Friday, 18 February 2011
The Rural Life is Rooted in my heart and Soul
Night stories back home when I was still growing up used to be around people who had left home to be lost in the cities in search for better lives and employment opportunities. Usually those these people barely made it back home alive and those who did return came frail and weak that it was a norm that they only lived for few days. The tricky part my grandmother, who had never been to the city, used to warm me that those people forgot where home was as soon as they walked into tall Skyscrapers with fancy lights. Use your hardcore rural values as tools for survival. Looking back she really did prepare me for when my time came to tackle the big bad city life.
Most of my rural peers find themselves in places like me. After high school nowadays we all scramble on buses and taxis to find our "South African dream" in the city! With the famous city being the City of Gold or Makhoweni as they would called in my home village of Bolobedu, Ga-Modjadji. A couple of those people I grew up with might accuse me of being stuck in stone-age time and call me a disgrace to the modern generation because I nothing can tear me away from this rural part of me, which still dominates. " Move with the times" my late sister used to always tell me, whenever we spoke on the phone and she heard my rural accent.
I'm hard to convert and not easily influenced. This dispels all those notions and stereotypes that rural people, especially girls are submissive and utter push overs. I wouldn't urge anyone to test that theory. Rural girls are very head strong and can be hot-headed when they fancy takes them. We are not pushy but we cannot be pushed either.
The common weakness is that loving with all that we've got. Closely knitted communities we are born into teach us the value of giving and sharing. This is unsuspicious generousity is mistakenly seen as foolishness because it makes us vulnerable to people who are only like taking advantage. And the city is filled with them.
Respect for others is the most important lesson folks in villages give to the young generation. Regardless of whether they relate to them or not. Older people are to be respected, we were always told. And if you were hard headed and assertive like me, that lesson would be hammered into your head constantly enough until it became like second nature to you.
A friend of mine once made an assumption that rural women are too subservient and encourage patriarchy in society. Her point was that we serve men like kings even if they are good for nothings who don't deserve that kind of treatment. To her that kind of respect we dish out to men smacks of lack of self esteem. That a mistake.
To us respect is respect is part of life and keeps families together. My mother always says that just because a person is being who they are should not mean that a woman has to stop being herself. If I disrespected someone because I didn't like how they talk to me it would make me no better than that person.
Woman in my community have always inspired me for their commitment to their families and keeping in checks and balances around their household the only way they know how. People are poor but you will never find a shack in my community, woman make mud bricks to build houses that they turn into homes for their families. Most men I know from these places know better than to mistreat the people who take care of them like their own mothers did. Still not all women from rural areas are meant to be raising families. Some of us will probably go on to embrace the new life of being independent as its now generally accepted without setting the community tongues wagging as people speculate why you cannot get married.
Back in my city life, my flatmate who is from ekasi always wonders why I can never say there is no food to eat even when sometimes all we have is mealie meal, salt and maybe a few spices and a cooking oil. As long as there are pot, electricity and water there is no reason for a woman to cry hunger. We make do with what we have just like my mother would do so often as I was growing up with my cousins. While she was busy over the fire with those home made clay pots, we kept busy by cooking soil in little tins, making mock pap.
Looking back now though, I am from a lucky generation. There has been a few moments of darkness in my childhood but my grandfather's main household was the first of a few in my community to be fitted with electricity. Despite the lack of privacy we had growing up with my siblings and relatives, watching TV was on of the modern luxuries we had at the time. Almost all of the village's population would flock to my grandfather's yard when it was time for prime time TV dramas. Little children would all cramp together in the roundavel , starring at the TV which was perched on top of the fridge, while the older ones sat outside with windows and the door widely open.
A trip back home during holidays is no longer the same this days. Dusty streets have been replaced with pavements, bakkies have been replaced with taxis, the dark trails are now bright streets and river water is no longer safe to drink. Rurals are fast becoming cities.