Thembi, the Movie

If you have been a part of the Green Hope Farm community for long you may remember former staff Goddess Sithembiso Mulhauri or Thembi as she is called. Thembi joined our staff after leaving her home in Harare, Zimbabwe. Her husband, a famous soccer coach, was put on Mugabe’s hit list, and the family had to flee the country.

Today I learned that a movie is going to be made about Thembi’s husband, Charles, and the Zimbabwe soccer team he founded, AmaZulu FC.

If this was my movie, I would turn the camera to Thembi.

Here some scenes that would be in my BioPic.

Scene at the US Embassy in Harare: When Charles departs Zimbabwe, it is in a big hurry. Thembi is left behind with their four young sons ages 4 to 14. She spends months gathering the paperwork to be able to join her husband in the US. Things like DNA tests are required. She has done this on her own as her beloved mother has recently died.

Thembi enters the Embassy with all the necessary documents. She shows them at the gate and fortunately this moment is filmed by the Embassy, because by the time she crosses the lobby of the Embassy to go into the right office, she has been robbed of all documents. Her plane leaves in a matter of hours. Will she be believed that she had the documents? Will she and her boys make the flight? They do, but it is a miracle.

Scene as Thembi and the boys get off the plane in Boston Thembi is wearing heels and a beautiful dress. The boys are looking sharp. Bundled into a car, city girl Thembi looks briefly at the skyline of Boston before she finds herself on a long drive north to the deeply wooded hills of New Hampshire. Harare and her city life are seriously in the rearview mirror. As she gets out of the car in front of her new home, her heels sink deep into the grass. It may be the last time she ever needs heels in her new life in northern New England. She is shocked by the trees. There are so many of them. This is an alien world and not just because no one is speaking her language.

Scene as Thembi cuts her dreads. Thembi’s beautiful long dreads hold all the memories of the life she has lost. Her family and friends are beyond her reach. She cannot go home. As she gets her boys settled into their new lives and begins to work at Green Hope Farm, she needs all her energy to move forward and not look back. She cuts off her dreads and lets go of all she can no longer hold onto. Her new haircut reveals her beauty even more so than the dreads. In the movie, she should play herself.

Scene at a Green Hope Farm party. Thembi has brought her favorite foods and brought the fun. All the too serious New Englanders find ourselves dancing all night with Thembi. She’s always made us laugh, now she gets us dancing.

Scene in Thembi’s kitchen Her older kids are playing soccer now at Kimball Union Academy, and her husband is coaching legions of elite soccer players. Thembi’s kitchen has become a hub for college and prep school soccer recruits from Africa who need a taste of home. The kitchen is packed and will remain so for many years.

Scene when Thembi’s house burns down Early one wintry morning, Thembi’s house burns to the ground. Everyone gets out safely but all their possessions are gone. Thembi collects her family and the soccer players staying with her, and they camp out at the Kimball Union guesthouse. While the town community kick in to help, it’s really Thembi who does the lion’s share of rebuilding their lives. In short order she finds them a new house and elegantly furnishes it on a shoestring budget.

Scene yesterday I text Thembi to tell her I think she should be the star of the movie. Lots of laughter emojis, then Thembi tells me she is starting another business. Since she arrived in America a dozen years ago, she has gotten her business and hospitality degree. Two of her children have graduated from college and are off in the world teaching and coaching soccer. Two more are going to college next year and Simba, her fifth child born in New Hampshire, is happily launched into kindergarten. Thembi runs this household of boys and men and also runs two Airbnbs, one in her home and one in the house across the street that she bought. She also owns and runs a daycare center. She tells me yesterday that she is going to buy a children’s gym.

With or without the movie, Thembi will remain one of my personal heroines. And yes, when the movie about her husband comes out, I will greatly enjoy it, but I will also be thinking of the movie that should have been.