Each year in August, hundreds of women enter the contest supported by Ekhaya Gaia, a local NGO supporting sustainable communities, to showcase their adorned homes. Prizes include farming and water implements such as ploughs, wheelbarrows and water storage tanks. For each of her wins, Masuku was awarded a water tank, which she uses to harvest and store rainwater to get through the dry months of the year.
After months of painting, the results fade quickly. Each year, the elaborate decorations are washed away with the coming of the rains in October. It’s a loss but also a welcome end to the dry season. And it offers these house artists a fresh canvas for the next year.
For now, not many tourists are visiting the Matobo Hills for hiking, bird watching or to admire the painted homes due to lockdown travel restrictions. But to Masuku, this remains a special place. “When I’m here I don’t have to worry, I breathe the fresh air and it brings me back to my inner centre, where I should be,” she said.
The traditions celebrated by the My Beautiful Home contest are specific to the region, but their spirit is universal. “I hope that other people around Zimbabwe will be inspired to decorate their homes,” she said, “and to make their homes into something they love.”
If you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter called “The Essential List”. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Worklife and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.