Muzhingi's trials, tribulations

HARARE - Imagine the curse of being born poor to an extent that even your biological mother does not want to have anything to do with you.

Such is the burden Zimbabwe ultra-marathon ace Stephen Muzhingi, pictured, had as he fought tooth and nail to walk out of adversity.

The smile he wears presently is as genuine as it can be but deep down he is still hurting for being abandoned by his mother following the death of his father while he was only in Grade 2.

But above all this he remains grateful that by default he was able to reunite with his mother after she had read of his fame through the newspapers.

“After the death of my father, I went in the custody of my uncle who sent me to Chivhu to herd his cattle while he stayed in Harare. I was just in Grade 2 then but that meant I was dropping out of school to take care of his livestock and to quote his own words he said ‘since I was able to read and write what was of importance was for me kuti ndidye sadza ndikure kana ndakura ndozo zvionera’,” Muzhingi told the Daily News on Sunday.

“Because I was now out of school I used to run up and down in my school uniform until the headmaster of Mashambamuto Primary, one Mr Zvaita noticed me, pulled over his car and enquired why I was always up and about while the kids of my age where in school. I told him that I had been made a herd boy; my uncle said he could not afford paying school fees for me.

“He was taken aback by what I told him, he summoned my stepmother to school the following morning. We went there together with her not because she meant well but she just wanted to see if I was telling the truth and also know what the headmaster was up to.”

Muzhingi said he was admitted in school that very day but would do odd menial jobs for the school head to supplement his fees but still his family never cared about his new lease of life for all they cared for was to see him herd cattle.

“But my mother, step mother and uncle didn’t care about that and during that period (when he was readmitted in school) my mother had relocated to Harare and I didn’t even know where she was. My uncle was also in Harare and said that I should just go and herd his cattle, he had 67 beasts but found it difficult for him to pay fees for me, that’s the kind of rejection I faced after my father’s death,” he added.

“So I devised a plan where we collectively joined forces with the other young boys in the community where we would have one person herding about 120 cattle for the whole week, we were 17 in total so I would only miss one week of school in January because of this plan and they didn’t know that I was going to school, they thought I was taking care of cattle. They only knew I had been at school after I showed them my results. I had passed four subjects having to balance between menial jobs and running and I was asking them how many of those they paid school fees for had managed to record in their exams.”

As time flew, his mother’s life was also getting wasted in Harare and it was only after he had won his first Comrades Marathon race that she took notice of the abandoned son.

“My mother only got satisfied that indeed I was still surviving after I won my race in 2009 and had bought a house in Chitungwiza, she looked for my number and managed to get in touch with me. She said ‘where are you my son’ you know that’s the most difficult time in anyone’s life after being disowned and abandoned by your own mother and only for her to come back because you had somehow made it in life,” Muzhingi said with some deep introspection.

“I gave her directions to my house and picked her up from Makoni area. I wasn’t too pleased with what I saw. My mother was literally on the verge of death, she had grown thinner, she was very ill but I took care of her, placed her under medication using the money that I had won in South Africa. I really tried my best to take care of her putting behind her checkered past and what she did to me then but sadly she passed away two years later although she had fully regained her health.”

Muzhingi said it was indeed a difficult pill to swallow at first to be able to embrace his mother after all those years of rejection but acknowledged such is the life we live in.

“Such is the life we find ourselves living in, we meet so many challenges and that happens. If I were to be harsh on her it would not have made any sense, no matter how much she had wronged me she remained my dear mother, the one who laboured for nine months carrying me in her womb,” he added.

“I was happy and proud to see her but that same woman that I called my mother once told me to go to Murewa to heard cattle, she was trying to get me out of school but I stood my ground and told her that I would rather suffer than being subjected to life in the rural areas.

“She said ‘if you choose to suffer its fine but don’t ever write to me, don’t look for me and don’t phone me’, so I went out there and suffered because I wanted to be educated. Education is very important and in this day and age what would my life have been, now my eldest son is in Grade 4, how was I going to be able to communicate with him?”

Not all stories have a happy ending but for Muzhingi he is glad that despite all the agony he went through in the face of rejection, he remained resolute and focussed on the crown and now he has managed to create a future for his family.

He is now moving towards forming an academy that will ensure that one day when he retires the nation will continue to churn out more and more Muzhingis.

Above all he says he is honoured to have been there for her mother at her time of need although she disappeared leaving her poor child to fend for his school fees right from primary school up to his secondary education.

Comments (1)

Mwari vakatendeka ,ndikokuita kwaMWARI vedu ,vano simudza marombe kubvamuhuruva vachiagadza nemachinda. They is a great need for you to continue to praise and honor to GOD for his goodness and mercy that he showed you from the day you were born up to now .Musanete kuita zvakanaka ,May the good LORD continue to shower you and your family with blessing until thy kingdom come....

Pastor E C Nyamaropa - 11 June 2018

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