It's Layered is a podcast by Zimbabwean girls, Amanda & Rumbi, living on two different continents and keeping their long-distance friendship of over 20 years thriving! Join them as they delve deeper into life, love and all things under the sun because in life... zvine malayers!!
The following episode was recorded on 9/4/21 (Happy 40th Beyoncé!)
Amanda's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/i.am.whom.i.am/
Rumbi's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rumbidzayiishe/
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Vongai: Hello Hello and welcome to another episode of Zim excellence. Today is a special day not only because we are recording on Beyonce’s 40th birthday, happy birthday, Beyonce. Today I'm joined by two guests. Two fabulous women who met during their days at Peterhouse girls school and have been friends for over 20 years, despite now living on different continents. These ladies are also the co-hosts of their very own podcast called It's Layered. The show covers a layered topics such as classism in Zimbabwe, what it means to be Black Zimbabwean women living in the diaspora, and even getting married in line with cultural tradition (roora) because y'all zvinemalayers. With me in the virtual studio is Amanda Mundege, a qualified forensic toxicologist living in Melbourne, Australia who also launched her own styling business called “I am who I am” styling. I also have with me Rumbidzayi Dube who is a marketing specialist turned English language teacher living in Budweiz, Czech Republic. She is also the social media and strategic manager for the Black African women that work which is a media platform that seeks to amplify Black African voices to be seen, be heard, be inspired. Please welcome y'all. Amanda and Rumbi.
Amanda & Rumbi: Hey what an intro! Where are the airhorns? Wow, such a lovely intro. Thank you. Oh my gosh, thank you so much. So good to see you Vongai.
Vongai: Y'all are so so welcome. So I'm just gonna backtrack a little bit so that the listeners are able to identify whose voice is whose. So Amanda, please share your beautiful voice with us.
Amanda: Hi guys.
Vongai: And Rumbi.
Rumbi: Hello, everybody.
Vongai: There we go. So we got two goddesses in the studio today. Ladies, it is so great to have you on the show. I am a huge, huge believer in women's empowerment and supporting each other especially as Black women. So I’m so glad to have you here so that we can prove to the listeners and also the Zimbabwean community at large that there was no competition between us.
Amanda: None at all.
Rumbi: Say it again.
Vongai: No competition between us, we support each other.
Amanda: Yes, as it should be as it should be.
Rumbi: 1,000% 1,000%
Vongai: Love it. Love it. So I literally have all of the questions for you. And I feel like they need to do a documentary on your friendship. Cos y’all… 20 years ?! Like I had to do the math last night. I was like, if I was in a friendship for over 20 years, it would have started - and this is me aging myself it’s whatever- when I was nine. I was like not I'm not friends with anyone I knew when I was nine, except for like, my childhood best friend. Well, the last time I saw her when I was when I was eight because I've moved from the UK but we're not as close we just kind of be like oh, Happy Birthday Happy Birthday, but like, you know. And I'm just like yo, it’s just so incredible to not only be friends that long, but also you know still being friends long distance like I get it as a third culture kid and having to move constantly. I'm like, it's hard. So as you know, I always want to talk origin story, but this is a special episode where we're just going off the script. In your case, I would love to hear the story about how you both met from your different perspectives. So set the scene for us ladies. Who would like to go first? Amanda? Rumbi?
Amanda: I would like to start first. I’ll go first, I’ll go first. I wish Rumbi and this is meant with like the most love I don't even know when I started being friends with this amazing girl.
Amanda: like I don't even know when I can't even say this specific moment but I just knows since I saw her in Form one year 2001 we've been friends ever since. Like it's amazing to me now when I reflect, I'm like wow 20 years. If does not feel like 20 years at all, it feels so effortless to be Rumbi's friend, I mean, she's amazing. So it's like, so easy just to keep their friendship going. But like, only now when we started the podcast, people are like, what? 20 years? I'm like, Oh, it's actually a mean feat. Like, yeah, we did that. But it's been so easy.
Rumbi: Yeah, I have to agree. I can't picture as much as I was saying she was being Savage. I can't actually remember the moment. I think we did a lot of things together, whether it was extracurricular, we had classes together. So somewhere in that mix, we obviously got to talking. I have to agree. Like, honestly, I can't imagine having gone through high school without Amanda in that picture and then having this friendship last. It just has felt very genuine. Very, like it was very organic, very, almost like soul sisters that meets come meet again, like from another lifetime. Like, it's hard to put it. It's hard to explain it to people, I think they want the recipe or like how it's Yeah.
