opposition have melted. Hopelessness has taken over. There is a feeling our leaders no longer respect us. They are now laughing at us. They have us where they want us: helpless and submissive. The best we can do is simply to survive and wait for better days.
If there is some truth in this diagnosis we need some symbols of hope to lift our spirits. We know there are women today – Netsai Mushonga, for example – who do give us hope. But sometimes their names and deeds get buried in the mass of news and documentation which is our daily fare and which lulls us into directionless confusion.
Perhaps it is good to remember that there were other times when other figures stood up against the prevailing climate of hopelessness. Japanese historian Tsuneo Yoshikuni has made a study of Mai Musodzi, a resident of
Musodzi was born in about 1885 in the Gomba valley south of the present Mazowe Dam and her family was part of Chief Hwata’s people who were active in the first chimurenga. She lost her parents in the fighting and sought refuge with Chief Chinamhora who placed her under the care of the Dominican sisters at the newly opened Chishawasha mission. There she learnt many practical skills and met her future husband, Frank Kashimbo Ayema, a member of the BSAP and who came from
The 1920s were difficult times for blacks as the colonial government squeezed out competitive entrepreneurs. In 1924 Musodzi was already producing, ‘five bags of mealies, five bags of monkey nuts, five bags of rice, 50 pumpkins and 35 bags of rapoko.’ She was poised to compete with commercial farmers. And what is more, her example was being followed by other women who were despairing of their marriages and looking for divorces as their husbands did not share their wages with their families. An elderly Hararian told Yoshikuni, ‘most marriages survived because of this woman.’ She helped them to be self-reliant.
Mai Musodzi went on to start the African Women’s Clubs and she introduced ‘true nursing’ through the Red Cross. A few lines here cannot due justice to this woman but it is clear that she was an inspiration to the
Mai Musodzi is not included when the heroes of