May It Please Your Majesty
Ma-am, I wish to inform you of an important occurrence I believe deserves your attention.
I write to you this letter, in much fear and trembling, to request matters of my deepest heart. I have decided to make this letter public in my online diary, but I have sent it to the Palace too. I would not be myself if I only sent it privately.
My name is Jean, but recently I have decided to name myself Lady Mary-Tamar. Jean is a name given to me by the woman who was awfully cruel to me when she raised me. I was born and raised in Zimbabwe, Southern Africa. Ma-am this country’s culture did me much harm, if I had not been a girl of little strength, taking my life would have been my only option.
When I was about 15 years old, back in the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, I thought of taking my life and tried to take some rat killer, the woman who raised me told me that if I wanted to die, I should go into a deep forest and hang myself there, and no one would find me. She said I would just rot there. She said I was also going to go straight to hell anyway because God had no mercy on foolish people, especially children who committed suicide.
That became a defining moment in my life.
The only thing that made me happy a child was reading books, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Fiona, and many more. All these books made me feel alive inside. I did not know they were fairy tales, I thought the stories were real, and there was really a place in Once Upon A Time. I thought maybe I belonged there, and one day I would go back home and leave this horrid place I was living in.
Sometimes I felt like was lost.
So when the woman who raised me told me to go and die in the woods, I said to myself, no, no I won’t die. I will go to my dreamland, England, and there I will live happily ever after.
It’s not been an easy journey for me Ma-am, I feel like I have walked for a 1 000 years. I was abused by the culture of Zimbabwe. The culture says a mother is sacred, she can do no evil nor wrong. A child should never speak against their mother. If they do they will be cursed and die or go mad. The community also makes sure that no stories of abusive mothers are ever to be told.
I bottled my most horrific experiences all my life. The pen has always been my only friend. I can not help but speak.
But speaking about my abusive past in the hands of the woman who raised me is very hard. She is protected by the Zimbabwean culture that says a mother is scared and must always be honoured, I am left facing much persecution from the Zimbabwean community, and I fear for my life. For they are very angry with me Ma-am.
They are saying I am now mad. They are saying I have an ancestral spirit medium on me. Some of them know where I live. I meet some of them in town when I walk.
Your Majesty, I would like to bring a petition before you, I would like some of the harmful cultural practices in Zimbabwe to be abolished. I have a dream, to give the girl child a voice, that she can speak out and refuse to be molested and inappropriately touched by the older women in the name of female genital mutilation. I have a dream, Your Majesty, that the girl child of Zimbabwe should be allowed to say, ‘yes mummy abused me’, without facing the wrath of the community and being told that they will die or be cursed.
I believe I am one of those few who have lived to tell the tale, of how the Zimbabwean culture is protected over the justice of the girl child. I believe a lot of girls in my position did not make it. I came from that country where parents are allowed to abuse and mistreat their children and children are told to forgive and obey.
The United Kingdom is home to me. I love my country with all my heart. I serve it the best way I know how to. My husband Kofi Nino, who is Ghana’s first Opera Singer and I hosted the first Black British Entertainment Awards last year. We have a great vision for the Black community of Britain, we want them to feel belonging and contribute confidently to the Entertainment Industry of Great Britain without facing any prejudice.
MySix Black British children continue to thrive and contribute positively to the community. My firstborn son designed a flag for his whole district that was unveiled last year in his hometown. My children are my greatest inspiration, they always tell me to be brave enough to tell my story.
I want to be free to tell my story without looking at my back each time I walk, lest a Zimbabwean attacks me. I want my story not to be in vain, but to bring change, maybe not only to Zimbabwe but to Africa too.
I have lived to tell. Your Majesty, I humbly ask for your grace and protection.
Lady Mary-Tamar Was Jean