Women: The unsung heroes
IN my previous articles titled, “The new work environment” and “Women let’s go grab the world” I alluded to the “unsung heroes” that we need to recognise. We need to commemorate that old lady who is in the village by accident or fate. The unseen old lady whose output we see on all magazines covers, in boardrooms, newsrooms.
Let’s cast a backward glance at that old lady, who has taken care of not only the extended family, but the community as a whole. There is a saying that aptly encapsulates this for me, which says, “If you teach a man to farm, his family will eat. If you teach a woman to farm, the community will eat.” I, thus, raise a glass in toast to these unsung heroines, the mothers who are the only people who know the true meaning of working 24/7. Their dedication truly knows no bounds. The word amazing does not even begin to describe the heroic nature of our mothers, aunts, grandmothers.
She rises early in the morning, as early as 4am to light the fire and sweep the compound. She is so fond of her relatives and children, and loves to spend a lot of time with them. Inspired by a deep and unwavering love, she is always available to the family call. In as much as she has an eight roomed house in Highfields, Glen View or Budiriro, she is more at home at the village because that is where her heart belongs. Back in the ghetto or in the city, her house is like a waiting room at a train station. Everyone who comes to the city will put up at her house, use her blankets, kitchen utensils and yes, she is not there but her blessings are. Instead, she is back in the village doing what she knows best, keeping the home fires burning.
Over the past months we have touched on women being in the frontline in the fight against Covid-19. These same women are the custodians of unscripted prescriptions verbally passed on from generation to generation, which have now found a new lease of life circulating on social media platforms and giving a healthy and inexpensive alternative to modern medicine. Remedies to boost our fight against Covid-19 have been there for decades and I salute this village lady who has awakened the community to their existence. Ndorani/ntolwani, ginger, honey, lemon, zumbani, munhiti, murumanya, matukutu, soya milk, garlic, peanut oil, the list is endless. All these originated back in the village and later became commercialized in the city. So, today, allow me to celebrate these unsung heroines, the backbone of our communities.
I fondly remember my aunt, who used to remind us each time we visited at her Mbare Musika stall, that even though she was not educated, she might as well be a holder of a PHD due to her knowledge, and how she had managed to maintain the family and community. Remember also the mothers in the village who taught their children the values that have molded them into formidable corporate leaders. Her values are to be kind, forgive quickly, tell the truth, have fun, work hard, and show love to one another no matter what, and above all, to never forget to say “please” and “thank you”.
One of the most virtuous characteristics of this woman is patience and principled dedication. Patience to wait for her husband who went to work in South Africa at the Wenera Mines and never even came back on holiday, or wrote letters. But back in the village she still carries herself with dignity as if she last saw her husband the previous night. To anyone asking of his whereabouts, she answers with a smile on her face and replies, “he is very well, thank you for checking,” but deep down in her heart, she knows it’s been ages since she last heard from him. Patience is written all over her face and this is what I call love. Patience with the children, the relatives, the community – all this is respect. Patience with herself and confidence that one day her husband will come back home to her. She has faith as small as a mustard seed and she does not allow herself to be a prisoner of her past. To her it’s just a lesson and not a life sentence and thus, she performs all her chores as if all is well and she says, “It is well with my soul.”
This old woman in the village epitomizes the powerful force behind the CEOs and leaders you see in today’s world. She deserves to be loved, celebrated, and to be known. This is why today I decided to celebrate these old women, because “Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back”. Come and join me to form that tribe. In this month of our heroes, I wish Happy Heroes Month to all our mothers, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers, the unsung heroes in our lives.
By Macilyne Chitepo