MaNtombi Idah Charunda
Mantombi never thought she would live to have a family of her own. Her mother was the lesser of her father's two wives because she could not give her husband living sons. "My father hated us. My paternal grandmother hated us. We were that we are useless because we are girls."
Telling her story still makes her emotional as she recollects how she had to wear the bigger sackcloth and her tall and petite sister wore the smaller sackcloth because their mother could not afford decent clothing.
Coming from a poor family, her father's complete disregard for his daughters forced Mantombi's mother to go out in search for occasional jobs which include cultivating at different farms. At one time, her mother had to work for a whole week to be given a cow's head just so her daughters could taste the meat. She could never raise money to send her daughters to school until they were both married off.
Only when she was married, did Mantombi get her first blanket and gave birth to five children. Three boys and two girls. She recalls how death took her three sons and left her with her daughters and feared they would have the life she lived.
She shares a ngano, in the form of a song, which her mother used to sing when they went to the fields, and she would "ask" Tsuro (rabbit) to take care of her child while she worked on the land. The ngano is reflective of the environment we are in "here and now" and how women continue to carry the burden of care for their families. Even when production is low, like the current lockdown, we can only hope for a better future.
[Whispering Silence] This project was made possible with support from Africalia and the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation of Belgium.