Happy Father’s Day to my dad and to all men who, throughout my life, have played a fatherly role.
I am very lucky and blessed that my father is alive and has watched me grow right from day one. A total academic he is who spends a lot of his time reading, studying and researching.
When I was born he was a secondary school teacher at Mt St Mary’s in Wedza and I have been told by Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe Secretary General, Raymond Majongwe, that my father was a strict disciplinarian who took no nonsense from students and was very passionate about his job. Mr Majongwe recalls having been punished by my father several times and at the same time he said my father introduced him to the world of politics shortly after Samora Machel’s death in 1986.
With my mother away at Mpilo School of nursing, I spent a lot of time with my father, although today the memory of that time is but a blurr in my mind. What I remember though is that he instilled in me a culture of reading at a very young age and that did a lot to my intellectual capacity.
From grade 1 at Belvedere Primary School to grade 7, my father always told me that if I won an academic prize he would buy me a bicycle. I won prizes each and every year and I was even a prefect – but the bicycle just never came. He told me that my marks were not good enough even when I came first in class. I wondered if he understood that attaining 100% in an exam was absurd and if I tried to tell him that he would still tell me I could do it.
Born into a Catholic family, my father was and still is a very religious man. One time when my mother was at night duty, i pretended to be sick and said I could not go to church. He left me and went with everyone else and when he came back and started singing all songs that had been sung at Mass and told me what the priest had preached about. His aim was to make me feel guilty for not having attended Mass – he succeeded and from then on I knew that every Sunday has to be held holy and Mass respected. He is one of the few men, besides priests, who I know who never miss Sunday Mass no matter what.
Influenced by his religious values, my father ensured that all his children attended Catholic mission schools: my sister went to Mukaro Girls High School in Masvingo, I went to Monte Cassino Girls High School in Macheke, Tafadzwa Gadzirayi went to Chikwingwizha in Gweru and Trevor Gadzirayi went to St Ignatius College. (All schools are single sex schools).
At Monte Cassino, for 6 years, I had another father in the form of the headmaster, Mr Chingonzoh. To this day I wonder who was more strict between him and my father. No matter how well you performed in school, even being top of the class, he would sign off your report with this phrase, “Aim higher..”
Taking that report home was a nightmare because my father would assume that because Mr Chingonzo said I should aim higher then it meant I was not working hard enough and “playing” instead of studying. Anyone who learnt at Monte would agree that there really was no room to “play,” our motto was “Ora et labora,” translated to “Pray and work.”
It’s either you were in church or you were studying, unless of course you were cutting grass as punishment for speaking in Shona outside a Shona lesson, or for spelling mistakes or for being late for a meal at the dining hall. The “hard” life at Monte got me convinced that my father did not love me for having sent me to this “prison.” However, today I stand tall and proud for what Monte Cassino made me to be, and I’m forever grateful.
At the end of Form 4 I scored a majority of As and my clan was extremely proud of me. My father was more concerned as to why I had a B in Geography yet I had won a subject prize in the subject. I remember my aunt trying to tell him to celebrate with the rest of the family but that B grade totally disappointed him. A level was tough for me because I started Accounting at that level and it was quite difficult for me, Mathematics was not a walk in the park neither. Those two years saw my father lecturing me for hours and hours telling me to “shape up!!” The longest lecture I received from him started at 6.30pm and lasted till 11.47pm. It was not because he had finished talking but I had yawned and he took it as a sign that I had not been concentrating on what he had been saying. So he just stood up and left the room – those were tough times.
By the time I was in university he had softened up a little but again my grades were never good enough for him. Though surprisingly he did not object my involvement in student leadership and politics – all he wanted was for me to excel in whatever I took up but to never lose sight on the ultimate goal – to attain a degree in Accounting. I did, he was ok with that…. But it was not a magna cum laude (first class)..
My choice of work after graduation caused a lot of friction between us as he expected me to further my studies through enrolling for a
Masters or Articles to get me to be a Chartered Accountant. I followed my passion instead…
My father is very religious, very focused and very academic. He has more than 12 academic publications and his CV always takes me time to read and understand – it is too rich.
Today we seem to be almost on the same level of understanding although he still expects a whole lot from me. I keep trying and hope one day I will be that girl that he will be proud of. Barack Obama said that every man is trying to live up to his father’s expectations or to make up for his father’s mistakes – I am trying to live up to mine’s expectations.
However, never mind my mistakes or achievements – I was born to a teacher, and will proudly die as a Professor’s daughter, for he continues with his education and is about to complete his Doctorate.
And when you meet me you will call me The Professor’s daughter.