I don’t care how poor a man is; if he has family, he’s rich.  ~ Dan Wilcox and
Thad Mumford

I don’t know what to title this post. I am torn. By the time I am done writing, something will have come to me. This past weekend was all about the last hockey tournament of the year. I was stoked and I was ready and it was awesome. We retained the trophy *yay*. In the post tournament celebration, something happened that slightly tainted my perfect weekend. In this country, hockey is not popular with black people. So I’m sure it surprised noone that I was possibly the only black girl in the tournament. I thought I saw one other black girl but I am not certain. My teammates are the best and they are like family to me.

Because the tournament was open to all, four black guys (who I am ashamed to say are from my country) came to watch the tournament and to support another team. They found out I’m their countryman and took an immediate shine to me. They were very supportive and shouted my name from the sidelines etc. It was nice but it was also disconcerting because I never really hear my name on the sidelines and because it made it harder to concentrate. It didn’t really bother me because I felt it came from a good place.

After the games they had had quite a lot to drink and they became extremely aggresive. They insisted they needed to talk to me and when I walked over to speak to them they had nothing but extremely personal questions or sexual comments etc. Despite being my countrymen, they were still strangers so I was treading carefully. I excused myself politely to join my team celebration. They drank some more.

The problem came when I walked away from my crowd to get water. Then they stopped me and started asking the most bizarre questions. Was I sleeping with one of the white guys here? Was I gay? Do  I know how to speak my own language? Why wasn’t I with a black man? I said they were being extremely rude and I tried to get past but they kept pulling me back a little forcefully. I was slightly alarmed but I wasn’t afraid yet. Then one said you look like you like d*** and I want to give my d*** (he repeated it in English and in my native tongue Shona. Vernacular is much much stronger/more vulgar than English when it comes to these things). A complete stranger said that to me! Then I knew I was in trouble. I immediately tried to walk away quickly but he grabbed me around the waist from behind with such force I started to fall. As I fell I yelled out my coach’s name. All of this happened very very fast.

Bless his soul the man heard me. He is a very big Dutchman. As soon as he stood, some of the other male players stood up with him. The guy immediately let go of me and the four of them quickly disappeared. One was still yelling about what he wanted to give me as he scrurried to his car. They were so brave when it was just me.

After I had had a bit of wine and everyone was laughing again my coach said, “Chuwe, I have seen you get your teeth broken, tear ligaments, take body hits and not once have you ever cried out. As soon as I heard you yell my name like that I knew something was seriously wrong. You did the right thing. You are among family here and noone can touch you as long as I am here.”

This weekend, I realised once more that family has nothing to do with blood, your country of origin or skin colour. Family is when a dozen people drop what they are doing to come to your rescue. They didn’t need to know what was wrong. Knowing I was in trouble was enough.