I remember seeing this bath accessory called “chishambo” in Shona a Zimbabwean language. Even as a child I remember seriously loathing it when it became soggy after prolonged use. I could never understand why it was kept in the bathroom for everyone to use, after all everyone could have several each if they chose to. There was a neverending supply because it grew everywhere, in the fields or around the house and often as hedgerow around homesteads.
Anyway I loved it if it was still new, firm excellent for exfoliation and yet tender to the skin especially if you used it in warm water. Because of the sponge you would get a rich lather which made bathing much more exciting. You would lather away making the bath water too soapy and not know what to do it but continue to the lather making fun thick clouds of lather with it. What fun that was, when childhood was still childhood and you could make fun out practically anything.
In your bliss you would suddenly hear an angry voice from mom or aunt bellowing about how you were wasting soap. Often it would end with a splash of fresh cold water which didn’t quite agree with body temperature after using warm water beforehand. You would let out a loud wail and quickly seal your trembling lips after being threatened with a hiding for wasting soap. Or sometimes the excessive soap would irritate your privates. Fresh cold water was often a solution but added with a flat soapstone exfoliation to cracked heels, effective but very uncomfortable. Sheepishly you would go and get dressed after being oiled with some petroleum jelly to make you get warm they often said.
Despite the undesired outcome, it would not all end in vain. The cherry on top of this bathing extravaganza, would be a handsome reward of a thick slice of bread, spread with mixed fruit jam. Often you would find a sunny spot outside, perhaps on a rock or stoep, you would let the sun warm you while enjoying the scrumptious bread as the jam melted in your mouth.