Vongai: [laughter] We want the ingredients!!
Amanda: [laughter] Yeah they do, they do. It’s so funny because Facebook will like call us out because they have memories. And I’ll be like ah look at Rumbi she used to write on my page back in the day. Back when we used to write on Facebook pages. Guys, I'm showing my age, but that's okay.
Vongai: Let me just say back in the day, it was like such an honor. If like someone wrote on your page. I think the first days of Facebook or at least in 2006 when you people became friends there used to be a portion where you could say how you became friends or how you met or something?
Rumbi: Yes ! Vongai: And then that disappeared like so many cool I think aspects of Facebook disappeared and were replaced with garbage like advertising.
Amanda: Yeah. Exactly.
Vongai: And pages! Like if you liked the same page as you were like, Oh my gosh, this boy likes the same page that I liked. We're both into Good Charlotte. Oh, my gosh. [laughter]
Amanda: How true.
Rumbi: The expose!
Amanda: Yeah and then you’d have statuses Amanda is dot, dot dot. And then you have to fill in how you’re feeling? Oh my gosh.
Rumbi: Yes and I used to literally type out how I was feeling. I'm like, calm down. It's not the end of the world. It's not that deep.
Vongai: I like, this is going off on a tangent. But I like, you know, Facebook memories will call you out. And then you'll see posts from like, 2008 or something. And the way I used to just write it was just like, Yo, what, what was grammar? What is this shortening, shortening thing? We did? But it was like, it wasn't because we didn't know grammar. It was like because it was cool to write that way.
Amanda: Cool! right that way.
Vongai: And before like, emojis were a thing. We were doing emoticons and you do them by hand.
Rumbi: Oh, yes. Yes.
Vongai: Ellipsis bracket, smiley face : ) .
Rumbi: Exactly. For anyone who knows me? I'm not the same person as early Facebook. They're not the same person. I'm the same person but not. Disclaimer.
Vongai: Yeah, I like the same things. But I'm not I don't have the same mindset. So on speaking of memories, do you have any favorite memories together? Or any favorite memories growing up in Zimbabwe? I want to start with you Rumbi.
Rumbi: Oooh with Amanda definitely. I think her supporting me, I recorded a song in high school. We were 16 and her being my cheerleader and like we were we audition for like interact. The interact club to perform the song.
Vongai: Could you explain what Interact was?
Rumbi: Interact was like a society or like a group organization, you joined to help the community through outreach programs, fundraising, so you could help the less fortunate. And we used to do different events and programs to help them. We’d go to these charities to help them out. And one of the things w e had was I can Interact show which was like a variety show. And you'd have singing, dancing modeling, like all sorts of random things. That was like the highlight of high school days, like you wanted to be there. So like Amanda, like the true homie rider that she is, was there with me during the choreo and all that. So that's one of my favorite memories. And then another random favorite memory is probably us just going for walks. We were in boarding school. So we used to go for walks around the cross country course and talking which I guess we haven't stopped. Like always just talk like, having some good conversations. That's my favorite memory.
Amanda: Oh my gosh, there's so many like when I think back, but I think for me it's when we would travel together. We traveled together to Victoria Falls.
Rumbi: Oh yeah.
Amanda: And then we went whitewater rafting. Which was fine and it was all exciting and thrilling. But after that raft we had to climb this mountain. [laughter] Girl?! Girl! Ah let’s just say it wasn’t one of our most athletic moments.
Vongai: I’m not happy about this. Amanda: It was a steep mountain.
Rumbi: It was so steep lines and even
Vongai: In Zimbabwe even!
Amanda: Yeah it was.
Rumbi: The guys were running up and down carryling like our gear. Like the rafts.
Amanda: Yeah our paddles.
Rumbi: They passed us up and came back down. And were just sitting.
Rumbi: Yeah it was a struggle fo’sho.
Amanda: Yeah. We forgot how beautiful the whitewater rafting was because we're like this mountain, screw this mountain. Vongai: Oh, wow. What were your days like at Peterhouse?
Amanda: It was a small group of girls. A very small group of Black girls.
Rumbi: For sure.
Vongai: Wait! Really?
Amanda: Back in our day? Definitely. I don't know what the numbers would be. Now, I would assume probably more skewed the other way?
