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Lives of Mothers: Author | Albertina | Rosalina | Valentina

Lives of Mothers (Albertina Tiwana)
Machun'wasse Khosa


26 January 1996, Facazisse

A: My mother, when my father dies, she goes and marries at another place. She wasn't taken by that other man—she refuses to be taken by that ntukulu [grandson], 1 because she would be mistreated. 2 Because, he really harasses her! He's very difficult, because he was the secretary of the commander over there. And her father, he says, "Don't you dare accept him! If he takes you, he could mistreat you." Mmm. He says, "Any other man, you can accept him if he courts you. I don't want him to take you, and hear that he is oppressing you, making my children suffer!" She doesn't leave Boho's [i.e., Boho Tiwana, A's father] place, well, she's locked up in the jail. She was locked up for refusing, for refusing to accept that ntukulu. Well, he lays a complaint with the authorities there, he says, "Why am I refused?" This one, he is Malawu, Malawu Chavango. He built over there, in Rikatlana, 3 he's the father of N'waBotini.

Well, the other man, he was also locked up over there, he worked together with my mother, they worked on the commander's field. When they let them out, to work on the field. They worked there, all of them, all of the convicts. Well, he courts her. She is able to love him, she says, "Eee! I'm tired of working!" She accepts him [Vuduya Muhlanga], that other boy, of the Muhlanga family. Well, he takes out some money [for bridewealth]. Over there, where we were born. He gives it to this ntukulu. 4 In the time when she [wants to] go marry him, well, they discuss her case. The commander, he says, "You, ntukulu, you take those children [i.e., Albertina and her elder sister]. You take them, you feed them, you look after them, with the money [given by Vuduya]." He refuses. This ntukulu, he says, "I'm not going to take them, they're full of snot, they'll bother my wives." Well, the commander, he says, to grandmother Fahlaza, "You go and look after them." He writes her a little note, he gives it to vovo. He says, "Come with the little note, you will find the money, for those snotty children. Because he doesn't want them." Well, my mother goes to marry in Mavavaze. She gives birth to another child. He dies. But they look after each other, she gives birth to another child. She's still here [i.e., living], over there in Machambuyane, my sister Nyankwave.


Lives of Mothers: Author | Albertina | Rosalina | Valentina


Note 1: Ntukulu: grandchild or sister's child. Here, Albertina is referring to the son of one of the sisters of her late father; this son was eligible to "inherit" Albertina's widowed mother.  Back.

Note 2: Albertina uses the verb kuxaniseka: to be mistreated, oppressed, troubled, persecuted.  Back.

Note 3: Rikatlana: Today it is a suburb of Magude town; at that time, it was part of the rural chieftaincy of Machambuyane.  Back.

Note 4: To compensate his family for the bridewealth that Boho Tiwana had given for Machun'wasse and thereby end her obligations to the ntukulu's family.  Back.


Binding Memories: Women as Makers and Tellers of History in Magude, Mozambique