Nonduduzo Ncube is a 30-year-old author who was born in Beitbridge, a border town in the province of Matabeleland South, Zimbabwe. However, she was raised in Bulawayo, the second-largest city. She went to Mpopoma High School and was raised by very strict parents.
“I had my daughter at 18 while I was at college, which then led to my second child at 21,” Nonduduzo told The Weight She Carries. “That’s why I got married earlier than planned. So, we can say it was a marriage for the wrong reason. The father of my kids was also young then, and as we grew up, our interests became very different, and things didn’t work out.”
Nonduduzo said the relationship was okay before the pregnancy. But the new responsibilities meant they had to grow up faster.
“Everything changed. It was no longer about us. We had to become responsible adults as we now had a responsibility. It was no longer as rosy. My parents were not pleased, obviously, but they did not give up on me. It took some time for them to get used to the fact that I had disappointed them.
“My family is patriarchal and very cultural and they believed that customs, such as ukucolwa (which is the official welcoming of a bride into her new family by slaughtering livestock) and idamage (an amount paid to a girl’s family if she is impregnated out of wedlock), should be paid,” she said. “But that did not happen since the father of my child was unemployed. He was also not ready for marriage and the responsibilities that come with it.”
“As time went on, we became very different and drifted apart more each day. When that happens, love can quickly vanish in a relationship, and that’s exactly what happened. We no longer cared for one another and staying together was torture for both of us. We fought over big and petty issues up until I could not tolerate it anymore. I succumbed to depression and lost some self-esteem.”
“When I got pregnant for the second time, my parents had stopped supporting me for a while to teach me a lesson. After all, I was the one who put myself in the mess, so I had to learn the hard way. Little did they know that I had learnt my lesson long back. I knew I wanted to go back home, but I couldn’t because I thought my parents didn’t want me back. So, I stayed and suffered in silence, which contributed to my depression.”
“The problem with such a situation is it becomes difficult to walk away. I was so defensive of him whenever people advised me to leave, hoping and thinking he would change for the better, but he didn’t. And at those few moments when I wanted to walk, I would ask myself, ‘But who will want me now after having two children?’ Then I would brush that thought aside and stay.”
Nonduduzo’s mother heard her daughter was having challenges in her marriage. By then, Nonduduzo had stopped working and was dependent on him. Her parents agreed to take her back home.
“If it wasn’t for my parents’ support, I would probably be still in that relationship or dead by now because depression is a serious condition that can also end your life. Because of lack of affection in the marriage, he became emotionally abusive and neglected me and the children. I had financial challenges to the extent that sometimes I could sleep on an empty stomach while breastfeeding. Luckily, my then-parents-in-law would sometimes help whenever they could. But it was not enough,” she said.
Nonduduzo stated that she decided to walk out after she realized that the relationship was not only unhealthy for her, but also for the children as well.
She spoke about how difficult it can be to struggle with mental health without adequate support.
“I think the problem we have is that people do not understand depression. Just because I looked fine, my family thought I needed more time to suffer. They then took me when I looked visibly unwell and had lost weight. Some people are not as lucky. Depression kills them, and by the time family comes in to try and help, [it’s] too late.”
Nonduduzo recalled moments where she felt depressed and as though she had let herself down because before her pregnancy, she had high ambitions.
“I had dreams which were shattered due to the pregnancy. The social side of my life was also affected as I even lost some friends who did not want to be influenced by me. But then, it was not all bad. I was happy to have my child because I knew the baby was going to be a part of me forever,” she said. “It gave me strength to know that I was going to have my own child. I think I handled it very well because I had the right attitude. I told myself, ‘Ukuthi asechithekile awasabutheki’ (you cannot cry over spilt milk). I had to plan what to do next, which made me look for ways to earn income and take care of myself and my child so that I did not become a burden to anyone.”
Nonduduzo’s first novel “Umhlaba Ungihlanekele” has been nominated for an award under the category Outstanding Ndebele Literary Work in the Bulawayo Arts Awards.
“I never expected “Umhlaba Ungihlanekele” – my first novel – to get published. This is one of the best achievements, and I am really proud of myself.
When asked what inspired her to start writing, Nonduduzo had the following to say:
“I got much of the inspiration from my experiences. Writing helped me to vent out all the emotional burden that was buried in me. I also learnt a lot about myself during the process. I see myself with more books under my name, educating and inspiring people. I believe that the stories I write not only entertain, but they are also informative and they advocate first and foremost, it is important to take your time and discover yourself.
“Marriage can be a very special union if it is between people who know themselves, respect and love each other. However, it can also be like hell if both husband and wife or both of them are still yet to find themselves individually and immature,” she said.
She is also fortunate to have a that is family supportive of her writing.
“I come from a family of artists, so they understand the importance of my writing and they support me a lot. This inspires me to keep pushing because I know that if I don’t work hard enough, I’ll be letting them down. I’m also encouraged by the huge support that I’m getting from Bulawayo’s people.”
Nonduduzo also provides stationery supply and administration services for Nol-Nat Investments (PVT) LTD trading as Sauvignon.
“The fact that I’m successfully running my own business also seems like an achievement to me because I’m pushing despite the economic situation,” she said.
You can find Nonduduzo on Facebook.