I am a result of a polygamous marriage A marriage that was a thorn in my Mother's heart. Each time when she told her story a part of her bled it's something that she couldn't date back to without coming back with an ocean of tears. She was young at that time and very innocent she told me that her upbringing was one that I should never envy. She lived in a small village a village that undermined women. See during those times Girls were brainwashed into thinking that marriage was their highest calling. They were discouraged into seeking education as means to better themselves. At home their female elders were strongly advised to teach them nothing but domesticated work. You had to be taught how to clean cook do the laundry as early as the age of 12. Even though in those times girls were oppressed My Mother never gave up on her dream of going to school. She wanted to be different she wanted to be educated. They had a mobile clinic that would come at least 3 times a month to provide medical care and attention to those who needed it she told me that the female Nurses who came stole her heart. She envied them and how they would carry themselves not forgetting their eye catching uniform. She always made sure to wake up very early and do most of her chores before the mobile clinic arrived if her Father wasn't around at home her Mother would finish up the chores and she would rush to the clinic to observe the Nurses while they went about with their work. She would say and I qoute:

"Mani that was the only place that gave me peace the only place that made my world fascinating. It gave me hope that one day I would be like them"

Her Mother was very supportive of her dreams but her Father shared different sentiments. He was looking forward to her Daughter marrying a wealthy man since they were poor he made sure that my Grandmother taught her everything that she needed to know in preparation for her to get married. My Mother and her Mother had it all figured out they agreed that when she turns 17 she would run away and go to Johannesburg the city of gold and made her dream come true. Her dream of becoming a Nurse. I would like to say yes she did run away and fate was on her side like a husband leading her through and supporting her dream but.. That was not the case. As soon as she turned 17 and was ready to make her escape unfortunately some old man took an interest in her he eyed her for the very first time when he saw her Emhlangeni formally known as the "Reed dance" for young virgin women who are coming out of age..

Umhlanga (Reed dance) is a very popular ceremony amongst the Zulu and Swazi tribes. It's where unmarried and childless girls leave their homes to gather for the eight days event in a certain village. With Swati girls they gather at a place known as "Ludzidzi" Royal village whilst the Zulu girls theirs is at Nongoma in KwaZulu-Natal. It was first introduced in the 1940s at Swaziland under the rule of Sobhuza the second in adaption to the much older "Umcwasho" ceremony. The culture went further on to be popular in most parts of South Africa not forgetting it's introduction in KwaZulu-Natal by chief Goodwill Zwelithini who is currently still the king of the Zulu tribe. All girls are obliged to undergo a virginity test before they could participate in the reed dance ceremony. If you pass the test then you will be allowed to participate in the dance. The girls are required to wear traditional attires which include skirts that are made of beard work they also wear Izigege and izincuba a type of clothing that reveal most parts of their bodies such as the buttocks. Umhlanga is every Mother's joyful moment and every Father's pride. It shows that their Daughter is respectful of the culture and rules which are withheld in the household. It's how Parents continue to be respected by other villagers unlike when your Daughter's pride has been taken out of wedlock then you become a joke of the village and all respect is gone. When such happens other Parents are forced to drive their Daughters away from home in order to restore their dignity since she had brought shame into their home...My Mother's marriage was the only thing that brought joy into her Father's heart that was the only moment that he had ever been proud of her. Her being married off to that man despite the age difference meant that her family was going to escape the life of poverty and most girls were going to look up to her and most would be jealous not forgetting the village as a whole respecting the Ngwenya household...

Prior to my Mother's marriage the old man had two wives already and the first wife was said to have an evil heart and she was very related to witchcraft rumors circled around that she was able to keep her man with witchcraft. Although my Grandfather knew the dangers of having her Daughter married off to that man he didn't care. All he cared about was his status and the respect that he was going to get from the village. Indeed the negotiations and the traditional wedding were a success he didn't care. All he cared about was his status and the respect that he was going to get from the village. Indeed the negotiations and the traditional wedding were a success People had plenty to eat and drink. She told me that people ate soo much meat that they even had to take some to their homes. They had slaughtered a cow and 4 chickens. Even after the wedding was over my Grandfather had another cow and chickens slaughterd for villagers to come and eat just for bragging purposes. The man had taken out 10 cows for Lobola. He had also given them one of his farms My family became the most richest family in the village when my my mother got married. Villagers bowed down to them they worshiped the ground that my Grandfather walked on and most men begged him for jobs at the farm. He went from a nobody to an important person in the village because of her Daughter's marriage to a rich man who was almost his age..

She said that things were okay when she moved in with her husband and her sister wives although the first wife didn't like her that much but her and the second wife were very close. Along the way she learned that the reason why her husband married her was because he wanted her to give him a Son seeing that both wives only gave him Daughters. He had hoped that a young wife would give him a son that he had desperately been wishing for but things didn't go according to how he had planned. My Mother's first pregnancy it was a boy but he died shortly after birth she and the second wife stood firm together that the first wife was the reason behind my Brother's death. I mean if my Brother survived that meant he was going to inherit everything and the first wife couldn't have that she couldn't have a young girl take over everything that her and her two girls were meant to inherit.. A few months after my Mother fell pregnant again unfortunately she miscarried and again the first wife was suspected in having a hand. She just didn't wanna give up. The cycle went on my Mother fell pregnant again and I was born I was said to have survived because I was a girl. The first wife allowed for my birth to be a success since her witch Aunt "already saw" that it was a girl.. After my birth things started to go bad for my Mom. Her husband that loved her dearly began to withdraw from her he started to treat her like shit because he was disappointed that he was a Father to yet another girl again life in her marital household was no longer nice. She thought about going back home but that would bring her Parents shame and her Father would disown her so in hopes of starting on a clean slate she ran away. She ran away with me and she didn't even have much with her other than a small bag with my nappies she didn't pack anything for herself..

She had to save me from growing up in an abusive environment she had to put herself first before anything.. Young as she was with a baby and being on the run wasn't easy but then that brave step led her to the city of gold. A city that her and her Mother always talked about a city that was meant to welcome her by making her dream of becoming a Nurse come true...

How she ended up in Johannesburg was that she was found walking on the side of the road at night by a truck driver the driver had a heart to stop and gave her a lift on their journey to Johannesburg she told him the truth and he felt sorry for her. When she told that part she would say "Mani God didn't leave me God heard my prayer. If that driver didn't stop I don't know what would've happened to us".. When they got to Johannesburg he allowed for her to live with him in a room that he was renting up until she was able to stand on her own two feet. When she was busy seeking independence she was drawn closer to the stranger that helped her that night that's when a romantic relationship was initiated between them. When she thought that her problems were over he started getting really sick and then he died. We learned later that he was HIV positive his job that kept him away from home made him to endulge his sexual hunger by sleeping with a lot of women and some he never used protection. We also learned that he had a church of kids that he never really took care off. When he died we were back to square one my Mother had to hustle her way through in providing for me. By God's grace she got herself a job from a very well known and wealthy family the Ndarha family. She became their servant. Life became better but it was not long until tragedy visited us again my Mom got sick and then she passed on. She had kept it from everyone that she was HIV positive too she never even bothered to seek medical attention until she was gravely ill with full blown Aids. She wanted to keep it from her employers because she thought they would kick her out if they found out that she was Hiv positive. When she passed on I had to step up and take over from her..


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