CRYING IN VAIN (Tears of the beautiful Unyamwezi)
By Reuben Chonzie
Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural resources: Malawi
Nyamwezi was only 18, when her elder sister failed to overcome the strong traditional beliefs of the society, much of it we think she had a lot of choices to make but literally she didn’t have even one because she was the only person in the clan to fall in that situation. There was no record in the society of a lady being deviant to follow the traditional, maybe she was the only person to come across a forced marriage partner or others were just dying silently for fear of the consequences of acting against the traditional beliefs. The approved husband to be was not that a bad guy, he was very handsome, tall and straight, well-educated with much possession at home that any lady who goes for all that glitters can fall in. But Unyamwezi’s heart was passionate for a man she had known for five years then, though she really knew that the man who had taken her heart was from a poor family according to the context of her land.
The beautiful Unyamwezi was the best student of the year according to the assessment team, which was assessing students’ performance both in class and outside classroom activities, she was given a medal of honor for helping mount Ishana high school to take position one in a science competition involving all high schools in Ishanaland. That year she had been given a scholarship to pursue a BSc in Human Science and Community Services at the University of Ishanaland, all her dream was to be the first female education warrior in a land where the power of men reigns. She was coming from a well to do family in the Utochi context where having more land, goats, cattle and more children was a symbol of power and success. Utochi village was very native, a place where people were strongly holding the traditional beliefs and it was believed that anyone trying to disobey the traditional beliefs was dealt with by the spirits.
The whole family gathered at the Akuna train station, waiting diligently for the only light of the village but no one knew what Unyamwezi has found at school. Her sister Nyamwezi had a lot of stories to share, a lot of questions to ask, she had never gone to town but she heard a lot of rumors about life in town. She had heard that the water in town is very amazing, it has a charm to turn the black skin into white, the skin oil are different from those they use in the village, in town people use skin oils that make the skin very soft and remove the pimples on the face. She really wanted to see if her elder sister had changed compared to the time she was leaving the village in order to find out the truth of the whole rumors about life in town. She carried an old, discolored and cracked picture of the whole family where there was a face of Unyamwezi so that she could cross check. It was now five years since Unyamwezi left the village, she had been spending much of her holidays at Lonex home in town, she used to enjoy walking in town, watching football games at the stadium and having fun with her boyfriend at the Ishana cultural center.
Most of the time she used to tell Nasimango (Lonex mum) that “one day I will take your son to the country side to see my mum and daddy, I will take him to the coolest mount Ishana where the power of love reigns”, Nasimango just smiled as she listened to the mad lovers. Immediately the train arrived at Akuna train station, the madly lovers came out of the bus while laughing to the jokes they were kidding inside the train as they were taking selfies. Nyamwezi and her parents were still waiting for Unyamwezi to come out but to their surprise the train left the place without seeing Unyamwezi coming out, mama started shouting “I know this town monger girl will not come here to see us, what kind of a woman am I going to make in my afterlife if I die without seeing my first daughter getting married?” Nyamwezi was the one cooling her mum down while her father was just shaking his head in agony. Suddenly Nyamwezi eyes were caught by the young modern guys who looked like tourists on the station, they were busy taking pictures of anything they saw and laughing like nobody’s business. Actually she had never seen people being excited of anything like that, so she paid much attention to these tourists. Then she heard the male tourist talking to his partner with huge excitement: Lonex: Unyamwezi! So this is how beautiful is your home? Unyamwezi: honey you haven’t seen much, this place is very beautiful indeed. Lonex: where are your mum and Nyamwezi you have been talking about? Unyamwezi: mmmmm they are coming, soon they will be here. Nyamwezi looked at the picture in her hand and looked at the lady, to her perception she felt that she was not the same to