The Dress


submitted by Nashe Mutenda

i fantasized about this dress

I google imaged it

pinterested it

i imagined myself in that dress

long before coming to Zimbabwe

before I even found the material

I dreamed of myself walking into Dartmouth formal

wearing A F R I C A N attire

flaunting my African-ness bold

and clear

and loud

and occupying this white space

with my own culture

I envisioned flamboyant colors

what white people would hastily define as


I envisioned vivacious shapes

one that would embody the energy

that is Z I M B A B W E

and my tetes jumped with joy

when they heard my wish

for even they could not imagine

that this girl from japan

would so boldly and earnestly yearn for her culture

and today that dress(es) made its way to my arms

the strength in the fabric

as it hugged my body like armor

empowered me.

I am a warrior, a queen.

I felt at home in my own body

this was something that was truly M I N E

something that I could claim as my own

my own culture

a piece of my world contained in the fabric

the vitality of Africa appropriately defined

in the patterns that told stories of lifetimes

I wore the dress again and I cried.

for I saw decolonization happen in front of my eyes.

I am an African

I am a Zimbabwean

I am Shona

I internalized this truth and let it be my guide.

all because of a dress that was made by the hands of my people only.


This piece was submitted to The Collective–a space for students outside of the Black Praxis staff to share their thoughts, opinions, and perspectives. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Black Praxis and its staff. To submit something of your own, e-mail