Cornbread ne Muriwo’s first book is a watercolor picture book called Kuenda Kumusha. The title translates to “Going Home,” but ‘kumusha’ does not necessarily mean the home where you sleep each night. Kumusha is one’s village home—the place you mean when you say, “We are going home for the holidays,” or the place you go to show your children where their family roots are.
When people ask my kids where they are from, my daughter says she is from Seattle, but I often remind her that isn’t where she is from. In order to set the record straight, I usually tell the unsuspecting stranger, “Well, I am from Mississippi; their dad is from Zimbabwe; the oldest was born in Nashville (but before that, we lived in New Orleans—this has to be included to explain our family’s love of king cake and gumbo and brass bands); the youngest was born in Seattle. We are currently in Kenya, and we don’t know where we will live next!” For our family, kumusha is both a small town in Mississippi and a rural farm in Masvingo past the end of the paved road.
When we traveled kumusha for Christmas this year, vaTete, our family matriarch, asked us if we had rubbed some dust from the farm on our children. This is a tradition to ensure that the children have a connection to the place that is their home and that they will always return. Being the naturally rowdy and playful pair that they are, there was no need for us to instruct them to play in the dust. They already had it in their hair, under their nails, and behind their ears; I think some even made it in the baby’s mouth. They will definitely find their way back home.
Though it isn’t a specific word in English, the concept of kumusha is already there. When you drive across the state line into Mississippi, the welcome sign says, “Welcome to Mississippi, It’s Like Coming Home,” and it certainly feels like that for me, every time. That is why the first book we will be publishing is based on the word kumusha. Not only is it a helpful word to explain their heritage to our children, but it is also a word that is missing in English.