the picture but why the name is the same, for sure that is my sister because Unyamwezi is our clan name but why so different? Nyamwezi asked herself. Mama! Nyamwezi called. What is your problem! Nachimidzi shouted. Nyamwezi: that lady looks like my sister Nachimidzi: what sister are you talking about? You mean that beautiful lady there? Nyamwezi: yes ma, she is Unyamwezi. Nachimidzi slapped Nyamwezi on the head, your dick head can’t even know your own sister. As they were approaching where Unyamwezi was, Unyamwezi turned around and saw her little sister, then she screamed “hey little kido, honey here comes my kido sister” then she ran and hugged Nyamwezi and her mother. With great joy Nyamwezi produced the picture and asked “but sister why are you not similar to the Unyamwezi on the picture?”Unyamwezi replied while looking at Lonex with a beautiful smile “kido life has changed a lot, meet my boyfriend Lonex”. The whole family was in great joy for the coming of their loved daughter Unyamwezi, she didn’t look like she is going to spend much of her time in the village because she came with a small hand bag and a boyfriend. After the party her father called her in the sitting room, he wanted to know her intention of bringing a stranger in the house without his consent and to disclose the day of her wedding ceremony. Hey dad! Unyamwezi greet her father as she used to do with Lonex’s father in town. Kamutete: am fine and you? Unyamwezi: fine dad, how is farming nowadays? Kamutete: farming is going well my daughter and we have managed to open another farm near the old one. Unyamwezi: woo! That’s great dad, I heard you called. Kamutete: yes my daughter but I was just waiting for Nachimidzi to come, glad that she is now here, now you have come here what is your plan? With excitement Unyamwezi started narrating her successful stories. Unyamwezi: dad you don’t listen to your radio, do you? I am the best student of the year in the whole Ishanaland, I have been given a scholarship to study at the University of Ishanaland, and so next month I will be going to school. I have only come here to see you then tomorrow I will be leaving to town to make some arrangements about my scholarship. Kamutete: mmmm that’s very great, so who is this man from town? Unyamwezi: mmmmm dad, he is Lonex my boyfriend, we have been together for the entire high school years and I have been spending my holidays at his home. Nachimidzi: yes! That is the main reason for this discussion.
Unyamwezi: oooh! You want to discuss about Lonex, well he is a very good person. Kamutete: no, it’s not about that, I want to tell you that next week you are going to have a wedding ceremony, so according to our traditional you are not supposed to go to town anymore so that your husband should find you here. Unyamwezi: wedding ceremony? Husband? May I be guided please; am I really the right person for this message? Kamutete: you heard it right, the discussion is closed. Unyamwezi: dad what about my school? What about Lonex? Kamutete: forget it young lady, here we don’t have a formula for calculating wealth using the so called education, glad that you know the spelling of baba. Nachimidzi: my daughter your guy from town is not part of us, he cannot pay 10 cattle for your Lobola and we don’t share the same God, we don’t want people to introduce a strange God in our family. Unyamwezi: but mum I love Lonex so much and am not ready to marry, as of now I want to continue with my studies and talking of marriage I cannot marry a man I don’t love. Kamutete: what do you know about true love young lady? True love is only defined by the goddess mother at the shrine; the Gods of this land chose chiumbuzo as a right partner for you. Unyamwezi: but ma………. Nachimidzi: shut up your mouth! Is this what town life has done to you? From now and onwards no more putting on male clothes and those stupid make ups, am going to bring back my true Unyamwezi in you. Unyamwezi: but Ma…how…..how can you sacrifice your own daughter like that? Nachimidzi: at least you should thank us for choosing a husband from a wealth family, so just tell your Lonex to forget about you. Unyamwezi: mum, Lonex is from a wealth family, they have cars, good houses and shops. Nachimidzi: in our context we don’t define wealth by those things, if they don’t have cattle and a large plot, then they are a poor family.
The news was too heavy for Lonex to carry, the two lovers spent the whole day crying in the house, with no one to cool them down, but their cries went in vain. That day everyone knew that true love does exist among human kind for it was the first time in the history of Utochi for people to behave like that in the name of love. It was a very heavy day such that everyone passing through the house thought that there was funeral ceremony.
