My granny (ambuya), Martha Gomba passed away in the early hours of Tuesday 6th December 2016. I am so soo sad because I will never see her smile again.
My first memory of my grandmother is when we went visiting her with my parents and my sister Neltah. I must have been 5 or so but that memory is so clear to me.We had gotten off the bus and we were walking towards her homestead. She was running because she had seen us. She must have been in her 50s or even 60s at that stage. I knew it was her. She ran with joy and a sense of playfullness. She wasn’t worried that she was running in a plowed field which was not yet racked flat. I was worried that she would fall and hurt herself and of course she didn’t fall. When she got to us she hugged us and she was bubbling with joy.
This was not my last time to see her run. She was short and always full of energy and a wacky sense of humour. In rural Zimbabwe where it was traditional for people to share food in the same plate she insisted on individual plates because she said, “people don’t wash their hands properly so it was unhygienic to share food dishes.”
Education was very important to my grandmother. She would grow groundnuts and sell them for cash. This is the money they used to pay school fees for their children. They gave a chance to all their children regardless of gender to get an education to the point they felt they could. As a result my mom became a nurse.
My first experience of a loving couple came from my grandparents. I was about 9 years old when I insisted on living with them because my sister Neltah had gone to live with them for a while because she was too young to go to school yet. Anyway I remember whenever he came back from his grinding mill, visiting the parish as a Roman catholic catechist, praying for the sick or many other things he did he always brought back a present for gran. It could be a bottle of Fanta, a wild fruit etc, he always brought her something back. Of course she would share with us. I also remember the teasing and laughter that was always in their home. It felt like a cocoon of love.
Her bravery was phenomenal, one day the river was overflowing after heavy rains but we had to go to school on the other side. Our grandpa just said he was not going to do something as foolhardy as trying to cross an overflowing river. Grandma took the two of us my cousin Collin and I across by herself with water nearly up to her head. After we crossed she told us not to come back but to go to my aunt instead so that we would be safe. Grandpa was tall and better built to take on that river than she was but her determination was profound.
I developed a deeper respect for her strength after my husband died some time back because she survived her dear husband’s untimely death. It takes guts and strength to be able to laugh and smile again after your lover, friend and partner dies too soon but it takes steely determination to survive his murder.
My mom married furthest from her home. She married into a different tribe. When I was born my grandma traveled by precarious buses to a place she didn’t know and arrived to see her daughter. She has been known to go to her children whenever they needed her no matter how far they were. She was always very protective of her children and grandchildren and she also encouraged us to work hard and be better all the time.
She was a leader of the community who gave love to those who would receive it and acceptance to those who wouldn’t. She didn’t hold a grudge and even managed to forgive her brother in law for killing her husband. She gave counsel and advice to people who needed it. Her home was open to anyone to those who needed food, shelter and love. She didn’t talk about being a christian, she showed it.
She was always financially independent. She raised chickens and goats that she would batter for cows. She was very entrepreneurial. Even though she never went to formal school she had a bank account that she signed with an X. Her mind was open to new advances and she would encourage us to move with the times.
She always dressed so elegantly and with style that once they went to a district event with her husband and she was asked to sit on the podium because the organisers thought she was the headmaster’s wife. (This was during the days when being a Headmaster accorded people VIP status.) This pleased my grandfather very much and nicknamed her; the headmaster’s wife.
She had 9 children, 39 grandchildren, 64 great grandchildren and 11 great great grandchildren. She was lucky to still have all her mental faculties until the end.
I could write forever about her but I want to end by saying, ambuya Gomba as we called her was a woman of strength, intelligence, impeccable smartness, hard worker, style, grace, love, unhu or ubuntu and kindness. She was open minded and wise. Her Feminine Elegance was palpable and always evident. We were all so lucky to have her in our lives. I will miss you so much ambuya. Rest in peace and look out for us.