Love By Another Name...Is Hate

Love By Another Name...Is Hate

AS A JOURNALIST covering issues to do with women, girls and at risk groups, I have sort of developed a thick skin. I hear the most heat rending stories every day.

Much like a court interpreter, I have to retell the story to the rest of the world as if it is mine. As if all the pain happened to me. As if the scars are on my body…my soul. As if the warm blood from the wounds inflicted trickled down my skin.

I may not know exactly how the victim may have felt in their time of persecution and torment, but I assume part of the pain and feel an ounce of it…at least just for a moment.

But when you tend to hear the same stories of heartbreak and pain, of violence and death, you get used to it somehow. With every retelling of a rape story, you are raped all over again. With every beating from a heartless husband, you are slapped all over again. The soul becomes immune.

But there is no ultimate vaccine for pain and there are those few times when one breaks and cannot help but reconnect with my human side. The side with feeling. The ice on my heart thaws. The stone around my arteries cracks. For I too am human. I begin to feel, to taste to touch…to hurt.

I have encountered such rare stories that tear through the soul of even I the person who retells them. And recently I encountered the same with a story that broke my heart.

It broke my immunised soul, a soul immune to pain and hurting. And it will break yours too.

It was a story so painful that it would make even the Devil weep.

I shall retell it again to you. I was told by the friend who was closest to this woman.

I shall, as I always do…as I was trained to do…tell it as my own in the words and emotions of the young woman who related it to me; I decided to Christian the victim in the story Sarah.

"I had a friend, *Sarah, who was married to a young man named Moyo and they had a young child.

The husband was abusive and would always be cruel to her but it was in the subtlest of ways. He never beat Sarah up. Not regularly anyway. He never used to use beating as much of a tool to get at his wife.

Rather he was emotionally abusive. I look back now and say to myself, ‘I aided him in his cruel emotional abuse of my friend’. Sarah always used to tell me what he did to her and I would say 'as long as he does not beat you, stay in the marriage And work things out. At least for the sake of your children.'

That is the problem with us in Africa and the value we attach to the institution of marriage. We want to save it at all cost whatever the hurt we go through because we say it is for the sake of the children.

What her husband Moyo used to do was unique. He would sleep out of the matrimonial home and was openly known to have small houses, girlfriends that he would spend most of his time with. When he came home and Sarah would ask, he would ‘deal with her.

Moyo would then take out used condoms from his trouser pockets one by one and drop them onto a piece of torn newspaper as if he were counting them out. As if they were trophies. All the while Sarah would be looking and weeping knowing he would be punishing her soul deliberately in what would be a premeditated routine. But that was not all.

Moyo would then call the couple’s little daughter and instruct her to take the now wrapped used condoms so that the young unknowing innocent soul would go and dump them in the bin. She would comply and not know why her mother was weeping. That is the way he would punish her and break her soul.

He did this repeatedly as a routine until Sarah became immune to it. He loved to taunt her that way.

However, Sarah eventually fell ill after having a baby daughter. She started wasting. Moyo took her and put her on a bus to Gweru along with the kids and paid for the bus ticket. He then called Sarah’s mother in **Gweru to let her know that her daughter was coming home.

When Sarah got home, her mother was broken. She was a shadow of her former self. She was a frail person who had advanced to the hem of fighting HIV and had progressed to having Aids.

Sarah’s mother called me weeping and said Moyo was a cruel man who had sent her a corpse. ‘He should have told me he is sending a corpse when he phoned because this is not my daughter’ she cried to me. Two days later the delivered the sad news that Sarah had died.

Again I look back and think; ‘would Sarah not be with her baby, who is now a two-year-old girl, had I just advised her to let the marriage crumble and walk away?’

But that is just a thought, not tangible, not useful in these days after Sarah.

Moyo has since moved on. He remarried. I never talk to him. Not anymore. He is the cruelest person I know and I will never forgive him”

When I was told this story, I was upset. It broke my heart. It broke my spirit and soul. It made me want to send a message in a bottle that will reach the shores of all the men and women out there that may be going through emotional abuse. The message in my bottle would be short and simple.


No matter how much we may have heard the stories of spousal abuse, some things can never be gotten used to. No matter how strong we get, some things will make you cry in spite of your strength.

Whether man or woman, boy or girl, do not be afraid or ashamed to cry. After all, Jesus wept. What is important is what you do after crying and dusting yourself up that is important. Will you keep weeping and feel sorry for ‘doomed mankind’ or will you join me, stand up and swear to ‘CHANGE THE WORLD?’

* Sarah is not her real name.

** The third largest city in Zimbabwe after Harare and Bulawayo.


  1. Thank you for sharing this sad story. It's a pity that our sisters have to wait till the worse happen before they quit a man. Our African sisters should know how to say enough is enough. Some men act like they don't have sisters or they don't have daughters. It's really a pity to know that such men exist in our world or they are even next to us. women need to be protected for a bette life because they are the cornerstone of the family's development...

    Francois ZOUNGRANA


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