Conrad Mupesa Herald Correspondent
It is at dawn and dawn is the obvious prelude to day. It is damn cold and a 60-year-old granny wakes up to prepare her grandchildren for school.
At first she is slow moving, yawning, scratching, rubbing her eyes with the back of her hand and stretching the body in a brave fight against the lethargy of sleep. It is a quarrel between the body and the mind.
After picking herself up, she goes outside to make a fire to warm the water and prepare food for the school children; her grandchildren.
She discovers it is silly cold. A hard but cold morning breeze wafts westwards and the wind brings with it a gothic fragrance of copper and cocking coal from the abandoned infrastructure of Mhangura of Mine.
But her mind is strong and focused. At the age of 6o, she must also prepare herself for school as soon as the grandchildren are gone.
She is in Grade 4 but starts lessons a bit later than her grandchildren.
The previous night has been long. She did her homework alongside her grandchildren, one in Grade Three and another in Grade Two.
Thereafter, she did dishes and pressed their uniforms, including her own. By the time she slept, it was almost mid night.
That granny Violet Muzengeza decided to go to school three years ago, which at that age is no mean feat, for, she is already in the afternoon of her life.
She had never been to school.
Her detractors would argue, she will be in Grade seven at the age of 63 and will sit for her O-Level examinations at the age of 67, A-Level at 69 and finish college at 72 or so.
“Am not worried about all that. I failed to go to school in Rhodesia because of the segregation and also because my father was a poor farm worker. He could not afford. He gave preference to my three brothers. I don’t wish to be employed at all but I wish to acquire knowledge. I want to be able to read and write like others. To comprehend issues,’’ she said.
Granny Muzengeza attends Mhangura Mine Primary School together with a few other grannies from the now defunct mining town.
She has a very strong mind and she is not stopping at anything.
“My favourite subjects are Mathematics and English. My favourite teachers are Mrs (Lydia) Kauta and Mrs (Catherine) Mudziviri,’’ she says.
And like any humble primary school pupil, she does not know her teachers’ first names.
The lockdown which was introduced on March 30 has also done little to affect her zeal to acquire more educational knowledge. She has not stopped reading.
She has taken advantage of the lockdown to use the knowledge she has acquired and also pestering her grandchildren for school related material.
Even the untimely death of her classmate Mr Karombo (late 50s) in December last year, failed to deter her.
“I am a woman who was brought up to be a hard working wife and provide for my family. My husband died but am soldiering on,” she said.
“Although I am passing through a rough patch, I am determined to access knowledge and grateful to the Government for allowing us this opportunity.”
“We grew up knowing that women do all household work, which is the reason why we never surrender.”
She, however, admits that the domestics chores and old age have an effect on their concentration in class.
“Normally, we feel tired and sleepy during lessons, maybe it is because of age. Perhaps it is the fact that we do not have enough time to rest,” she said.
“I normally do my homework as I will be preparing supper which is the only time that I feel is appropriate because of my workload and amnesia,” she said.
Born in the farms in Kadoma where her father worked as farm-worker, she got married to Kupukai Muzengeza in 1979 after the two met at Highbury Farm in Mhangura where her father had relocated to.
Muzengeza was working at Mhangura mine.
Mbuya Muzengeza gave birth to four children (two boys and two girls) and three are still living after one boy died in 2019.
She has eight grandchildren and stays with two.