Maybe it’s just my opinion. Maybe it’s the razzmatazz of daily life, I don’t know. I write posts, I go on and on about my unfortunate love experiences, ranting and bluffing; but my eyes are open, keen on what goes on around me; quarrels, people fighting over a quarter acre of land, jiggers rendering people handicapped, young men beefing over this widow or that, women and men gossiping, blah blah blah… I see and hear it all.
There’s one thing that has always disturbed me. It breaks my heart and each day I promise myself that I must write about it, but other things come up. My conscience bothers me, maybe my heart also grew cold just like most men in the society. I don’t want to go that way. I was born sensitive to other people’s suffering, or it could be, it has something to do with the hardship I went through as a child, I don’t know. The society has taught her men poorly and selfishly … men are brought up to believe that their role in marriage is to provide (saddly not all provide), while all other duties are left to the wife.
The village housewife is the most affected by this mindset. Forget about the town wife who albeit enjoys a little prestige that urban life offers. Let’s not even talk about the working women,they have househelps, drives to work and only have two kids but still whines about being overwhelmed by the responsibilities of motherhood.
Sorry, let me go straight to my point without wasting your time…
The Village housewife, in most cases, is a primary school leaver. The parents probably could not afford to take her to a secondary school and she had to do with the basic education. Three years after she finished primary eight, the parents got tired of feeding her. She gets pregnant and circumstances force her to get married to her boyfriend, who for your information, is a secondary school dropout and survives on menial jobs at construction sites, mjengo. Five years into the informal marriage, they already have three kids.
Since the husband has to leave early for his work and the elder kid, almost five years old now, has to attend nursery at the local school. She is forced to wake at 5:30 am, (we are talking about village where there’s no electricity and no floodlights) and heads to the river to fetch water. Two trips with a bucket of water sets her back 30 minutes. By the time she is back, the lastborn(a girl) , seemingly 3 months old, is awake and crying uncontrollably while the husband is brushing his teeth outside. She takes and breastfeeds the kid, then fastens her to her back and goes ahead to prepare breakfast.
When the husband is gone, she takes to bathing the firstborn and getting him ready for school. At this time the other one … a boy … is already awake, nagging and throwing tantrums, his clothes drenched in urine. She changes his clothes and sits him down for breakfast (strong tea with no bread). Done, she sees the elder boy to school, the little one strapped to her back.
It’s now 7:30 a.m when she comes back… She airs the bedding wetted by the kids, at this point the little girl is now crying on her back, she is hungry. She sits down to breastfeed her, thinking of what her next move is. Her day is just about to begin…
The Day Begins.
Her maize farm just next to the home, is overgrown with weeds; and with the sign of heavy clouds in the sky, it’s likely going to rain. This means she has to tend to the farm first. Luckily, the baby somehow falls asleep. She puts her to bed and picks up a jembe, hoe. It’s 9 am and the sun is scorching real bad. Halfway through the farm, she hears the baby crying and scurries to the house, almost leaving behind her jembe. She gives the baby a nappy change and breastfeeds her. She recalls she has dirty laundry and time is flying fast.
It’s 10:45 am when she decides to head to the river and do her laundry. She has to be back by 12:30 pm, the time when her boy gets back from school, to prepare lunch for her family plus she has a chama to attend at two. The other boy is left playing with a neighbour’s kids. Washing clothes with the baby on her back is such a daunting task, and this drags her to 1 pm. She hurries home with the little kid wailing on her back, she is almost going mad. When she arrives, her son is back home playing with his sibling around the hut. After hanging the clothes in the line, she fetches some firewood within the homestead and quickly prepares lunch.
By the time she is done and ready to leave for Chama, it’s 2:30 pm; this means she is late and will have to part with Kshs 20, as fine.
The Chama ends at some minutes past four, rain almost pouring. (Don’t forget she left clothes and children bedding out) . She has to get firewood for preparing supper. Remember, the husband will come back from work tired and in a foul mood.
So next time you start complaining how overburdened you are with taking care of your family and work, think twice. Chances are, you have a househelp, you use kerosene or gas or charcoal to cook. You buy water from a nearby kiosk or is delivered to your doorstep. You have a television and can spare time to catch your favourite soap opera.
This women deserve a national public holiday. They are worth all the Presidential Honours. These women carry burden more than the camels or Llamas combined.
Posted by Mr. Jagweng