Thursday, 31 March 2011

Tales of a Child on the Zambezi River

Nyasha, from Zimbabwe, living in Marromeu.

My first problem is saying where I'm from. When people ask me, I generally come out with this: "Well, my father's Zimbabwean and my mother's British, I have British and Zimbabwean passports but we live in Mozambique." To be precise, we live in Marromeu, which, as my mother says, used to be a 'one horse town' and now could perhaps be termed a 'two horse town.' I suppose my history with Marromeu began when my parents spent a couple of weeks of their honeymoon sharing a room with another couple in a flea-ridden, rat-infested house in the centre of town. And yes, they are still happily married. I was born two years later in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. And two years after that, my first sister came along, in England, just before my family moved back to Zimbabwe in preparation for moving way out to Mozambique. My earliest memories are of living in a little flat in Glen Norah, Harare, where, as I distinctly remember, my mother used to complain about the red and white flowered curtains in the kitchen. I didn't understand why, at age two and a half. I also distinctly remember our first attempt at a move out to Marromeu in the old land rover, with the Heathcotes. We got stuck in the mud of one of the worst dirt roads in Africa a little on the way to Marromeu. I wanted to get out and help dig the land rover out, and I couldn't understand why my father didn't let me, till I remembered my baby sister: "If I got out, Kudzai would want to get out too, and of course she's far too little. That's why".

We eventually moved to Marromeu in September 1999, and we have lived here ever since. And on the whole, I have loved it. It's always been home. We learned Sena, played with our local friends, did so many fun things- like paddling in plastic tubs in the huge puddle that formed at the bottom of the garden when it rained, or crossing the River Zambezi in a giant canoe for ministry on the opposite bank. Because we live in such an isolated place, for a long time my only experience of YWAM being YWAM was weekly prayer meetings with the one other missionary family, the Santoses, but in 2004 we went to Windhoek, Namibia so my parents could do the LTS and I loved meeting the YWAMers from all over the world. I have loved being part of YWAM in Africa- all the conferences we have been to - the crazy one where the whole of YWAM Marromeu plus the DTS running at the time packed into a tiny truck and travelled all day and a goodly portion of the night to some tiny Catholic mission high in the mountains where the conference was being held, or when my family made the journey from Marromeu to Cape town, I can't remember how many thousand kilometres, in just three days for the IFMLT. That was when I was thirteen, the same year as when our whole family moved to Luawe, a remote location in the Zambezi delta, for six weeks. That was just amazing. We were completely cut off. Our only contact with the outside world was through Satellite phone, in emergencies, or occasionally through letter sent by canoe to Marromeu. Once our friends in Marromeu sent us a package by canoe, with a little piece of chocolate for each of us, and it tasted like heaven. Not that we missed things like that (although one sunny day I had a sudden inexplicable craving for a peanut butter and jam sandwich.) The break from the stresses of ordinary life, even ordinary life in remote Marromeu, was truly amazing and refreshing. None of us wanted to leave at the end of our six weeks. But our time was so much more than a break in the jungle- the people were the most precious part of it. We helped teach in the tiny school. I gave art lessons, one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done in my life.

We had such a great time, and yet now, I am fifteen, and I wonder: would I go back? Just two years have made a huge difference to the way I look at my life in Marromeu. As my mother puts it, I 'want to spread my wings, and I can't.' I will always love Marromeu, but now as I grow up there are so many things which I want to do and cannot. Besides this, the older I grow the more sharply aware I become of the culture differences between me and my Sena friends. And this brings in one of the toughest problems we MKs can face: who am I? I long to be Sena, to be totally accepted by the Sena, but I am not and never will be, any more than I am totally English or Zimbabwean.

Mind you, I have left out the most important part in my story. You could say that my troubles started when I turned fourteen and started to become discontented with Marromeu. But on the whole, these last couple of years have been a time when I have learned more and more to turn to God. It's amazing to look back and see how God has been there for me, and I have discovered that the most important thing is not what I would like to do or who I am, but who God is and who I am to Him.


  1. I like the honesty, keep up the good work! Any chance of getting a translator? Do you want me to look while I am here in Brazil?

  2. Nyasha, thanks for this post. It brought back some great memories of being with you all in Zim and Mozambique!
    Shephen, translation would be great: I can see we need to have a website rather than a blog, with language options!

    Miranda, mother to missionary kids!