Rumbi: Was it half and half, do you think? Or…
Amanda: I think that by the time we finished it was half and half. Cos for us Vongai We had it at the peak of land reform. So we actually only in our second year of high school when we had classmates that had their land taken away from them. We eve had this case, in our year, where land was taken up from one, like a white girl had their land taken away for another Black girl in a year. So obviously, tensions were very high. We had like, stay aways. So we couldn't even come into school. And some parents would drop you off because they like you have to go to school. Some kids wouldn't even come in because parents didn't know what was happening. We had some of our classmates featured on the news because they're getting interviewed because their farms were being taken. So it was a very tumultuous time to be at school, especially a school that has race at the forefront of its image so to speak. Because it was like, yeah, you were pretending like everything's normal. But the world is like literally tumbling around you.
Rumbi: Burning around you yeah. It strange. It was a strange time.
Amanda: And so when we started with a very small group, that's why all the black girls are like friends, essentially. Maybe not as close but still friends. But the end of it, we probably were more black girls, but definitely we had a big shift so quickly. Throughout that six years. Yeah.
Vongai: Alright I'd like to ask where y'all are from in Zimbabwe. And what beings Zimbabwe means to you, Amanda, you go first.
Amanda: So I'm from Chikomba district. So it's just a bit outside of Wedza, that’s where my parents actually both are from which is quite unique, because a lot of times parents are from different parts. Ndinoyere mutupo dziva (my totem is) which means fish. So I do love the water, which is quite funny. So yeah, that is my Totem. And yeah, I used to go kumusha all the time, so I used to go to the rural areas all the time, at least once a year. It was standard, my dad would never make us not go. But since I've come to Australia, it's been every time you go to Zim to visit you only got such a short time and then it seems like another trip to go elsewhere. So I have been pretty bad in the last few years. But when my husband and I got married, we made sure to go because I had to show him where I'm from from you know, just the city life so yeah.
Vongai: The area you're from Is that like a town or is it Yeah, so
Amanda: the whole district is called Chikomba. Yeah, and then the actual little small growth point like township is called kwaSadza. Yeah, but it's like the nearest the nearest big town is Wedza.
Vongai: And being what does being Zimbabwean mean to you paying somebody
Amanda: Hmm. I think being Zimbabwean means to me diversifying, like I think we've had to adapt so quickly to so many different scenarios and situations in our lives, that we are a diverse group of people. Everyone's doing something in something like you always find Zimbabwe in every aspect of anything you can think of. And I think, you know, as much as we are not all home anymore, as actually leaving home has made us very diversified. And I love that about being Zimbabwe, you can fit in anywhere.
Vongai: I love that so much Rumbi where are you from and what does Zimbabwe mean to you?
Rumbi: so I am from lower Gweru. That's kumusha for me. It's just on the outskirts of Gweru town. And that's where my father's family comes from. So I'm Ndebele, so as Amanda said, my parents come from different parts. My mom from kwaRusape, she's Shona so already was bought into like that tension. You know, Shona-Ndebele tension in itself. But so that's kumusha and ndinoyera Mbizi or Dube. So they call me Madube, which is a zebra. And so that's cool. Michelle grew up in Harare and different places. That's a story for another day. Yeah. And what it means to be Zimbabwe, and for me, is to be resilient. Sometimes to our own detriment, I believe. I think we are also very adaptable, and make things work. I love being Zimbabwean. And I also feel the burden of being Zimbabwean. And I think it's a two-fold thing. There's the deep the beauty and the struggle that comes with that. And ultimately, one thing I definitely respect about us is, you know, our minds, education, how we, you know, when you see the world, you really see that we were given a gift in how education was is paramount for us like, and how we are then able to adapt and be resilient because we have that sort of foundation that enables us to go into different places and spaces, and do the multiple things that we end up doing.
Vongai: Before we dive deep into the layers of your podcast, it's layered. I find that fascinating as someone who as someone who identifies as a global citizen, and someone who's a third culture kid, having been raised in three different cities, I find it so fascinating to hear stories about people who move to the diaspora, and the culture shock they endured because I endured cultural shock moving back to Zimbabwe, so it's like, flipped. But yeah, both moved outside of Zimbabwe as adults. So how is that for you? I know you guys talk about a little bit about this in your podcast. But I'd like to, if you could sum it up in some way, whether it's to do with culture shock and all the immigration hurdles of like qualifying for visas and starting a new life. And yeah,
Rumbi: I'll start I guess. I think it's kind of weird having to prove yourself again, like and work past a lot of the misconceptions around our blackness, our African-ess, our being Zimbabwean-ess when there's so many flawed perspectives, and it's exhausting, I think a lot of the time educating, I work in education and then you find you're not only educating your children, you're also educating people you interact with. So people know very little about us as Zimbabwe, so it's been a lot of time saying, okay, yes, you might have this idea of like, we're not all sitting in dryland shirtless, with flies all over us and dust on our eyes.
