“When I was a young girl…” wisdom from our grannies

Grannies shared their humble yesteryear lifestyles and gave advice to young girls at the U.S. Embassy’s weekly Food for Thought discussion last week.

Chihota (right) and Nyangani with Stuart Moyo of DefZee.
Chihota (right) and Nyangani with Stuart Moyo of DefZee.

“Have respect for your bodies and your elders. Go to school and love your country and its resources. Respect and follow traditional practices. Be polite and don’t answer back when you are being given advice…. And always smile,” 72-year-old Isabel Chihota told an enthusiastic audience.

“Those days, we were much protected because there were no cellphones, few televisions, no refrigerator, no food outlets like Chicken Inn, and we used to respect our parents so much,” said Florence Nyangani (52).

Both women work with orphaned and vulnerable children at a local NGO, Chiedza Child Care Centre, based in Mbare. They described the simpler lifestyles of their younger years; drawing laughter from the audience with things many would consider taboo today.

“We used to go to the pools in our rural areas during those days. There were no swimming costumes and we swam together nicely and nothing happened,” recalled Nyangani, who said she grew up in a family of four boys and two girls. “We used to sleep together in the same room. There were no beds those days and nothing used to happen those days…. I grew up in Mbare and went to school on bare feet , my satchel was (one of) those mealie-meal 10 kg bags, and we didn’t mind,” she said.

“We were not allowed to do anything on a Wednesday. Chaive chisi chekuera. When I was 17, I used to visit my parents in Mbare and we watched movies at mai Musodzi Hall in the afternoons. We walked in groups,” narrated Chihota, who lost her three children to HIV/AIDS.

“While in Epworth, we used to go to fetch firewood as far away as Ruwa and collect water for everyday uses,” said Chihota, who cares for her four grandchildren. “The new generation thinks they know everything. They are calling us “old model” and “P.O. box,” yet they call themselves “dotcoms,” said Nyangani.

“Many girls are being spoiled by their parents because they hire maids. As a result, you find a 16-year-old girl who cannot cook or do laundry or make beds, which is not good.”

However, the two grannies gave advice to young girls: “Stop following what you see in Western movies and stick to your culture.”

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