blood. “I cannot endure him anymore.” She implored. I sighed heavily and kissed her forehead before saying, “go and pack your bag now.”

Like a twelve year old she scuttled down the hill with divine energy. She could have been mistaken for a deer as she skittered down the hill and her blue dress flattering behind her like a dance of the gods at Mount Olympus. I watched her recede out of sight with eyes reddened by love’s touch. then I waited. And I waited. Seconds trickled into minutes and minutes bundled into hours. It was not after the sun had surrendered to the moon that fear gripped me; what if something terrible has happened to her!

Immediately, I flew down the hill kicking stones as I did. After half an hour I arrived at the village. The stillness of our usually hive village made my heart palpitate in me. My tired legs began shaking beneath me. Sweat started pouring from my heart profusely. Images of his powerful arms strangling her to death flashed in my mind. She’s dead, I thought and my heart threatened to give up on me. If she’s dead, I’m dead too. I told myself.

I reluctantly trudged towards her place only to be greeted by teeming villagers gathered around it. They were whispering, chattering and laughing scornfully. I moved closer to them, and I noticed that they were all pointing to something that was on the ground with disdain. I shoved forward in the dense crowd until I stumbled at the thing they were point it at; A corpse. His corpse. And beside him, sat the love of my life, with her hands covered in blood. She had killed him.

Miscarriage of Justice by Tafadzwa Chiwanza

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I could hear her soft sobs as soon as I entered the room. Her body heaved up and down as tears wetted the handkerchief she desperately clung to. My reluctant and fearful steps did not stop her from this humane weakness. I believe it was  impossible for her  to have remained long alone in that room; I suppose she must have  suffocated with the violence of her paroxysms. 
Noticing my presence for the first time,  she turned her head slightly and shot me with  the arch glance of her eye, before whispering, “She’s dead, Michael.” I suppose it was my delayed response to the news that she saw it necessary to repeat the dreadful words.

“I’ve heard you.” I said,  my voice not as strong as I hoped it would have been. She slowly rose from the chair she was bundled on, and threw her powerless arms on my shoulders. I noticed her eyes had lost their usual blueness, and her eyelids were puffy; she had been crying for too long. “It’s going to be okay” I heard my voice say, “we’re going to be okay” I repeated to reassure myself, and embraced her.

I could have embraced her for centuries if it wasn’t for the huge knock that shattered the the silence that had occluded the room we were in. “It’s sergent Chimbidza, open up sir!” The voice had bellowed. On opening the door, the Sergeant burst into the room with his handcuffs flying to my hands before I even knew it, ” You’re under arrest for the murder of Tinomudaishe Makato, you’ve the right to remain silence…” the popular phrase echoed, and I could not keep my senses sharp; as the sergeant dragged me away, like how a hyena drags a dead kudo.

My wife threw herself to the ground and bellowed out a mighty scream, that could’ve deafened anyone who was near her. All who heard her could understand her predicament, her husband and raped and killed her only daughter. Of all the 4 billion men in the world, she had married the most evil of them. I heard her scream again! Little did I know it would be the last sound I would ever hear from her. Life!

My case attracted a lot of media attention because of how my little girl had been brutally mutilated. As a result it was expedited and within 24 hours I was standing before a prejudiced female judge and an angry jury. The facts were presented, plastered with disgusting conjectures. So my fate was sealed and I was on my way to prison for a long time.
I suppose what greatly angered the jurors was my  serenity amid all the raging storm. I never for once tried to counter all the heinous accusations that were plastered on my name by the prosecutor, because my mind wondered how my beloved wife was coping with all this. She never for once appeared in court, clearly showing that she wasn’t taking it to we’ll.  Poor woman!
Even my lawyer lost faith in me and I have to say, I was poorly defended, perhaps that’s why I was slapped with a 30 year sentence. By that time was was 45 years old, so you can imagine it was not different from a death sentence.

I appealed the verdict after three months and I stood before the jury again. This time the lump of their anger had dissolved for my health had greatly devolved while I was in prison. My lawyer told the court of how I was dying with cancer and managed to challenge the evidence presented. I took the stand and denied having raped and killed my daughter,
“I didn’t do it.” I said laconically.
“The evidence says you did!” the prosecutor replied with the arrogance of any silly billies.
“Fuck the evidence,  I’m no criminal! ” I ejaculated uncircumspectly, the judge warned me to behave. I growled. The case rumbled on for a few weeks and to the surprise of a lot of people, I was found not guilty. I was released immediately.
To tell you the truth I do not know who killed my little girl,  all I know is it wasn’t me. I couldn’t do such an evil act, no ways. I remembered for the first time, my wife. I remember my legs shaking below me as I walked down our driveway. My heart threatened to drown me in its drumming. I hadn’t seen her since the day I was dragged away, she never visited not even once. My name had been cleared and we could comfort each other in our sorrow, such were my thoughts.

Closed doors give me tremors.  I remember knocking on the door but no one replied. Slowly I push it ajar. The image that greeted me,  shocked me so much that I dropped to my knees and for the first time in a long time,  I screamed with agony; for my beloved wife had  hung herself. She had been dead for three months. Below her hanging feet,  there was a note written;
“I know he didn’t do it.”