Josephine Mupambwa was the star athlete at her school. Tiny, active, and book smart, she drew the attention of one of her teachers. "He saw how petite I was and it excited him," she says.
Raised in the Budgja community of Mutoko, she was the youngest of three siblings. Josephine’s mother, the youngest of her father's two wives, was often neglected by her husband as were her son and two daughters. As a result, the burden of sending her children to school fell on her alone as Josephine’s father did not care for their education. Her mother always searched for odd farm jobs in the neighborhood and would use the money she earned to feed her children and send them to school.
Josephine rewarded her mother’s hard work by excelling and always taking the top three positions in her class. Her future was bright. Her older sister took over her paying her school fees as Josephine transitioned to high school. The transition was made easier by her continued academic prowess and athleticism. This drew a charming gaze from one of her teachers. Much younger than he was, she fell in love with him and their relationship blossomed over four years under the watchful eyes of the community.
In her final year at high school, Josephine passed three ordinary level subjects: Religious Studies, Shona and Agriculture. Her sister was unable to raise enough money for Josephine to register for her Maths and English exams. Josephine’s dream of getting an office job was lost and she began to work for a pre-school whilst her boyfriend prepared her bride price.
Josephine’s parents were not concerned that their daughter had a romantic relationship with her teacher. "My parents were proud and blessed my relationship because being married to a teacher was a very prestigious thing one could do back then." She eventually married the love of her life and they have three sons together.
Josephine’s story is set in the village during a drought. A young family finds itself running out of food and the father goes out in search of food. In the forest, he comes across a honeycomb, eats from it, and decides to keep it to himself. He returns home empty-handed and tells his wife his search was not fruitful. The young mother improvises and feeds her children and hungry husband as this goes on for weeks. One day, she decides to follow him with their children in tow. They find him indulging himself and they stay hidden. On a different day, she takes her children to the honeycomb and they bring it home without telling their father. On his next trip, the father finds the honeycomb missing and returns home truly empty-handed. His young family begins to feed on the honeycomb whilst he wilts away and eventually passes away.
The ongoing COVID-19 environment combined with the ongoing drought has made food scarce. The COVID-19 lockdowns in the country pushed some people to hoard commodities at the expense of other citizens. It is important that family members share the little resources that are available as opposed to being selfish.
Interview Date: 14 August 2020
Location: HIGHFIELD, Harare, Zimbabwe
[Whispering Silence] This project was made possible with support from Africalia and the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation of Belgium.