In the land where traditional beliefs take the right of people to make rational and informed decisions about their life, many youth live their entire marriage life with total sadness. Nachimidzi was just following what kamutete was saying though she knew the consequences of arranged marriage when the partners don’t match but she could not do anything since she was also the victim of the situation. She was the only child of the family who was supposed to inherit the fruit of the sweat of her parents but when her fate came to get married to kamutete she lost everything even the land she was cultivating because according to the traditional her wealth was in her husband’s home. At last Lonex went back to town with sadness, but he told Nyamwezi to come to town when she needed help since fire goes where there is grass.
It was the most expensive wedding ceremony ever, colored by different dances from well-dressed dancers who were showcasing their dancing skills. Everyone was very happy welcoming a new family in the land but only one person was wearing a very sad face, we wondered if she was going to make a good wife. After three days of marriage Unyamwezi called her little sister Nyamwezi, they shared a lot of stories about marriage life; they couldn’t understand why their father was always eager to sacrifice his own daughter for the sake of the traditions. At last Unyamwezi told her sister that “it’s very painful to share a bed with a man you don’t have feelings for, my sister I love you so much don’t do the mistake I did, try your best to overcome the traditional beliefs, this land will be a safer place to be if women are given a chance to choose the kind of life they want and the chance to chase their dreams”.
Nyamwezi didn’t know that her elder sister is saying goodbye, early in the morning Unyamwezi was found dead with a bottle of pesticides beside her bed, it was a very painful death because the world lost a lady who had the potential to transform the land.
After the burial ceremony Nyamwezi’s name was mentioned during elders’ meeting, she was the only one to take the position of her late sister. The idea of getting married to Chiumbozo frightened her, in her mind the last words of her late sister were flowing now and again, “yes I must overcome the traditional at all cost, and why can I not marry a man of my choice?” The death of Unyamwezi woke up a lot of people from their slumber, they started accusing the tradition for most of the untimely death of young people that has been happening in the land, and people started believing that these traditional beliefs cannot work with modern youth. One of the strongest advocates of this idea was grandma who strongly believed that the traditional beliefs were responsible for the death of the only star of utochi village. Nyamwezi was in trouble, she promised her late sister that she will marry a man of her dream, she didn’t want to fail her sister by undergoing an arranged marriage and worse of it taking her beloved late sister’s position. In her mind she was thinking “if mama and dad manage to defeat the genius Unyamwezi what about me, the best is to talk to grandma she always understands things in another angle, I think she is going to help me”. Grandma designed a plan for Nyamwezi to escape the marriage in which she provided her with money and told her to go to town to explain everything to Lonex.
The journey was too long Nyamwezi had never gone to town before, she was very tired and sleepy. Suddenly she started digesting some crucial concepts and coming up with questions without answers “why is the tradition so strong that everyone is so afraid and blindly just follow without colossal reasons? Why everything in the village favors men to the point that women cannot access inheritance just like men do? Why education is only for men?”As she was coming out of the train Nyamwezi was very anxious, it was her first day in town and she didn’t know where to go so she was just walking to find someone to ask where to find Lonex. Suddenly she heard a voice of a woman calling her late sister’s name, when she turned around she saw a woman rushing where she was while smiling and an expectedly the woman hugged her and said “where have you been my beautiful Unyamwezi, for all this time I have been waiting for your coming” mum am sorry, am not Unyamwezi she replied, then after a long discussion she learned that the woman was Nasimango (Lonex mother). Nasimango was in deep cry upon hearing that Unyamwezi died such a painful death, at last she said “oooh my beautiful Unyamwezi, you have gone without showing the world how genius a woman can be, how am I going to tell my son that Unyamwezi is not coming back”.
The time for Nyamwezi to be shown to her husband came but she was nowhere to be seen, kamutete and her wife searched every place they thought Nyamwezi could be found but to no avail, the last hope was to consult the mother god at the shrine. Kamutete was the leader of all the worshipers at the shrine, he took the position from his grandfather who was known to be a man possessed with supernatural power so he had a very good background to put all his trust on the mother god whenever things went wrong. At the shrine the mother god found grandma responsible for the missing of Nyamwezi, after being summoned by the elders grandma denied being responsible for the missing of Nyamwezi which led to the elders concluding that grandma have killed Nyamwezi in order to bring drought in the land. The elders ordered grandma to be stoned to death for killing Nyamwezi.
