Tuesday, 28 April 2009


In 1998 I visited, quite by accident, a home for retired Catholic nuns, stuck far out in the bush in eastern Zimbabwe. I met there a number of incredibly brave and resourceful women who had been retired from their jobs as nuns and nurses and drivers in the missions.
They told harrowing tales from the war for independence, having to treat wounded freedom fighters (which was against the law) and being threatened with death if they didn't. On the other side, the security forces demanded to know when they came into contact with the insurgents, so they were piggy in the middle of a nasty conflict. They told me about their establishment back in the 1930's when it was decided that it was time for African sisters to take their vows and take over the duties of the missions from their European sisters. The last surviving nun from the original six is Sister Vincentia Munengwa, (the fourth, below). She had had to retire aged 80 after breaking her leg in a game of football. The other three nuns are: Sister Ludovic Davanhana, Sister Joseph Chipengo, and Sister Anonciata Chikono.

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