I want to take time today to write and post a bit of non-fiction.
Yesterday’s post was inspired, in part, by a living, breathing human being who embodies so many other living, breathing human beings in Namibia – its women. Specifically older women.
Young people in Namibia are drawn to the cities and towns to find work. Our unemployment rate in the country is over 50%. Even so, the youth don’t return home to the rural areas from which they came when they don’t find jobs in the cities and towns. All too frequency pregnancies result from one-night stands and casual flings, and the babies born into this poverty are shipped back home to the rural areas, where only the old women are left living. These grandmothers, who are old and poorer than dirt, are expected to care for the kids. They often have seven or more kids in their care and live off a monthly State pension of around U$70.
It breaks my heart. These poor old ladies spent their lives under the threat and repression of an apartheid regime and military presence. They were treated as less than human. Twenty-one years after the country’s independence, they are still not given the respect and dignity they so deserve. Often the grandchildren they care for will steal their monthly incomes. These old ladies are, in essence, still seen as objects rather than people.
My mother lives in a rural area. She is seventy-six years old and also lives off the State pension. When I took my family there for a holiday in August last year, I also brought a camera with me to capture a little bit of the world she inhabits, and the people that share it with her.
Julia ya Mbinda doesn’t know how old she is. She thinks she’s ninety-seven. She is blind. She cares for her kids and grandkids. Her life is unbearably difficult, but she never, ever complains. Ever.
She sang a song for me. It was sung by her father and his contemporaries over eighty years ago. It has never been recorded and would have been forgotten forever once she died if I had not filmed it. The words tell of spanning oxen before going on a trek.
The chorus: “It is hard, it is hard, it is hard.”
Meme (Mother) Julia sang the song to me in a hut in the middle of the bush. She sang with her heart. I am forever greatful, and dedicate the small film clip I put together to her and to all of the women of Namibia.
Please see the clip here:
It Is Hard – Sung by Julia ya Mbida
I will not be near a computer until Monday/Tuesday next week, so this will be my last post until then. Thanks very much for all your support and have a fantastic week(end).