Madiro aGeorgina myth busted

Some have tried to explain its origins, and it seems Georgina actually once walked this country and was a person of exploits, well at least according to this writer’s research.

THERE are some statements, phrases and clichés which send the mind wondering where and how they originated.

One of these catch phrases, which has become a common expression in Zimbabwe is Madiro aGeorgina or Jojina, an expression which often shoots out of many people’s mouths each time they are voicing their disapproval of someone’s wayward behaviour.

Some have tried to explain its origins, and it seems Georgina actually once walked this country and was a person of exploits, well at least according to this writer’s research.

Could we have finally unmasked the myth around this infamous woman of exploits?

On social media platforms, netizens have musingly posted that Georgina was a woman who would do what pleased her at any given time.

Some have described her as someone who would even love to fart in the presence of her father-in-law or would urinate or relieve herself in public.

And NewsDay Weekender, in its own endeavour to get to the bottom of this notorious lady, recently got wind of a family claiming that the popular phrase was coined after their daughter’s exploits.

The Gombera family in Ashdown Park, Harare, said they are proud that their own Georgina Gombera, who happened to have died a few years ago, is a heroine in her own way after influencing such a much-hyped catch phrase which has become part of the country’s vocabulary.

According to Batsira Gombera, a grandson to Georgina, the popular phrase was coined after the latter’s exploits in disregarding orders from her husband, who was a powerful chief.

Gombera was born in 1936 and died in 2022.

She was buried at her rural village in Marondera West constituency.

“Georgina was married to Chief Mangwende in 1956 at the Catholic Cathedral at the corner of what is now Simon Muzenda Street and Herbert Chitepo Avenue. The chief in question was also no ordinary chief, he was the equivalent of the current chiefs’ president and had a say in Parliament, among many other august institutions. It’s worth mentioning that black people were generally not allowed to set foot there, but this couple managed to wed there,” narrated Batsirai.

This paper is reliably informed that a local funeral parlour offered a befitting send-off package to the late Georgina, in honour of being the woman behind the popular statement.

“The honeymoon phase saw them going all the way to Buckingham Palace as part of their adventures. All was well, a perfectly politically arranged marriage, a chief married to an educated teacher, the optics were perfect. This is during an era where women’s rights and most rights for that matter were not yet an advanced cause. What could go wrong? Enter the defiant Georgina. She would have none of it,” added Batsirai.

The late Gombera was an unqualified teacher who reportedly fought for women rights during an era where women were expected only to be submissive to their husbands, let alone to a traditional leader.

“Clearly unhappy with the new developments, she set out to extricate herself from circumstances uncomfortable to her. But how does one get to defy such a powerful man without consequence? I suspect she never asked herself that question and went on to do as she pleased. Madiro aGeorgina started. She tried to leave her marital home and the chief got wind of her plan and made sure she had an entourage with her at all times,” Batsirai said.

He added: “As if that would work. We can only speculate whether it was through skills of persuasion, violence or both that led to her initial escape. ‘Take me to Harare, away from the chief’ were the last words they remember her uttering. The poor driver to who the words were directed obliged.

“Once in Harare and obviously aware of the power and influence the chief had, she realised she would be safer out of Zimbabwe. Then again how does one leave the country without documentation or the chief’s consent? I suspect again she never asked herself that question and just proceeded with her plan. What followed next was the stuff of legends and it might sound incredible, particularly if you were in charge of border control during those days. Georgina managed to escape to Malawi, where a few of her relatives resided. She did it on horseback, without the documentation, without the chief’s consent.”

After her stint in Malawi, Georgina eventually came back to Zimbabwe to institute divorce proceedings against the chief.

According to the family, Georgina broke records by becoming the first woman to get a driver’s licence in Marondera, first black woman housekeeper at Harare’s Monomotapa Hotel and also the first black head matron at Young Men’s Christian Association, generally a white-dominated institution at the time.

She reportedly resigned from her work at Monomotapa Hotel in protest over poor security and gender discrimination issues.

Chief Mangwende, real name Morgan Gatsi, however, said none of his clansmen was linked to the Gomberas.

“I have the history of my clan since the 1950s, there is nothing that links the clan to the Gombera family as you are saying. Maybe it is another Chief Mangwende from another jurisdiction. As of the phrase Madiro aGeorgina, I know it, but I do not have knowledge as to who is the real person behind it,” he said.

But renowned author and researcher Tinashe Muchuri has a different version of who Georgina was.

Muchuri said the Georgina in question was a sex worker in Mbare, whose rural home was somewhere in Bikita.

“Back then in the 1930s, the whites constructed single quarters or hostels that were occupied by bachelors. Georgina, who hailed from Masvingo (province), was a sex worker who defied odds and frequently visited these quarters. The whites were forced to construct marriage quarters because of Georgina. She was one of the first publicly known sex workers in Harare,” Muchuri said.

Award-winning author Aaron Chiundura Moyo echoed similar sentiments, saying Georgina was a woman of loose morals.

“She would get involved with several men publicly. During those days, it was taboo for a woman to be of loose morals. Georgina had none of it, she would date any man any time. So people had to say ‘she does as she pleases’, hence coining the statement Madiro aGeorgina,” Chiundura Moyo said.

Today, different versions of the real face behind the famous cliché have been proffered: Perhaps the myth still remains unsolved.

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