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Fighting Story: Author | Albertina | Rosalina | Valentina

Lives of Girls (Rosalina Malungana)
Fighting Story


25 June 1995, Facazisse

R: But [laughs], there's another thing. . . . Eee! In our race, there was another thing, well, now, that came from over there, far away, [the land of] Ngungunyana, before we were born here. It already existed, that thing. It was [pause], we [pause], eeh, in the white race, there's no such thing. It doesn't exist. It's only in the black race, like here, Magude, Chibuto, Xai Xai, Guijá, Mazimhlopes, Bilene-Macia. . . . It's really, really, really [done by] the Shangaan. The Chopi, they don't have it. Mmm. Mitsingi. They don't have it. But in our race, the Shangaan race, even there, in Manjacaze. . . . I don't know if it still exists now, but there are some, yes, they say that there are some who are doing that. There was a story, that went this way. A woman—she has two membranes, you know? A girl is born, doesn't she have two little things that are there, by the clitoris? . . . Well, those mitsingi, in our race, you always had to be pulling those things, to make them grow. And then when they grew, well, there was a story, it said this. The woman who didn't have that, had no value for the man. She's not a woman. [laughs] Because the man likes that thing. Girls did that, to satisfy the man, because men liked it. . . . [laughs] Only the one who had that, hee! He really liked her! You begin when you're small, around ten years old. But especially around twelve, you start pulling those things. Twelve years, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen. As soon as you see that it's already, already a little long, well, you leave it. Eee! You've eaten, you're sitting there, and then, you go—that thing, you pulled it in the bush, in a hidden place, hiding by yourself! Mmm. [Each girl] had to find a hiding-place to do that! But afterwards in the river, those who were jokers, they say: "Yaaah, I'll show you, because mine are already big!" [laughs] Heh!! Ah, long ago, it had a story, you know! It was our mothers, who told us this story. "Eh, if you leave yourself alone, if you don't do that, ah! Your husband will think little of you, because you don't have that. Who wants a little hole covered up like that?!" [laughs] . . .

28 January 1996, Facazisse


R: Those things, eh, you have to be stretching them all the time. Mmm. There's even a medicine for that. To drink, and to burn, to put on them. It's made with those bats, mmm! [laughs] Those wings, that they spread. You kill them. To take off the feathers. . . . You spread out those wings in the sun. They dry. Then, you put them in the fire. You take the burning coals from the fire, then when [the wings] are dry, you put them there, to roast. They become like this, black. Then, you grind them, to make them into powder. Eh. But you have to find a place, very hidden! In the woods! Alone. And, there's a pot, a very small one, this size [R shows with her hands]. And there's a tree, called ndzenga. Mmm. You dig in the ground there. You dig, you dig, you dig, you dig. You pull the root there. You cut it. You put it [somewhere], it dries out. You grind it. . . . You put it in a little pot, where you pour water, to drink. Put it there in the bush, hidden! Cover that thing, the pot, with a nkambana [small clay dish]. . . . And then, it's to drink. It helps those things. When you're like this [R gets on her knees], you put that stuff on, your hands do this, and you work like this, to pull them. You pull, you pull, a little at a time, this way. Every day. When you finish eating at midday, you have to go out to the bush, to do that. In the morning, when you get up, you have to get up, fetch water, wash, and then, you go there, to hide. There you have the powder, from the bats. There you have powder, made from leeches. . . .