Amanda: Girl girl girl!
Vongai: Not shirtless with the flies!
Rumbi: Well, you know what I mean,
Vongai: Sounds like Oxfam.
Rumbi: Yes. So I'm like, that's not the case. So and then also having to tame your voice in a way so that you're more palatable, but also standing your ground. It’s this weird thing. It's very strange and having to be really perceptive. So I think the culture shock comes in that is like, I have to explain myself all the time. Like, yes, I'm from this country, but I know what electricity is, or I know what it means to travel or I have traveled. Probably more than you have, like, you know what I mean? I think the biggest thing that people don't understand is like, my parents live in a house with a yard. And they see Oh, so you guys are like, rich. And it's like, No, it's just the way it is. Like, if you live in suburbia. That's, do you get what I mean. Those little things.
Vongai: Where you have a pool.
Rumbi: Yeaah. So it's strange. But yeah, I think that's definitely explaining yourself having to represent all black people or Africans. I could go on.
Vongai: When you did ask to [represent all of them]
Amanda: When you didn’t ask to.
Rumbi: Yeah. Yeah, I could go on.
Amanda: I have the same experience as Rumbi. I think also, even maybe worse, because I moved. When you know, you're 18 you think you know yourself? But really, yes, if you think about it, you're a baby. And then you just got thrust into the adult life, you know, your first job. Your first, your first a lot of your firsts, you know, happening in this foreign land. And I think for me, the biggest thing was not being majority, like always being the minority, always being the only one in the room. You know, Oh, my gosh, your hair grew six inches over the weekend and having to explain that and, you know, like constantly being asked questions that you never asked yourself before. I think that's been my biggest culture shock. Like, I mean, living in Australia, we have the exact same things we had in Zimbabwe, as much as that's a shock to Australians to hear. The biggest shock for me was how many times I have to educate and tell people and, and even though I'm the only one in the room, and I just want to be me, it's like, you take this other role that you never got auditioned for you. Just get given this role of Okay, from now on. Every time you enter a room, you have to show them how Black girls are you have to show them how this and that and it gets exhausting. I think that's a big thing. People don't talk about how exhausting it can sometimes be to be the only one to be a minority.
Vongai: Yeah, I often feel like I'm caught in between two worlds. I mean, as y'all say, It's layered.
Vongai: I feel caught between being Zimbabwean and the Zimbabwean background that I've had, and then also being, I guess, so let's say if I was living in the UK, then like being caught between being Zimbabwean and then what it means to be British, even though I'm not British, because I was born in Zimbabwe, and my passport is Zimbabwean, or like being in China and then being in an international school, where it just feels like we're the United Nations and we can just be, but then being outside in the real world, or like I guess, now living in America, where you're very much as soon as I walk into a room, I'm Black. Even if I forget I'm Black. I’m Black, I’m African and I'm a woman I'm all those three things. So I feel like it's it's, it's. Ah it’s the explaining yourself bit. It's like you've got these cultural expectations, and then you've got the world that you're living in. And then in the middle, you have yourself trying to, I guess, figure out who you are as a person in the mix. Outside of all these labels and outside of all the cultural things and I often think about how I'll be as a parent. Cos I think about like the job that my parents had to do. And the fact that Shona is technically my third language. My parents would speak to me in Shona, and I would reply back in English. And I didn't realize I was doing that for so many years. And how, as parents, they probably have the outside world or Zimbabweans, looking at them about the way they were raising me, even though you know, I was raised with privilege and living outside the country has given me all these amazing opportunities. But then at the end of the day, when I was living here, I'm being bullied or I'm being made to feel like I'm not Zimbabwean enough. I say this in air quotes for the listeners that can't see me doing the air quotes.
Amanda: What is Zimbabwean enough.
Vongai: It’s confusing.
Rumbi: What is it?
Amanda: What does it mean now?
Vongai: Yeah, it don’t think it means anything. But there's still this thing that I feel people put on each other. And it's not just people living outside in the diaspora, it’s also people living in Zimbabwe.
