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Work Story: Author | Albertina | Rosalina | Valentina

Lives of Girls (Rosalina Malungana)
Work Story


28 February 1996, Facazisse

H: What kinds of things did you do when you were a girl?
R: Ah, my work was to go to the field, come home, know how to pound corn, to grind that pounded corn, to cook, how to cook nkaka, how to cook mbowa [greens] and vuswa [thick maize porridge]. To learn those things, to grow up knowing these things. My mother taught me all these things, mmm, my mother. And also the hoe, it was my mother who taught me. . . .

Because, it's she who goes to her field, with that child, to teach her, right? From the time she's six or seven years old, or eight. That's when she begins to teach the child, to go with her to the field. In the morning, waking up, she wakes up the child. "Get up, go and wash!" She makes a hoe like this, this size, a small hoe. So that [the child] will go, "Tukutu-tukutu-tukutu-tukutu" [R imitates chipping at soil with hoe]. That, it's for her hands to get used to it. Mmm. To give strength, so she gets used to it. Now when, you go out a little, until over there, that little section, you cultivate it. When you finish, [your mother] says, "Shee! Who did that? . . . Heh-heh! You cultivated, my child, didn't you!" "Eee, I cultivated." . . . "Indeed, my child. That's good! Mmm. That's good. You strengthened your hands, my child. You go home now, all right?" "Eee." "You go home and play." Here [in the field], it's to get used to that work. Morning after morning . . . the sun comes up. "Mama?" "Let's get up and go to the field!" "Eee, mama, let's go!" You see the little part from yesterday, where you cultivated. Your mother arrives, she says "Eh! Well, my child, you can cultivate here, all right? And you stop over there. Mmm. . . . Cultivate, my child, all right? Like you did yesterday. . . ." "Eee, mama." She says, "Yah, I'm cultivating over there, you cultivate like you did yesterday, my child, all right? Here. When we finish hoeing, when there's rain, we'll sow here. . . ."

Mmm. You grow and you get used to these things. . . . Well, she goes. Yesterday, she was very happy! [R demonstrates child hoeing, with quick short strokes] Well, you really want to work. You hoe, you hoe, well, you arrive over there. The sun, it isn't hot yet. Eeh. "When I get there, Mama will be happy!" Well, it's getting hot. "Eh, let's go home!" "Eee!" . . . Mmm. She comes here, to see what you've done. "Hee! Today, do you see this? You cultivated more than yesterday! You worked, truly, my child. You really worked! Shee! Heh! You're a woman!" That is, if you work like this, you'll be a a courageous woman. "When the rain falls, we'll sow here. When the corn ripens, here, you will harvest it. Well, we'll separate out those tingumu [defective maize cobs]. Well, those big ones, you'll go to the shop. You'll go and buy a little dress, all by yourself! Won't you be happy?"

And I too, I was like my mother. I had that thing, that I have to be working. Me, I go to my fields, to cultivate, sometimes [my mother] says, "Eh, it's midday, go home!" I say, "Eee! I'm going home." I take the little hoe. I go "ee, ee, ee." [R imitates hoeing quickly] And I know that if I pass that place over there, where there are a lot of tinhlampfurha [castor oil bushes], with my basket [xirhundzu]—the person who made that xirhundzu, it was the youngest sister of my mother, that Tenda. Eeh. I say, "Mama, I'm going home, it's midday, all right?" She says, "Go home! Go to the river, wash up, go home—there's vuswa inside, eat that vuswa. And sauce, it's there too." I say, "Eee, I saw it there." "Mmm, go home, my child. You've worked today."

Happy! I leave from here—but I see tinhlampfurha, when they're already falling, those seeds. I go and gather them up, that tinhlampfurha, I fill my basket, I put it on my head. When there is a lot, my mother can fill a gogogo [4-gallon tin], she'll take it to the Banyan's shop. Mmm. She'll buy me a dress. Because, I already told you that my uncle was pretty feeble about helping us. . . . Well, my mother, she was already used to it, she had to cultivate, and sell tinhlampfurha, and those nkuhlu seeds. Well, my mother returns, she finds that there is tinhlampfurha there, in the can. "Heh, Buxeni!" "Mama?" "Are you the one who harvested that tinhlampfurha?" I say, "Eee! I gathered them." "Heh! Thank you, my child! You really worked! You left the field, you gathered tinhlampfurha?" I say, "Eee, I gathered them. Well, I went to the river. I returned home, I got that corn, I ground it." To help my mother. Then my mother was always happy with me. She says, "They will help us, those things, You did well, my child."


Work Story: Author | Albertina | Rosalina | Valentina


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