Seri Jeni:

It was after this [the removal of the population from areas where they supported the freedom fighters]  that one of my children joined the struggle. What happened was that she woke up early in the morning and got ready the various things he used to sell. Then she changed into a denim dress, underneath which she wore a jersey and she put her brother’s baby on her back, saying that she was going to the township. She left the keep and then gave her little brother the baby. She said, “Bye-bye, we shall meet again some day.”

At the end of the day, as it grew dark, I asked my other children where she was. The little boy said she had told him that she was going to the shopping centre but that as she left, she had said, “Bye-bye, we shall meet some day.” She never returned.

I did not sleep that night. I felt very worried and powerless. THe following morning I told my husband that our child had disappeared and he said that I should have told him before, so that he could have reported it. After a week some men arrived to say that their son wanted to marry my daughter. My husband was very annoyed because he thought that meant that they knew where my daughter was. He wanted to beat them but my brother-in-law stopped him.

After that the police regularly came to my house to ask about my daughter. They said that we were looking for a child who was long dead. They said that they had seen her go and that she had been killed immediately.

This was untrue. She went and fought in the war. It was a painful to think about. When a person was killed, the security forces hung the dead body on a chopper and every time this happened, I thought it could be my daughter. I had no happiness for thinking about my child. Each time I heard that comrades had been killed in such and such a place, I thought she could be one of them. I was very worried. She was my fourth born child and she had been very interested in the war and had often gone to the base: many children did. They simply told the guards on the keep gate that they were going to the township. It was three years before I heard about my daughter again.

Excerpted from Mothers of the Revolution:

Mothers of the Revolution tells of the war experiences of thirty Zimbabwean women. Many people suffered and died during Zimbabwe’s war of liberation and many accounts of that struggle have already been written. But the story of the women, the wives and the mothers who remain behind, has not yet been told.

Related Links:

Mothers of the Revolution (Saying Yes)

The book @ Amazon

Twelve years ago, before I was a Mother myself, I gave my Mom a copy of Mothers of the Revolution. Reading the subheading of the book: The War Experiences of Zimbabwean women, she thought it was going to be the war experiences of gun-toting nappy-haired women who don’t hesitate to shoot upon seeing the white of someone’s skin. But it wasn’t. It was about the quiet, non glamorous, non-romanticized work of revolution; the work that is so quiet we don’t normally see it unless it’s not there…or unless it’s a threat to the dehumanizing status quo.

The whole question of motherhood, revolution and writing has been on my mind lately due to a conversation I had with a sister-friend about the sacrifices inherent in good mothering/parenting. She says that she may not be cut out for motherhood because she wants to be able to spend time writing and having mornings in bed, etc. Oh, how I can relate! What wouldn’t I give for just a week of that!! Then I look at my chocolate bundle of goodness, stubbornness and just plain 6 yr old boyness and I think no. Mornings in bed alone or with a man or a book or music or just the sunshine streaming through the window can’t compare with his scream of laughter when I tickle him in his armpits or the tightness of his arms when he comes to me for a hug after being hurt or even the endless questions that have me telling him to hush.

What’s even more ironic about her position is the fact that she had previously informed me, during one of my venting sessions, that my Son is now my revolution. I had understood that since writing

Sankara Mantra (7 Months)

Lashes like mine
Eyes like mine
even in the way
they peruse a room
Skin like mine
but darker.

A bafflement inside me
every time I hear him
referred to as black.
(how’d you get such a black baby?)

It has happened twice.
Just like my response.
(black is beautiful.)

His mouth like his father’s.
He even smirks like him
causing an almost instantaneous
transfer of affection.

whose birth filled the holes
that were consuming my heart

who is entranced by his reflection
in the mirror
has begun to stand.

I am in awe of his determination
and the fact that
at barely seventeen pounds
his head is already past my knees.

who I brought into an oppressive world
clutches his walker with his pudgy fingers
and walks completely around it.

I watch with a joy that is miraculous.

Who I brought into an oppressive world
is owed happiness and well-being
and that is a debt I will pay
like Malcolm said
by any means necessary.


Still even though I love my revolution too deeply to ever to ever abstain, this quiet work sometimes gets to me.  I once wanted to be louder than oppression. Now I find myself writing poems about wanting quiet! The same sister-friend mentioned earlier says it’s due to maturity but I miss immature me!  I miss the woman who wrote oppression should be shot down like john f. kennedy. I don’t quite know the woman who wants it quiet like days at ocean beach. I don’t know much of anything except there’s a richness to my life that wasn’t there before…no matter how much I gave of myself to the people and causes I believe in.

I guess I just have to unite womb and mind. The pre-mother me heard Tupac say “I’m your son” and even though he wasn’t talking to me, I said yes. And now that I’m a mother, I’m still saying yes.



Louder than Oppression

My Spirit Talks