Woman getting twisted braids in salon says to me, “Kana nemiwo Mainini munogona kuitawo First Lady.” meaning even I too can become a First Lady.
I smile that smile you smile when you want to ignore someone in a nice way.
“Don’t try to smile me into silence,” she says. “I mean it, you too can be a First Lady.”
I switch off my phone on which I had been reading a Caine Prize for Africa winning short story. I look at her in the mirror and smile an opposite smile from my earlier smile. “Maybe I can be the President instead.”
“No you can be the First Lady if you want. It’s not that hard at all.”
“How do I become the First Lady then?” I asked. My voice and my eyes in the mirror on the edge of betraying the ridiculousness of it all.
“You start by being randomly caught on camera buying tomatoes by the roadside.
You make undercover visits to hospitals. Make sure you are surrounded by bodyguards and aides though, in as much as you are undercover.
You form a foundation to help the needy and make sure corporates take turns to donate to the foundation. Sometimes you can forget who donated so you say it’s all from your pocket.
You are randomly captured on video cooking sadza in a large pot
Wear a black choker on your neck when you are going to the funeral of a legendary musician. The choker must have the words DANGER coated in gold because death, you know, is dangerous.
You introduce a national dress that no one really wants and ask some women to model these clothes on a runway at state house. One of these models should be the only Caucasian minister in cabinet who obviously looks like the only Caucasian mainstream musician in the country.
You introduce a cookout of traditional foods as if you discovered traditional food the same way David Livingstone discovered the Mo-sia- tunya falls
Label everything you do with ’The First Lady’s…’ prefix. Like the First Lady’s women empowerment projects. The First Lady’s Male Engagement Program etc
Make sure you have a story about all the good things you are doing on the Second page of The Propaganda newspaper everyday. You choose your pictures yourself and read the story before publication. Also get your very own journalists that you travel with so that nothing is missed.
Start a talk show on a popular radio station where you dish out unsolicited advice to young people, because you know better.
Play netball with women in a large printed dress.
Talk, talk and talk some more about women empowerment, talk against gender based violence, talk about how families are important and so on and so forth. But keep quiet about your former Mainini whom you used to gallivant around the country with. Don’t say anything about how the law has let her down. Keep quiet also when someone claims they were raped by your husband. This doesn’t concern you.
Oh and don’t forget to buy yourself a doctorate. Sorry I mean, to get yourself one through hard work and all-nighters. All First Ladies in Zimbabwe have to have one. We are a learned people.”
“How about the President. Shouldn’t I marry a President first for me to be First Lady?” I manage to squeeze some words in.
“Do you knit?” The woman getting some twisted braids asks me through the mirror. “It doesn’t matter if you can’t. I can give you a lady’s number, she knits very well. She can knit a scarf with the Zimbabwean flag’s colours. Throw it around a random guy and that will be your husband, the President. Make sure he wears it all the time though. Now let me give you the lady’s number.”
“Are you for real?” I couldn’t keep up the pretense of a normal conversation anymore.
“Did you think I was joking??? Mainini!”
About the Author
Godess Bvukutwa Chawatama is a Feminist Thinker. Writer. Fierce Mom.
This was absolutely hilarious, had me on the ground laughing.
“I smile that smile you smile when you want to ignore someone in a nice way.” I love this. I recognize this. What a lovely essay.