Zimbabwe and the Memory Hub
By Marigrace Becker
I lived in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe for one year after college, staying with a host family and volunteering at a small college. It was a gift to be able to connect with this family and their community, which overflowed with hospitallty, graciousness, care, life, strength and resilience. Many things stood out to me from this experience - but in particular, I was impressed by the way the community respected, cared for, and integrated elders as valuable members of society. I loved the multigenerational connections and how this happened naturally as part of the culture, not needing to force it or create a program to make it happen. After coming back from Zimbabwe, that was one idea that stayed with me—and blossomed through a variety of experiences including working at Elderwise and Full Life Care. In fact, I can trace the Memory Hub back to that one seed. So today, I want to thank my host family, the Ndlovus, and others in Zimbabwe who gave me a vision for what it can look like to honor, respect, and welcome elders fully into a community. And to my team at the Memory Hub: Thank you for being a part of building community for older adults and people with memory loss here in Seattle! I love working together with you all on this meaningful journey.
The culture of welcome and hospitality especially stood out to me in the sharing of meals. In the rural areas, I learned that one common greeting to call out to people passing by your home was “Siyadla,” meaning “we are eating.” Rather than simply a statement of fact (or a way of saying “we’re busy!"), it was meant as a way of saying, “we are eating – so come on in, you are also invited to come enjoy a meal!” I want to share a food memory about Sadza, the official meal of Zimbabwe:
Sadza (Saw-dzaw) is the staple food of Zimbabwe, and is typically eaten every day for lunch and dinner, with a variation (porridge style) for breakfast. Sadza is made from cornmeal, boiled until thickened. It is served with sides of tomato/onion sauce, meat, cabbage, or dark leafy greens such as kale. Eat it by taking some of the Sazda (cornmeal) in your hand--about the size of a ping pong ball. Roll around in your hand to make a ball. Then dip it into any of the sides and eat it. Yum!