Amanda: Yeah like we touch on this on our classism episode, you know, cuz we were like, well
Vongai: Which I commend you for because you were having that conversation on classism, it’s such an issue
Amanda: Yeah. And we as we can understand and we do acknowledge our privilege, of course, our parents worked hard to then get the jobs they could get to then allow us to go to schools we could go to, but ultimately, the division it brings is just it's astounding. Like it's like he can't date this guy cuz he went to that school. You can't speak like this because then that means this and it's just so it strips you right leaves you so roll because you Every move you make you have to think two or three times before you make it. And then when you finally leave Zimbabwe and go elsewhere with that in your mind already, it doesn't give you a good foundation for wherever you're going because you're like what is being Zimbabwean? Because Yeah, even in Zimbabwe, I'm not Zimbabwean enough. So it's such a layered confronting to be honest conversation that a lot of people don't want to have, because it is what it is right? Let's not go there. So zvinemalayers!
Vongai: Yeah and then we haven't even talked about like, colonialism, because it dawned on me last year when we were all having conversations about race, that possibly the reason why I'm judged for speaking English is because it's colonial tongue. And I’m like Whoa, and then I think about like, you know, my very existence, because my accent used to be super British when I moved here. Like they say, your accent or your voice is impacted by the places, you've lived at least five years. So now my voice is just very mixed and weird. And I can make it do things on command. But like, when I'm not thinking about it, it just goes all over the place. And I just think about like, Whoa, it must be so. Like I said, My existence is mind blowing. Because here I was moved here when I was eight, and my voice was super-duper British. And I, I'm I'm feeling all these microaggressions, and judgment from people, whether it's people I went to school with, or or people who, within my family, or even white Zimbabweans, and I'm like, why is this. But as a child, I just didn't know what was up. I wasn't aware of the larger issue of race and colonialism and all of that stuff. You know, it was it was new to me, but I'm just thinking, Oh, I'm not enough. I'm, I don't deserve to be. This gets me emotional to the point that it's like, I don't deserve to be alive. I don't deserve to exist when it's not. It's not it. And I feel like as I've gotten older, I'm able to then slip into other people's shoes and see things from different perspectives and be like, oh, because your subconscious mind is the fully formed at the age of seven, and they say, you know, we changes people every seven years. So the ego is, you know, operating from the age of seven. So, you know, like they say hurt people hurt people. A lot of the times we're operating from that hurt seven year old. Yeah, without realizing it.
Rumbi: And the judgments that people put on you anyway, for not being Zimbabwean enough or looking or I don't know. As a nation, we're really diluted in so many. So when you speak of colonialism, the true essence of what it means to be Zimbabwean is already been kind of like, mixed up. It's not. Do you get what I mean. So I just feel like we hold ourselves to these standards that it's really because someone's definition of what being truly Zimbabwean is gonna differ to someone else's, and there's just so many things. And the more a lot, the more the more of us get out of the country and elsewhere. How can we hold each other to those standards when already it's just really layered, essentially. And complicated and I think part of our thing is sometimes we because we are hurt I think as a nation, or there's a lot in our history. You then project we're not really an empathetic society sometimes and so it can it can be missed, but I think there's also beauty in embracing all these nuanced versions of ourselves. Because then there's beauty and diversity, you know what I mean, as Amanda alluded as to why she, what she thinks of when she thinks Zimbabwe. There really is beauty. And I think we will be so powerful as a nation, when we embrace and celebrate each other for those differences in the nuances we bring, I think we will go a million miles forward, because,
Amanda: yeah, I just feel the judgment doesn't stop. And it's like, even when you leave Zimbabwe, and you come back from the diaspora. They’re be like oh, you're now used to that life, you know, soft life, you know, and it's like, actually, living in diaspora is not so easy, you know, starting afresh, you have nothing, you have to rebuild, you know, whether you move with family or by yourself, you're leaving everything you felt secure, and to start afresh, to start over. Make new friends even, you know, and it's like, such a big jump that people don't take, we look at it monetary wise, like, Oh, you now have electricity. Ah now you have this and that.
Vongai: You’re now popping bottles.
Amanda: Actually popping bottles but it’s like actually no. And if I am the amount of hours I had to work, you know.
Vongai: And then you have to, like, keep up your visa status and all that jazz.
Amanda: You don’t want to get into trouble. Like if ever I see a policeman you’re like can I not be the one he wants to talk to? You just think I cannot go back home with you know, in shame, it just cannot happen.