It starts at my grandmother's house in Luveve, the north west of Bulawayo, near Matebeleland North. I remember it as though it was yesterday.
Planting maize with my Gogo had become a season past time I looked forward to even at the tender age of five. She would go ahead of me, digging the holes needed and I would follow with a bag of corn seed dropping 2 into each hole. It was one of my favourite things to do with her. I would follow her around the garden so much, I was given me a small patch of garden of my own, underneath the lemon tree by the front gate and I would plant any and every seed I could find in that patch.
Gogo's garden was filled with fruit trees and vegetables. At the front was a lemon tree (which had a birds nest - I enjoyed climbing up to see the chicks, I would leave small batches underneath the tree to help the birds build their nest). There was a small guava tree by the corner which was the most sought after fruit in the garden! One season, I ate all the fruit from this tree and got such a reprimanding. This wouldn't be the last time, I was in trouble because of fruit trees. We didn't have TV during the day because the stations shut, so I would be outside playing from 9am to 3pm, my favourite snack was that tree along with any other ripe fruit in the garden. There was a mango tree in the middle of the front garden. It produced those thick meaty mangos that turn reddish when ripe. The smell would catch me every time I returned from school.
Between the trees Gogo would plant her favourite plants such as bird of prey and african daisies. And there was a flowering plant which had coral/red flowers which contained pools of nectar within them. I loved the aloe plants too and small flowering ones. I would sit plucking the head, peeling the petal to lick out the nectar. It explains why I love edible flowers and floral flavouring to this day. Then alongside the house was a the maize planting which sometimes would include sugarcane but sugar cane required so much water, we kept it at the back of the house. By the back/side of the house was two tall papaya trees which where fun to beat down and catch when the fruit turning yellow and ready to eat. Then there was the chicken hut, which at one time was filled with turkeys. The hut was part brick build with the top half made of wire with an asbestos roof. A repurpose gate was used for the entrance. As a 5 year old I was small enough to enter the hut whilst my aunt distracted the animals whilst I collected fresh eggs for breakfast. At that age, the turkeys were probably the same size as me so I remember having to be fast!
My Gogo would plant the green plants at the back of the house. Spinach (the one with thick white-ish stalks and big textured leaves), tomatoes, pumpkins and spring greens too. Pumpkin leaf cooked with cream was one of my favourite foods with pap. We also always had a food pit there. It was used for compost, everything was so organic I remember sorting through it with bare hands. Cotton items might end up here too. All the food waste from the house was thrown into this dug out put at the back. Then finally there was the main source of sugarcane at the back. Because sugarcane is water hungry, it was near the kitchen so dishwater was thrown out to water them. I remember leaving out buckets of water when it was dry season, so when it rained, in order to use that water for washing clothes, washing the floor (yes, we washed our floors) and re-watering the garden. At that time, the rain water was also fresh enough to drink.
In the kitchen, all of our pots where fireproof pots because if there was no electricity, you needed to be ready to go cook outside. It's quite strange noticing this in retrospect that all of our plates and cups where made from enamelled tin. They are very popular in Zimbabwe. The nice glasses and plates where placed on display in the china dresser in the living room. There is a lot of utility in the kitchen. The rice sacks where reused at the market to bring back mbhabhayila aka purple sweet potatoes or beans or maize or more rice from the market. Most the rice was from asia so the white woven sacks with bright green and red lettering would often be repurposed as a mat to sit outside. Most of the food was bought in bulk, especially the dry foods and tinned foods. We would dry our own food. The maize from the garden got dried, so would the fish from the market. We would eat a lot of dried greens as well such as mfushwa which I have not idea what the name is in English. I love dried greens for their strong green taste, which often picks up a smokyness from the strong heat. Meat was expensive, so we at mostly plant based - maize, greens and tomatoes being the most consumed.
It is traditional in our culture for a young lady to grow up under the guardianship of an older woman typically her grandmother. My mother had the same experience as I. It is the family matriarch that teaches young maidens about life and the passing on of traditional knowledge. Even in my tender years I remember sitting on the veranda at the front of the house talk and listening to her telling me stories that spoke of how life is. Gogo was a teacher by profession (the T.I.C Teacher in Charge. The role of the most senior teacher after the Head Teacher and Deputy Head Teacher) so it was innate for her to be a conduit to wisdom. An even then I had an insatiable hunger for knowledge and the experience was completely immersive. As I still speak my mother tongue much of what I know I cannot yet translate into English but it is this intrinsic knowledge that I reference to in the architecture of this brand.
Spiritually hierarchies change after the passing of a beloved matriarch such as my Gogo, which happened in January 2019. Orphans are not permitted in my culture and therefore after the passing of the head of a bloodline, the bloodline in inherited by the siblings or other living relatives. My grandmother’s younger sisters become my Gogos and the one who inherited the spiritual mantle is living in Harare. I am incredibly close to her and went to live with her during the latter part of 2019 in her guardianship. She is as much of a wealth of information as my Gogo. So when I talk about my Gogo in present tense, this is whom I am referring to. It is my understanding that the mantle chooses whom it shall sit upon as the generations pass and it shall be me as generations pass. Which is what makes this business a calling for me and a very intuitive process.