Maturure defies disability to build strong bond
Patrick Chitumba-Bulawayo Bureau
BEING wheelchair-bound with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) did not stop Chengetai Nesta Maturure (33) from proposing love to able-bodied Euphrasia Dzingisa (36).
From their very first meeting, the love birds knew that only death could separate them.
Maturure was born with OI, which is an inherited (genetic) bone disorder that is present at birth. It is also known as brittle bone disease.
A child born with OI may have soft bones that break (fracture) easily, bones that are not formed normally, and other problems.
Maturure has been wheelchair-bound since he was seven and is assisted by his wife to move around.
He is popularly known as “Ras Zhen” and is a popular vendor who operates from under a tree near Kaprinis Bar in Gweru’s central business district (CBD).
The ever-smiling and talkative Maturure uses the mango tree shed as his vending site.
He has been on the streets for nine years after graduating from Midlands State University (MSU) with a History and International Studies degree.
His face is now familiar at the site from Sunday to Thursday. You won’t find him on Fridays because he will be at church with his family.
The father of one boy, who is in Grade Four, is a proud Johane Masowe eChishanu sect member and sells Jumbo snacks, cigarettes, sweets, and assorted maputi among other foodstuffs.
Ras Zhen also sells iced watches, phone chargers, batteries and other electrical gadgets usually used to accessorise smartphones.
His life inspires many people who often see him sitting in his wheelchair selling an assortment of merchandise as he wears a friendly smile.
“Being a wheelchair user didn’t stop me from asking my able-bodied wife out when I met her in 2013 in Gweru. When I met her, it was love at first sight,” he said.
Maturure said while marriage is not a bed of roses, they have been committed to each other ever since and are now blessed with a child.
“We’re blessed with one child who is doing Grade Four at Muwani Primary School in Chirumanzu. A lot of people ask me how I’m coping, you know. A lot of people say it’s weird for them to see a person like me being in a beautiful relationship like the one I have,” he said
Maturure said his wife takes care of him in all aspects.
“I can’t walk on my own and my lovely wife takes me from point A to point B. She is the one who pushes my wheelchair wherever I go. We are always together, you know,” he said.
Maturure was born in 1990 at Shurugwi District Hospital.
“At three weeks after my birth, my mother said she left me on the bed in her bedroom and when she came back, I was crying and seemed to be in pain. So she took me to Shurugwi District Hospital where she was accused of having fractured my legs,” narrated Maturure.
Following the incident, he said, doctors put plasters on his legs and they went back home.
Maturure said after some time, he fractured his legs once again.
“This time the doctors referred my parents to Mpilo Central Hospital for specialist assessment. It was at Mpilo where I was diagnosed with OI,” he said.
Maturure said at about two-and-a-half years, he started going to Jairos Jiri Association for Rehabilitation of the Disabled and Blind in Southerton, Harare.
“I sat for my Grade Seven examinations and attained 10 units. I was then enrolled at Pakame High School in Shurugwi where I sat for my ‘O’ Level examinations and got six passes. I proceeded to ‘A’ Level at the same school and got nine points,” he said.
Maturure said he enrolled at MSU where he would see himself starting to offer printing and typing services to his fellow students for a fee.
He said with a degree in History and International Studies attained at MSU, he hasn’t been fortunate enough to find meaningful employment, a development that led him to start his vending business.
“Soon after graduating from MSU, I started looking for employment in the formal sector but my efforts didn’t yield favourable results. I remained a loafer, poverty was creeping into my life and the need to take action arose. It is from this background that I ventured into this small-scale business enterprise,” said Maturure.
He is now running lucrative vending stalls with his wife.
“We have two vending sites. On one end I sell foodstuffs, and right here I sell electrical gadgets, and watches. I would want to be in the formal sector and at the same time have a side hustle. But this is what I am doing now with my wife. We stay in Ascot suburb, Kugomba, and we raise rentals and school fees from vending on the streets of Gweru,” said Maturure.
Dzingisa said some people have called her marriage a ‘joke’, while others accuse her of using her husband to get sympathy from well-wishers.
“It’s a challenge because he’s not able to do everything by himself and that’s when I come in to assist him. He’s my husband and I am proud of him,” she said.
Dzingisa said she thanks God for her husband every morning as he is a loving and responsible man who provides for his family.
“We’re a tag team, we’re always together from the time we wake up and when I push him in his wheelchair to and from work. What I know is that he is God-given and only death can separate us,” she said.