When you see a leech, you get a little stick, you do this, and he grabs the little stick, thinking it's a person. And you go over there, in the sun, it dies with the sun. Then, you take it home, to burn it there. That thing is a good medicine!... One day, you use the bat. The next day, you have to do it with the leech. Eeh. Those things really stretch your mitsingi! Eeh. Even, until they're this long! [R indicates length, approx. 5-6"]. . . . Well, you go to do it alone, to the woods. But when you have a friend, you know that she's my friend, and she too does this, sometimes we invite one another. "Eh, let's go out to the woods! Let's go out to the woods!" Maybe two or three of you. "Ah, let's go out to the woods, to play!" We go there, and one sits here, the other sits there. First, you have to do this, to cover, with your nguvu [cloth], like this. That's so later, we can show who has the biggest! Eeh. You pull, you pull, you pull, you pull, you pull, you pull, you pull. A lot of time, you're doing that! With powder, rubbing it on. Then, the time comes. "Eh! Let's show each other! I want to see if yours are bigger! Who wants to go first?" "Me, I want to show them!" [R lowers her voice:] You take off your nguvu. "Here they are." And then the other one looks. "Yee! Sheee! Hee! Hey! Yours are big!!" [laughs] "Mine, they're very small! That Malungana, she really pulls!" "Ah you, [they won't grow long] if you don't pull them every day! Mine are big because every day I go out [to pull them]!" . . . At twelve years old! Eh-heh! Twelve, until fifteen, I was like that. . . .

One time, I was at home [in Caniçado]. We left from Guijá, on foot. I was there, and there was my cousin Christina, there was Prescida, the daughter of my aunt who died. . . . We left from Guijá, to go to Bilene-Macia, on foot. And then, in the road, we meet up with three girls. They say, "Eh-heh! Heh! They're coming, look, they're coming! And today, we want to see, who has big mitsingi! You, stay here, and let's go in the woods, to see who's biggest. But we want, we want this one!" That is, they called Mahuke! to us, and they picked me! Not my cousin Christina, the eldest one. The one who wanted to do mahuke with me was of my age. And then, cousin Christina says, "Ah! We don't want to do that, because we're not heathens! We're Christians, we pray." "Eh, we don't care about that! Maybe you pray, or whatever. We, we want to mahuke you, that's all! With this one!" Hah! My cousin didn't want to let me. I say, "Eh, tate. I want to do it. Let them go, I'll go with them. If she beats me, she has long ones, that's fine. But I'm not afraid, because I'm also a girl like her, and she's my age. Let me, I want to go with her." "Heh, let's go, let's go!" Hoh! We took our bundles of clothing, that were on our heads, and we put them there, in the road. We went inside, there in the woods. And she, she sits on the ground. Her older ones, her older sisters, they are there, standing up. And mine too, they are standing up, at my side. I raise my nguvu, and stretch out my legs, then the nguvu. I'm here doing "xi-xi-xi-xi-xi-xi-xi-xi-xi" [pulling]. And she too there, "xi-xi-xi-xi." "Heh, all right, all right! They want to go. You, take it off!" And my cousin says, "She takes it off first, it was she who wanted mahuke! It's not [my girl] who'll take it off first!" And then she takes off her nguvu, with that pride! Eh! I say, "Hah! Mmm!" And in that time, if [a girl] provoked you, while she doesn't have big ones, she gets a beating! She was beaten, truly. You give her two smacks. And you have to take a headscarf from her. Because she bothered you, when she has nothing down there.

And then, I'm also there, peeking at her. [R whispers] "Sacana! 1 To bother me! To say mahuke to me, not let me go where I'm going, to take my time because of that?!" [laughs] And my cousin, since she already knew, she says, "Ah! Heh! You don't know Buxeni! She will beat you! Eh, eh, open up, open up!" Oh! And I take off the nguvu, I do this [R spreads her legs]. Well. . . . "Do you see them? Do you see them? What are you going to do? Eeh? You will grumble, when I take that scarf off your head! Because you, it's you who provoked me. Do you see them?" Well, she says, "Mmm." There was grass, spread out there. And then I said, "Ah you, let's measure them. Here it is [a piece of grass]. Measure yourself." "Ah no, I won't measure, because I know that mine aren't big like yours." "So why did you tell me that, instead of going on ahead, I have to stay here, waste my time?" And she says, "Ah, I didn't know you had such big ones." "Well. But I have to beat you." "Ah, forgive me, forgive me!" And then, my cousin Christina says, "If we were heathens, if we weren't Christians of the church, she would beat you. But she's not going to beat you. She's going to take your scarf, that you have on your head. Because we're not heathens. But your scarf, ah, we have to take that." And I got a beautiful scarf! [laughs]

