When a child accepts food from strangers – kukwata

Bridgette Malenga is an actress by night and teacher by day – naturally she has a new word to teach everyone: kukwata.

Kukwata – when a Zimbabwean eats food from other countries, especially during ban on imports

“Kukwata: verb. In Shona culture, when a child accepts food from strangers, or neighbour’s house, without the permission of parents.”

Dear Robbie

I am not so much concerned with your physical health as I am with the mental, psychological and emotional health of 13+ million Zimbabweans both at home and abroad. I think that you have more than enough doctors and well-wishers and sycophantic brown-nosers who attend to your every whim, whinge and ache – imagined or otherwise.

Instead, I want to tell you a quick story, from my days of growing up.

Growing up in Triangle

As a little girl in cane field suburbia, it was a thing of envy to be friends with all the children in your street. Simply because it meant that at inter-street games, the bigger street in numbers won. Also, the children from the bigger street could command the not so fortunate streets’ kids to go and pull mangoes, peaches, litchis off other people’s trees. It was a thrill! All of us as children played together. The downside was that group play meant that, in the event of a misdemeanor being discovered, we were punished together too. If one child, or the whole gang, broke some rule, then it was a communal hiding on all of our buttocks, from that mupichisi tree branch, that had a taste for young children’s bottoms.

There was, however, a glaring discrepancy when it came to mealtimes. You could spend the entire day playing at your friend’s house, but had to leave when they went to eat; or sat around playing outside waiting for them to finish eating. We were never allowed to say, “Yes, please!” when offered neighbourly delicacies. You stood to get a royal whooping if you returned home and turned down lunch or tea, or supper, because you were sated from partaking at the neighbours’ table. We were simply not allowed kukwata.  I learnt that my parents were of the same Zimbabwean stock as my friends’ the day that my brother got a terrible hiding. See, he loved to join our neighbour’s maid’s quarters whenever they ate kapenta and sadza – but would absolutely never eat it when our mom cooked it for him at home!

Why kukwata was not permitted

Kukwata was not allowed for a number of reasons. Firstly, you were depleting some poor family’s resources unbudgeted to include you, and your siblings. There are five children in my family. Can you imagine spontaneously adding an extra five mouths to your table? Secondly, the idea was to learn to appreciate what we had at home. Now if you are forever sniffing around other people’s pantries, ovens and pots, you ran the danger of being dishonest when saying grace; as well as downright not appreciating your parents’ efforts for you. Lastly, it was humiliating to be known in the town as the family that did not feed their children, as they were always starving when they were at other people’s houses.  Needless to say, we grew up very content with what we had, and knew how to structure our aspirations – I took up baking, for example.

How much do Mugabe’s trips cost Zimbabwe

Now you, Robbie, do not seem to have ever received a thorough hiding during your childhood. You base your entire presidential life on kukwata. You only visit your home country, Zimbabwe, to change your neckties or to renew your visitor’s stamp, in your passport, at Immigration. You have no idea what is going on here. You are very ungrateful of the situation that you have put Zimbabwean citizens in. You also are very unappreciative of the quandary and dire straits that you leave many a citizen in by draining our hard earned foreign currency. I think that you think that spending 4 days out of 19 days in a month of 28 days is showing solidarity? Each of your medical trips to Singapore; why you are even eating Lays’s chips anyway no one knows seeing as imports are banned in this country; bleeds the taxpayers a whopping five million American dollars. You went to Ghana, where you spent nights in a luxury bedroom billed at US$1 million after having slept throughout the seminar that you claim to have attended. Of course you partake at the table of those host countries. You have stopped appreciating our Zimbabwean cuisine of mahewu, flying ants, dried Mopani worms, sadza and the finger licking delicacy field mice. It offends us here, who are forced to work hard and just give over to you to travel, as you wish, that you take us for granted.

Blaz, those that are so keen to invite you to their events should really have the courtesy to cover the expenses run up by your extravagant coterie, including their air fare.

“Stop it!”

As a sovereign leader, I think that you need to recall that sovereignty requires that you stay at home. In your own home. I believe that you have many many properties within Harare and that your wife is still throwing people off properties for you to possess under the trade of Gushungo Holdings. So I know for sure that you are not short of homes to sleep in. Just start sleeping, eating and staying at home. You cannot be a sovereign in other people’s countries. This really humiliating habit of yours of kukwata must simply stop. I am happy to mete out the hiding and ensure that you are grounded for at least two weeks. As I think you have outlived those you called grownups, you must now begin to defer to the young adults.


A patriotic young adult who has to castigate a grown grownup.

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