By Sarah Jaravaza

The 6th of May 2019 was a momentous and exciting day for me. After many years of having to live with family for various reasons, I finally moved into my own place. Of course there was the usual headache of moving and packing. Moving is so stressful and exhausting, but the best advice I ever got was to make sure I made my bed first when I moved into a new place.

Not everyone was happy with my move. After all I am a thirty something individual, it was more than time for me to have my own space. Weirdly enough others were cautious of my decision and even would ask, “What did your parents say?” It’s funny that in 2019, people in Zimbabwe will raise an eyebrow at a single woman living on her own. I thought that people were more open minded.  Especially because I am employed and I help out my family when I can. I was really shocked to encounter people who thought, that me living alone was taboo.

Curious as to why I was encountering such negative perceptions, I asked a cousin what he thought about me moving out. He told me there is a belief in Zimbabwean society that single women living alone get up to all sorts of shenanigans. He also said that when the time came for me to think of marriage, my having lived alone would become an issue. With bride price in Africa a controversial issue, I started to feel a whole lot of indignation build up inside me. Here I was, celebrating the fact that I have my own space to read uninterrupted (I am a proud bibliophile), but people were now questioning my character? I make it a point not to judge people, but I felt like people were judging me unfairly.

To be a woman in this wondrous and challenging country called Zimbabwe, carries many burdens and joys. It has taken me a long time to learn to love, and put myself first in spite of all my flaws. A big part of that has been practicing self- love, self-preservation and self-care. I realize now that no matter what you do, no matter how successful you become, people will always find something to criticize. People speak of the so called ‘black tax’ – African children tend to have to support their parents significantly when they are working. I do not consider it a black tax as such, but am grateful that I can help out my family, and still pursue my own dreams. I know for many, this is not an option. I would like to add at this point, that it was not an easy decision to make – my moving out I mean, because my mother has been ill for some time and I have been a major part of her care. The guilt! Thankfully, over the past couple of months, I can see that my mother is happy and supportive of me.

There will always be challenges to overcome, but I am really enjoying the move to my new place. I have moved from the city centre to the suburbs. It is a new atmosphere, and it really does feel like the air is cleaner here. It is priceless to have a place that I can call my own, a blank canvas. Hopefully I will be writing many wonderful chapters of my life in this new place.