Nasimango told Nyamwezi to stay in town with them and continue her education at mount ishana high school where her late sister was learning. It was a dream come true because she found out that school life was not tough compared to the village, every day she was being driven to and from school and the school environment was very conducive to her because her sister was a legend of mount Ishana high school.
After five years of high school her dreams of going to university were fulfilled, she was selected to pursue Agricultural Engineering at the University of Ishanaland.
In her final year of study the rumor reaches utochi village that Nyamwezi is alive and is staying with Lonex mother, her parents organized the villagers to take Nyamwezi back. The train driver who took the news of Nyamwezi existence to the village led the group of the villagers to Lonex home; they came dressing in their usual attire whenever they are going to war, with swords, axes and arrows in their hands. The villagers ‘didn’t find anyone at home so they followed Lonex mother to the shop, on their way they were dancing while singing their traditional songs, the whole town was disturbed by the villagers, everyone rushed to the shop to see what was happening. Nasimango came out of the shop, politely she asked the dancers “can I help you?” kamutete came out of the crowd and shouted “bring my daughter here or else I will cut your body into pieces!” Nasimango then came to understand what these villagers are from and what are they looking for. So she asked them “which daughter are you looking for?” kamutete shouted again “woman! Don’t waste my time I need my daughter Nyamwezi where is she?” well if you need Nyamwezi then there is only one way, Nasimango replied. Which way? Nachimidzi asked. Then Nasimango answered “court” immediately the villagers were shouting on top of their voice while beating their drums louder.
As they were about to break the shop the police came in large number and took the villagers to the station where they were advised to follow state orders if they want to bring Nyamwezi back to the village. Lonex mother called Lonex and Nyamwezi home where she explained to them everything that happened and that they will appear in court in the following day. Lonex was a very competitive and famous lawyer in Ishanaland, so he was the one to speak for his mother and Nyamwezi. The villagers’ lawyer was kamuthe who was a friend of the driver who told kamutete where Nyamwezi was staying, in the court kamuthe accused Nasimango for keeping a child without following state procedures and he also accused her of child trafficking, his main witness was the train driver and kamutete. Lonex called two witness Nyamose a friend of the late Nyamwezi grandma who informed the court how the traditional beliefs led to the death of Unyamwezi and grandma and how he and grandma engineered the escape of Nyamwezi from the arranged marriage. Another witness was Mr. Masina Unyamwezi’s teacher at high school who testified how intelligent she was and what could have been her contribution to the country of Ishanaland, at last he said Ishanaland has lost the best female in our generation.
Everyone was waiting anxiously to the verdict, after an hour break the court resumed and the judge started ruling “ much as the court respects traditional beliefs, the court also has the responsibility to protect people who are the victims of their traditional beliefs, according to the state policies traditional leaders have the duty and responsibility to make sure that traditional beliefs are not infringing the rights of the villagers and some beliefs that are a threat to the life of citizen should be modified or removed. On the other hand the government of Ishanaland has orders to be followed when adopting a child so it is the responsibility of everyone adopting a child to make sure that all the procedures are followed to avoid acting against the law. Based on the facts that has been given by both parties I judge Maduwa here by ordering Mrs. Manjawila (Nasimango) to take full responsibility of Nyamwezi including her education needs but the true parents of the child has the right to visit their daughter whenever it pleases them. On the death of Grandma and Unyamwezi am here to sentence kamutete and all the elders involved to thirty five years of imprisonment with hard labor, the case is closed. There was a lot of joy on the side of Nasimango, tears were flowing in Nyamwezi’s eyes, she couldn’t believe that they have won the case and she is going to finish her education. After three years Nyamwezi and Lonex got married and gave birth to a beautiful daughter who was given a name Unyamwezi by Nasimango for she always remember the beautiful Unyamwezi.