Zimbabwe: Haunted by my aunt’s name

Date: October 10, 2019
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I was given the name Matinetsa which literally means “You have troubled us” after my aunt who died the same day that I was born. My late mother nearly got divorced for having vehemently refused to have me named after my late father’s sister, Matinetsa. My late aunt had been married for five times during her life time and she had had children with all the five different men. My late aunt would just walk out her marriage over very minor squabbles with her spouses. My late mother despised her and that was why she did not readily accept me being named after her.  

As I grew up people would call me derogatory names implying that I was just like my late aunt. A lot of people in my community would accord my young sister more respect than I was accorded because they all believed that I would follow my late aunt’s footsteps. I grew up very offended even at the calling of my name, Matinetsa. When it was time to be issued with a birth certificate my late mother gave me a Christian name, Gladys, much to the anger of my father. To compound to my worries, I was always in and out of hospital as I grew up. I suffered from one ailment to another. That made me to repeat most of the grade levels at school because of absenteeism.  

I was about to get married when my father passed on and customarily the ceremony had to be postponed till some rituals were performed. My uncles deliberately delayed the ceremony by close to five years. When it was finally done, another hiccup occurred. My fiancés mother passed on and everything had to be put on hold once more. My mother advised me that all the misfortunes had a bearing in my anticipated marriage hence I had to abandon it and look for another possible fiancé to get married to.  

I finally got married to a caring man from the eastern highlands, Nyanga. A few years into my marriage, my mother in law suffered from a stroke. I nursed her and everyone was very appreciative of the care I gave her. When she finally recovered, she told everyone in the family that I was the cause of her stroke. She further alleged that I was trying to cover up for my devilish acts by taking care of her. She accused me of being a witch and was out to kill her. She would neither eat anything that I prepared for her nor allow me to even do her laundry. My husband was supportive of me but as time went on more and more of my in laws resented me. 

My mother in law then openly told anyone who cared to listen that most women from Zezuru were witches and I was no exception. She started inviting some traditional and faith healers to our place consulting on who had caused her to get a stroke. She had secretly connived with some of them to accuse me of being the one responsible for the devilish acts. My husband initially stood by me by he finally took his mother’s side. My mother in law then openly said that my marriage to her son would not last as she had a suitable lady for her to marry. She further said that she had already made an agreement with the lady’s mother some time back when my husband was still a toddler. She encouraged me to either leave her place whilst still being alive or I would not say goodbye to my relatives. I envied the day I was named Matinetsa as I believe that my aunt’s shadowy behaviour is still following me. I had no choice but to pack my few belongings and leave for my parents’ place. I am now doing cross border trading whilst looking after my aged mother and my late sister’s children.