Zimbabwe: The story of my miserable life in the hands of my stepmother and my stepfather

Date: October 10, 2019
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My name is Emilda* I am 49 years old. I was born in a family of seven. We grew up during the time of the liberation struggle. I vividly remember the day when our house was burnt by the soldiers and my father was arrested. My father was convicted and slapped with a prison term.  

My mother took us to stay at our grandparents’ home. We stayed there while our father was in jail. We were struggling to survive and we were doing menial jobs to eke out a living. Our wish was to be educated and we worked very hard doing piece jobs to pay for our school fees.  

When my father was released from prison he came to take us home but our grandparents from my mothers’ side refused to let us go with him. We remained behind but life was very difficult for us. My mother later got married to another man. The step father hated us and he mistreated us. I ran away and went back to my father’s home. When I arrived at his place I discovered that he had married a new wife. 

I stayed with my father and my stepmother but life was very tough. My stepmother hated me and she stopped my father from paying my school fees. I went to school up to form three without paying school fees but my half brothers and half sisters were not in the same situation I was. My father was saying he do not have money to pay for my school fees but he had the money. I still have pain because of how my own father ill-treated me. I was very intelligent but nothing came out of it because I was denied the right to education.  

I dropped out of school in form three and I started working as a house maid. I used to visit my mother and my aunt would insult me telling me all sorts of degrading words. She was viewing us as useless people despite the fact that our situation was influenced by circumstances beyond our control. 

I later got married to my long time lover who was working as a soldier. We lived happily together and our marriage was blessed with four children. In 1992 I entered into cross border trading. I was going to South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique and Botswana to purchase stuff for resale in Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, my husband passed on and I moved out of the camp where we were staying to the high density suburbs of Kadoma.  

I continued with my business and I was able to take care of my children. I got a space from council to trade from and my business grew. I opened a cosmetic shop and I also introduced kitchenware. I built a tuck-shop at my rural home where I sell groceries. I also opened another grocery shop along Mutorashanga road. My business is growing and I managed to buy a car (Toyota Rav 4). I later bought a pickup truck for easy transportation of my products. All my children had completed their education and they are happily married.