5. Morality over Culture

‘Was? You speak of her as if she's dead. Father, you're a man. You once told me that it is better for a man to lose his life than his dignity.’

‘I know I did, Tawana but...’ he shrugged hopelessly.

‘But what? Father, another man has just taken your wife!’

‘What can I do about it? It’s our culture!’ he defended himself.

‘No it's not...it's you! Morality conquers culture and you know that.’ He jumped off the cart and ran into the multitude of guests leaving him sitting alone in the cart.

Tawana was greatly frustrated. He was infuriated by this turn of events. What was once his happy family had now been driven apart. So much chaos caused by one man:  Chief Mbada! His eyes were blurred with anger and his skin crawled. If he ever got the chance again, he thought, he would kill the chief himself.

‘So, you think that since your mother is marrying the chief you shall be above us?’

He had bumped into three boys who were each almost twice his size.

‘I never said that...you did.’

‘But you were obviously thinking it, you son of a witch!’

Tawana lost it. He gave the bully a punch on the jaw before he was grabbed from behind by the other two, lifted up and thrown to the ground. 

They began punching and kicking him severely. ‘You’ll regret that, you tiny rat!’ one of them shouted. The beating continued for about half a minute before a man from the crowd jumped in to save him.

The man was young but had two missing front teeth. He was also skinny and quite tall. He began dusting him up. ‘You’re about to become royalty and you’re already getting involved in brawls? You should set a better example!’

Tawana stared at the boys as they walked away, scornfully laughing. ‘The conclusion of this day shall give way to my fate.’

The man squinted, ‘What?’

He gave him a quick glance then shrugged the man's hands off his shoulders then he walked away, deeper into the multitude.

Tawana had never experienced such a depressing day in his entire fourteen years of existence. The wedding ceremony, to him, was revolting. He was offered food everywhere he turned but he turned it down with a frown on his face. The food though looked enticing. Everything had been cooked to rich taste. There was both boiled and fried goat and beef, milk straight from the cow’s udder, cooked vegetables, and fruits: pawpaws, matohwe, guavas, mangoes, so juicy they looked like they were going to pop. Beer was being brewed by the old women of the village almost at the far end of the homestead. Tawana did not care. As far as he was concerned, accepting the food would be accepting defeat, which was the last thing on his mind.

Meanwhile, Farai was sitting on a big log with six other men passing amongst each other a gourd of beer. His attention was on the chief. He looked to be in a deep discussion with his advisors, probably arranging the final details of his marriage to another man's wife. This thought alone almost inspired Farai to jump from the log and go for the fool's throat. They would kill him, but not until he would have killed their chief first.

Suddenly, the horn was blown and everyone began moving closer to the chief.

‘The marriage of our own chief of Matanda village, Chief Mbada to Tsitsi Masimba is about to begin!’ This was the master of the wedding ceremony. He looked quite old.

Tsitsi stood still, her head still bowed low in sorrow as though expecting a swift decapitation, as she stood in front of the chief.

Farai and Tawana stood side by side in the centre of the crowd of villagers watching on, sharing each other’s anger. 

The entire ceremony was like a nightmare to Farai. The words spoken by the master of ceremony were like a different language to him. The crowning of Tsitsi with the royal crown and robe was disgusting but then came the merging of the mouths, a disgusting act which surprisingly did not disgust anyone there. For the second time the chief’s dirty lips were smothering his wife’s, slobbering and slopping them like a mutt drinking water from a bowl.

The villagers began ululating and dancing. They were clearly ignorant of the pain he was feeling. He placed his hand on Tawana’s shoulder. The boy looked up at him.

‘Morality conquers culture,’ Farai said.

Tawana and his father had been moved into the guest hut and Farai had now become even more awful-quiet. He kept pretending to be doing something; touching this and that trying to avoid eye contact with his son as if he did not want Tawana to see the state he was in.


He ignored him and continued to go about his business.

‘How could you!’ He looked at his father in spite.

Farai stopped, bent down on his toes- pretending to rub them. ‘How could I what, Tawana?’ Farai was now facing him in a daring sort of surprised look.

‘How could you just stand there and watch your wife marry another man?’

‘What did you want me to do? Jump in and get myself killed?’

‘Your wife…my mother, was taken by another man right before our eyes…and you just stood there! You watched your dignity die.’

‘If it’s that easy then why didn’t you try it?’

‘Really? Are you serious? I tried before, remember? I almost got killed for it but you tried to stop me whilst you were eating the dirt the chief walked on.'

‘I have a plan.’

‘It’s too late for that, father. She’s not your wife anymore. As far as life is concerned she’s a stranger to you now.’

‘I don’t care, Tawana!’ He had now grabbed him by the shoulders. ‘You were right; morality conquers culture and I’m going to get my dignity back.’ He walked back to the edge of the hut. He put one hand on his head and his knuckles on his hips.

Tawana looked at his tattoo. He did not know why but he thought he would give it a try. ‘Father..?’

He sighed, ‘What is it, Tawana?’

‘This tattoo. What is it?’

‘It’s just…a birthmark.’

‘I’m not four, father.’

He turned around to face him, ‘Don’t ever ask questions about that mark, Tawana,’ he sternly warned him.

Related Chapters

Latest Chapter