Thembelihle Terry-Lynne Zulu

ImageAs The Zulugirl, the obstacles I face have neither faces nor human embodiment and yet they have put up quite the fight to thwart my efforts but to no avail. The hindrances to all my endeavours were conceived long before I was born and have become the norm. When they said, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” they weren’t kidding. As an artist, the biggest barrier I have faced by far is the old-fashioned school of thought that my parents and many other parents in Zimbabwe, have that, “Art is not an occupation, it’s a hobby.”

I write poetry and prose, dance, act but fine art is my first love. You’d think art is what I’m majoring in at tertiary level but not quite, after I left school I knew exactly what I wanted to do – go to art school. Long story short, my mother just asked me, “What are you gonna do with art in Zimbabwe?” and the next thing I knew I was studying Journalism and Media studies. I am one of the lucky few who have managed to compromise because journalism allows me to use all my talents. I get paid to do what I love.

My lecturer once told us, “The funny thing about journalism classes is that majority of the students are female but the people that actually practice this journalism are male.” I didn’t understand him much then but I do now. Thank you gender stereotype for being an invincible obstacle, you stand undefeated claiming the dreams of many (except me but nice try though).

My father has a policy, “If the sun sets and you aren’t in my house, don’t come back unless you can time travel.” Literally, if I get to the gate and it’s so dark that I can’t see my palm lines it means I am late and homeless. Since art is a ‘hobby’ I go to work until 5pm and after that I need to work on my ‘hobby’ and that makes me break curfew. I truly believe that you need to make time for the things you love doing but daddy believes in children being home on time so the hobby has suffered terribly from negligence. If I’d been a boy however, I could stay out until whenever and it doesn’t even have to be work related. Ask my brother when he walks in at 3am.

And then there were myths. These are the worst kind of stupidity. This is what happens when boredom meets a philanthropist with an IQ of a child. Many women have sold out their dreams for the ring-chase. I will never be fooled into believing that my whole life has been a build-up to being ‘Thembie – The Homemaker.’ Most girls have the Disney princesses ideology that she must stay in her father’s house until such a time her prince (who turns out to be a creep) comes and whisks her off to wedded bliss. As a descended of Tshaka Zulu I am royal by blood and not by association, I am a rare breed, a true warrior princess I’m gonna save my prince from fake barbies that bleach their skin brighter than their future.

When I graduate next year, I wanna travel and see everything on my list, actually use my degree, build the brand that is The Zulugirl and then sell-out to marriage at 30. Pre-conceived ideas have been a worthy opponent that has won many but I am….The Zulugirl