And then I say, "Sit, on the ground!" And she does this [R gets on her knees]. I say, "Take off the scarf." She takes off the scarf. "Give it to me, you. Put it here, in my hands, you." Then she takes her scarf, she puts it in my hands. And I [put it on]. Ah! Long ago! . . . And then to her older sister, I say, "Bring me a stick, you." And her sister, she goes and finds a stick. And then I do this. "You, you will not bother me anymore! Remember that I am greater than you! Do you hear? Ask forgiveness!" "Ah, I'm sorry!" "And say that you won't bother me anymore!" "Ah, I won't bother anymore those who are greater than I." All right. I take the stick, I throw it away. I say, "Look, this scarf, I'm taking it. But it's not for me to use on my head. I'll give it to my mother." I take the scarf, and I go. And I went home with that scarf. When I got home, I went to give it to my mother—"Mama! I brought this scarf. Do you know how I got it? . . . " "Do you see? Isn't that what I've been telling you? That you don't just sit, my daughter, sit there, without going into the woods, to do that? Knowing that men really like a woman who has those things, big ones? Mmm. You already met up with one who bothered you, you took her scarf. . . . "

But my uncle, he managed to find out that I, Prescida, Felista, Heidi, 2 [girls] in his own house, we had to go out to the woods, to do that. And there was one day that I got a beating, with Heidi. That day, we went to the edge of the river, with girls from my place [mbangu]. 3 Girls from that place, Ntoteleni, they came to invite the girls of Songeni, our place, to go to the woods. For what? To see whose are biggest! Mmm. Sometimes five or six came, and invited us. "Ah, let's go to the woods, let's go to the woods!" We went to the edge of the river, the river Limpopo—but in Shangaan it's Mimiti. . . . We go to the edge of the river, where it's full of trees, lots of trees. We sit down there, with them. We do that pulling, to see who has big ones, who has small ones, who has average ones. It was, it was a pleasure of that time! . . . Then, when we finished that, well, we went in there, to bathe, voom-voom, voom-voom, to swim. The ones who knew how to swim, they swam. . . . And then that day, there were boys, sixteen or seventeen years old, they see that group [of girls]! And they're interested to see what the girls have! They go to hide! Where there are many trees, where we were hiding. But we don't know that there's a man hiding there, to see those things. They were very interested, to know who had bigger ones!... And then, they see that, heh! Hmm! [R whispers:] "That group there, there is Rosalina, there is Heidi, there is Prescida, there is Felista. Daughters of the minister!"

Well. They went back, and they went to complain to my uncle. "Eh! Do you know, mufundhisi, there, in that forest by the river, they are hiding in those trees, in that long grass. With girls who come from over there, Ntoteleni, who came to invite the girls of this place." "What are they doing?" "Eeh! They're doing heathen things." "They're doing heathen things?" "We were going there, hunting birds. But then, we heard a noise, talking. And we went there, to look. We saw that, eee! There were many there, sitting there, in the same place—but also daughters of this house, they're there." "They are?!" "Yes. Rosalina, Heidi, Prescida, Felista. And other girls of the church are there. . . . " "All right. Go there, [but] don't go right to where they are. Call Heidi, Prescida, Felista, Rosalina. That their father is calling them." And they arrived there. It was Jaime Massingue. Hah! [laughs] And he went there. "Heh! Heidi! Rosalina! Felista! Prescida! Your father, he's calling you!" Eh! Mmm! When [the girls] heard that, "Aaaahh! Let's get out of here! We can't let a man see us! We don't want a man here! He's spying on us, he's spying on us! Let's go! . . . " And my uncle there at home. "Hah! It's true. Rosalina is there, Heidi is there, Prescida is there, Felista is there. My daughters. Who are not heathens! Shee! They're going to get a beating!"

