My aunt is a bloodsucker

Mai Chisamba —
Happy New Year Mai Chisamba. I am a 32-year-old woman and I am married to the love of my life who is 34. We have a 5-year-old son. My mother passed on two years ago and her sister was appointed as sarapavana wangu. In as much as I appreciate this cultural gesture ndachibata Mai Chisamba and I am getting fed up. She has her own children but now she wants to take advantage of me.

The truth is I am tired of her demands and weird requests. Towards the end of last year she was not speaking to me because I had failed to buy her a fridge after hers had broken down. I do not have much mufunge. These days most people do their groceries in bulk when they get paid because of the economic challenges.

When I do this I just get the very basics but when she passes through my house she takes whatever she wants as if she is in a free supermarket. My mother was never like that although she had all the freedom in the world. She would instead make an effort to bring goodies for my son and even spoil me. It is very rare for mainini to phone and ask how we are doing. I ignore some of her calls because I already know if I pick up it will be just another request.

She is now sending texts and trying to communicate via other means like WhatsApp. If she fails to reach me, she contacts my husband. These two years have been hard for me. How can I stop this? One day I suggested she ask for money from one of her daughters because I did not have it, that day all hell broke loose. Is this how it should be? She even threatened to disown me saying mai vako vane vakoma nevani’ina vatatu sarudza waunoda. I wish I had been given the choice of choosing who my sara pavana would be. Can I ask my sekurus to appoint another one or should I choose another? Please help I now keep my groceries under lock and key kuita sendinogara nembavha.

Response
Happy New Year to you too. Thanks for writing in. I am sorry about the passing on of your beloved mother. I personally know how it feels but it is a way of life you just have to be strong and move on. My heart bleeds when people take advantage of people whom they should be looking after. In our culture we have this sara pavana gesture, which I think is very noble.

It is in place because as Africans we believe in the extended family so even when we lose one member the void must be filled. I once responded to a family with sara pavana drama. I believe hazvidi hudyire nehukopokopo, rinotori basa rekubatsira instead of what is going on. It is unfortunate that the sara pavana is appointed by the family and it is usually someone whom they deem fit to carry out the task.

This is not a permanent arrangement though if need be such a person can be changed if they prove they are not able to carry out the task. Whether one is your daughter or son, it is wrong to make unnecessary demands. It is also very untoward to walk into someone’s house and start collecting things.

Hapana chisina basa mumba memunhu so it is good to wait to be given. There is no need for her to threaten you by saying she would disown you, blood ties cannot be done away with that easily. I advise you to present your case to one of her siblings. If you have messages to prove this the better, your husband can be your witness.

Amainini should respect your husband, it is un-African to WhatsApp mukuwasha making silly demands. We have a powerful adage which says “mugoti unopuhwa anyerere” – mainini should take a hint from that. The family should decide what action to take. You should continue to love, respect and assist her, otherwise, she will bring the family into disrepute. I would be happy to hear from you again. I wish you all the best.

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