At Chenyika in rural Gutu a man called Nehmiah Ziirobwa was born.
He belongs to the Gumbo totem, those who eat outside their own homesteads armed with spears, solely to prevent visitors to partake in their feast.
In traditional african culture, the relationship between mkwasha and tezvara or tsano is one of utmost great respect.
Mkwasha is the Shona word for he who marries into our family. And tezvara or tsano is the father or brother of the bride.
Broke or rich, young or old, obnoxious or obtuse, tezvara or tsano deserves respect.
In short, the relationship between mkwasha and tezvara is that of in-laws, its usually tense and deferential, with the Mkwasha being expected to solve and fund any and every problem in tezvara’s household.
For this is our culture;
Mkwasha’s obligation to tezvara’s family shall never be discharged, for he shall eternally be beholden, in perpetuity, and for posterity; to tezvara’s family.
“For Mkwasha is a fig tree. We feed on it all year round, and without ceasing.”
Mkwasha was also expected to be respectful and obedient, courageous and dignified. Especially in the presence of the mother in law. To a Shona Mkwasha, the mother in law is sacred, in her presence Mkwasha can never set a foot wrong.
And so the late great Chopper Chimbetu sang;
“Admit you are a son in law. Submit by clapping your hands. No matter how young or small the in law is, submit to his authority by clapping your hands.”
But with Nehmiah Ziirobwa, fastidious societal norms don’t apply.
During her lifetime, my sister Jane Stobekile Ziirobwa (born Kufaruwenga), was the most endearing character that ever lived. May her dear soul rest in peace. She was married to Nehmiah Ziirobwa. By virtue thereof, Nehmiah Zirobwa became my mkwasha, and I’m his tsano.
And contrary to custom and fastidious societal norms, Nehmiah Zirobwa and myself became great friends.
Whenever we meet, we drink and have a helluva good time and commiserate about our financial woes, the only thing that Zimbabwean drunks do in the face of Zanu PF maladministration.
But that is not the story. This is the story.
Julia Mazula is my niece. Her late daughter threw a lavish wedding in one of Harare’s elegant hotels. Of course I attended, so did Nehmiah Zirobwa.
Oh boy we drank!
It was time to go home. Because we had travelled from Gweru to Harare for the wedding, we had nowhere to go, so my young brother Eddie offered his house to accommodate all male relatives who were from out of town. To induce us to go to his house, my young brother Eddie offered to buy a crate of beer the following morning.
And so we staggered and tumbled into my young brother Eddie’s car, myself, Nehmiah Zirobwa and others.
My young brother Eddie”s wife is a gracious host. She laid mattresses on the floor of the boys’ bedroom for us, and heaped blankets thereon and retreated to her own bedroom with her husband.
She is Nehmiah Zirobwa’s mother in law, a relationship that is sacred, where Nehmiah Zirobwa is a son in law who should never put a foot wrong.
In our drunken stupor, we undressed to our undergarments and tumbled onto the mattresses and snored contendly, for we had had our fill, and life was good.
Until the call of nature ruined everything for Nehmiah Zirobwa. He rose in his underwear and staggered to the bathroom. After his toilet business, Nehmiah Zirobwa took the wrong turn and staggered, underwear and all, straight into my young brother Eddie’s bedroom where my young brother Eddie and his gracious wife were sleeping peacefully.
Nehmiah Zirobwa fumbled my young brother Eddie’s blankets, in his underwear, in his drunken stupor, and attempted to climb into bed, next to his mother in law.
It was monumental.
But my young brother Eddie had spotted Nehmiah Zirobwa and understood his predicament. Very calmly he said;
“I see you are lost Mkwasha, let me escort you to your room.”
But before my young brother Eddie could escort him, Nehmiah Zirobwa fled from my young brother Eddie’s bedroom.
Next morning, Nehmiah Zirobwa was distraught. Without disclosing why, he whispered into my ear;
“Get the car keys and take me away from here.”
I was stunned.
“But why Madhlirapazhe, my young brother Eddie has not purchased the liquor he promised us?”
And my young brother Eddie kept his promise. He drove us to the shops and purchased a crate of beer.
And while we drank it, my young brother Eddie narrated Nehmiah Zirobwa’s late night shenanigans.
Oh boy we laughed, or boy we drank.
And Nehmiah Zirobwa joined the uproarious laughter.