Then, those girls from Ntotoleni, they went home. And our neighbors also, each went home to her own house. Ah. I, Prescida, Felista, Heidi, we went into the house. Then, he asks, "Where did you go? Ah! Get in here!" And then, no one answered. What could you answer? "You were doing what over there? But don't you know that is the work of heathens?! It's not the work of you who pray! Who told you to do that, that work of the heathens?!" Felista, she went out. Prescida, she went out. "Here, Heidi stays, and Racelina." 4 The daughters of his sister, they left. Because, if he beats them, he'll think of his sister, who died. . . . And he said thus. "I don't want to hear that you are doing that! Because that is the work of heathens!" And I was so afraid of a beating! [laughs] But also, I was very smart! When I see that he's going to beat me, I try to run out to the woods! He shuts the door. "Yeee! Yah-yah-yah-yah!" And Heidi, she was so defiant! She didn't care about being beaten. I, I began to scream. "Aaahhh! Papa, forgive me!"—he hadn't yet beaten me, but he was picking up a switch. How they hurt!. . . . "Papa, forgive me! I won't do it again!" "Ah! Who is it who told you to do that work? It's heathen work!" "I know, Papa, that it's heathen work! But forgive me!" He says, "I'm going to beat you!" . . . And Heidi, I don't know what she had, but when she was beaten, she didn't cry out! She didn't cry out. He says, "When you don't cry, I'll keep going!" She says, "Ah, forgive me, Papa." . . . She comes out, on her throat, she caught two blows there, it was all swollen. Then he opens the door. He says, "Get out! You're a heathen!" . . . And that night, in church, he began to speak. "Look, you who during the day went out there, come and ask forgiveness from God. Because God doesn't want that. When he made two mitsingi, they weren't made for pulling! Now, you know this is a sin. Whoever is a believer, who has faith in God, cannot do that, because it's a sin. You have to beg God for forgiveness."

And later, when all that finished, well. My mother, she didn't want that. She kept quiet, it was two, three, four days. Then one day I was eating. The one who didn't continue doing it, was Heidi. But Prescida, she continued in secret. Felista continued in secret. Christina also continued in secret—but that one didn't get a beating, because on that day she wasn't there.

H: And you?
R: Hah, hah! My mother didn't let me stop! Me, not continue? Hee! After two, three days, it still hurt, where I was beaten. And then one day my mother said this. "Eh, Buxeni." "Mama?" "Hmm! You, are you going to be married, or aren't you going to be married?" "Mama, I'll be married." She says, "You won't be married. If you're married, your husband, he won't be happy with you. The one who takes you, he won't be happy with you. That one who beats you, that uncle of yours, he won't follow around behind you! You go out alone, don't invite anyone! Go there, continue with that work! Because you know very well that men don't like a woman without those things. And they call her, they say she's not a woman, she's a dzingo! 5 A woman who doesn't have those things, she has no value!" . . . And for sure, I went out there, to the woods! I had to go. She even helped me, preparing medicines for me. . . . "Buxeni!" "Mama?" "Come here. You see this." "Ah! It's a leech, mama." "Go, burn it." . . . Or she picked up her hoe, sometimes she went to find an ndzenga tree. She dug, she took that root, she cut it up, she put it in the clay jar for me. "Here it is, go and drink it." And later, mine were very big!! Long, and a little wide. Mmm, I had them. But without anyone knowing. The only ones who knew were Prescida, because she didn't abandon it. And Felista, she didn't abandon it. Because our mothers—Heidi's mother, and the other one, my aunt, the other wife of Kuswane, called Muhlavasse, they say, "You, leave Heidi alone, she's the true daughter of the minister. If she doesn't want to do it, leave her alone. But you go out, secretly. Because you know that a man really likes those things. He could have more than five wives, but the one who has those things, he doesn't want to leave her side!"

Fighting Story: Author | Albertina | Rosalina | Valentina


Note 1: Sacana (Portuguese): a person of low character, a kidder.  Back.

Note 2: Heidi Malungana, daughter of Rosalina's uncle Dane; she was named after a Swiss Mission teacher.  Back.

Note 3: Mbangu is a specific place or spot; however, it is also used to refer to clusters of homesteads within a chieftaincy.  Back.

Note 4: Racelina was the name Rosalina received when she was baptized in 1927; she was renamed Rosalina by her Portuguese husband Agosto in the mid-1930s.  Back.

Note 5: A deep hole in a watercourse (e.g., in a river or a lake).  Back.


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