by Jane Doe
Walking down the road with Tatenda was one of the most horrible things I’ve lived through in my entire life. I didn’t know him from a bar of soap but I knew my sister called him friend and for that specific reason I did too. With the blind devotion only a ten year old can muster, my goal in life was to be everywhere Molly was. Tatenda was funny and kind and the sweetest kind of person so whenever the three of us hung out it was always a good time. Trouble always came knocking if we decided to take a walk to the shops. It usually began with harsh stares and much rolling of the eyes and was almost always followed by hoarse whispers where you caught some words but you just weren’t sure if they wanted you to hear. My stomach would ache, a tight bundle of nerves but because Molly ignored I learnt to do the same.
“Ngochani” A vernacular word that is used to mean anything that does not fall into the CIS heteronormative world. A violent word used to strip people of their humanity. A hateful word, used with the express purpose of demeaning and degrading.
The year was 1999 and Tatenda was a young man, born and raised in Masvingo who wanted what other young Zimbabweans wanted. To live loud and free, to be proud of the person he was and to be free to choose his love. Between the hateful community and the ridiculously stringent and homophobic laws of the land, Tatenda had no choice but to leave the country. One would think that with the passage of time and availability of knowledge on Beyonce’s internet people would open their minds to something ‘other’. The year is now 2018 and the state continues to deny young queer Zimbabweans these basic rights while the church shows its arse in their bid to be holy and righteous. It’s a sorry state of affairs when preachers and faith leaders write ridiculous songs to spread this message of hate.
I’d like to think that Zimbabwean Queers are finally coming to terms with the idea that they do not need to ask for permission to exist. Of course there is still a chance that you may get arrested but with each passing day I see another out and proud child of the soil occupying space and taking back their power. It is easy to conclude that Zimbabweans are a docile and non-violent people. After all, they lived under the thumb of a dictator for thirty seven whole years and never really tried to take back the power. However this is a false and dangerous assumption as we have seen time and again the violent attitude of the nation towards the LGBTQ+ community. The time has come to have open and honest conversations about the homophobia in our midst and maybe we can begin the healing our country so desperately needs.