Thank Yourself Every Day - My Grandma's Wisdom Holds True
By Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda
She was the best woman of character, courage and she had a presence. She knew what she wanted in life, and spoke with clarity of mind. I always wanted to cuddle next to her whenever she came to visit. My late grand mother, Francisca Zaranyika Marumisa. She was known as vaTeacher, because she was like a community advisor, full of knowledge, which she generously dished to any and all who cared to listen, even unsolicited. She was never a real trained teacher in her life! Nicknames.
My grand mother was an intrigue, in many ways. Her life had been turbulent. She divorced with my grandfather, leaving six children. My grandfather had married a second wife and she told us stories of the violence she could no longer endure. She drifted into the farms and for years was just lost.
Then she came home one day, and she had a husband with her. She had remarried "Murudzi" they said. She settled at Chitate village and she started to rebuild her life again. Then her second husband died, and she was all alone. I was requested to go and stay with my grandmother, so that she can someone to fetch water for her, and provided the much needed company to a lonely aging widow. I was in grade 5, old enough to help and too young to understand many other things.
I loved ambuya, and staying with her was the best thing to happen in my life, then. Those were my best days. I did not mind now walking much longer distance to school. My Ambuya would boil mangai nenyemba for me to take to school. She would ask me to rest and not do serious work after school.
During the farming season, my duty was to do the cooking while she worked in her small maize field. We would sit under the mango tree and enjoy our meal together. I brought the food in a basin seated in a small swanda, with water in a black kettle or 5 litre chigaba cheOlivine. At the end of the day, each day, she would sit down and "thank herself". She would say, "Zvaitwa Tembo, waita mwana waZaranyika, Masakura pese apa. Zvaonekwa. Ndokuti kazukuru kawane kurarama".
She would thank herself each day, talking loudly. It used to bother me and I simply wanted to understand why Ambuya talks to herself at the end of each day. One day, I gathered enough courage and asked her, why? Her words I have kept to this day..
"I have had a hard life muzukuru. I had always looked to out to other people to appreciate what I do. But I know, that each day I do the best I can. I need to appreciate my effort, so that I can wake up tomorrow and do more." She said it so slowly, meaningfully and in Shona.
A deep silence of solidarity and empathy sat there between me and my grandma. I understood her words and yet did not comprehend their full meaning.
It is now more than three decades, and her words do echo in my heart! How often do we self evaluate and self appreciate. Are you always beating yourself up that you not doing your best? Do you wait for external affirmation more, without being self affirming? Always feel good inside, each day, when you do your best.
Ambuya, your wise words I will always treasure, even though it is countless moons since you joined your ancestors kunyikadzimu.