Email this citation

Lives of Grandmothers: Author | Albertina | Rosalina | Valentina

Lives of Grandmothers (Albertina Tiwana)
Fahlaza Dzumbeni


19 December 1995, Facazisse

H: I don't understand something, vovo. Last time you said your mother's father was Mafavaze Khosa, but now you're saying that the husband of Fahlaza [Albertina's mother's mother] was Maguxe Tivane?
A: This is what happened. So you will know the story. Kokwana Fahlaza, she accepted Mafavaze as a lover. When he hadn't married her. And he, he was just a young man, and she was a girl. Her mother, she forbade it. She says, "If you go and marry at the chief's place, because he is the chief, you will suffer!" And yet, Fahlaza was pregnant, with my mother. They ask her, they say, "That pregnancy, where did you find it?" She says, "It's Mafavaze's." They, they say, "We don't want you to go and marry there. You could suffer, there at the chief's place. 1 Me, [i.e., Fahlaza's father] I'm the ndota 2 over there, I see the suffering there. . . . You could suffer, because it's the chief's place." Well, later she accepted Maguxe as a lover. He takes out what they ask for, for lovolo. She goes and marries at the Tivane's, at Maguxe's place. Mmm. . . . She goes to marry at Maguxe's, and she, my mother, she stays at [Fahlaza's] home, at the Dzumbeni's. She grew up with her grandparents. . . .

Kokwana Fahlaza, she didn't kutlhavela tinhlanga [cut tattoos]. 3 They do it, the ones who capture her, there in Chopiland. In the time of the wars. They deceive her, they go to the river, they cut her there at the river. She refuses, it doesn't matter. They were just little ones, right here [A indicates stomach]. They hurt! They really hurt, she even gets sick.

H: How was Fahlaza captured?
A: They seize her [during] the wars over there. It was like this war, now. They arrive, they take her, even though she has her own husband. My mother, she was staying at her grandmother's place. Well, they go with [Fahlaza], to Chopiland. That's where they cut her tattoos, over there. . . . Those VaChopi, they cut her!
R: She was captured in whose war?
A: Since I wasn't yet born, I don't know. . . . She gave birth to my mother. [My mother] stays with her grandmother. They seize [Fahlaza] there at Maguxe's place, there! [A hits the ground] Those people in the war, they go with her. And her child left behind, Maguxe's child. My mother was small. And me, I wasn't yet born, my mother hadn't yet married. She's staying at her grandmother's. They go and seize her! For slavery! They went with her, those of the war, those ones. Fahlaza, she goes and stays over there. . . . They [i.e. Fahlaza and other captives] go with them, over there. They go, they give them out [i.e., the female captives] 4 to the men. They marry there. She gives birth—she comes back with three children. From over there. Because of the war. . . . They arrive at her vukatini [marriage home], at Maguxe's place, those VaChopi soldiers. They take her, meanwhile the others run, because they are afraid of being killed. . . . Her husband, they call out a warning to him, from here in the pumpkin field. They were in the pumpkin field, he goes "eee" [A indicates direction of Maguxe's flight]. He runs. He goes to hide. His wife, she takes a cloth. She wraps up her child, [the child] follows over there, with her husband. They arrive here, where they are building a hut, right here where they are finishing the hut wall with reeds, they go "eee." They flatten themselves to crawl through, until they go "tswoo!" They run. She, Fahlaza, she gets them outside, that wife there. She goes outside, [the soldiers] go off with her. Mmm. They arrive over there, in Chopiland, they divide everything up. They give her a husband. She gives birth to three children. They return with her. He goes to take her, her brother, he storms over there. He returns home with her, he accompanies her back to her husband, Maguxe. He was a policeman, for the xikanikiso. 5 He went with his brother, that older one. They go, two people. They cook food for the journey, they go. On foot. And she, Fahlaza, she goes to show them her children. They take them, they return with them.
H: I don't understand, first the brother took Fahlaza home, and later Fahlaza went back to fetch her children?
A: Mmm. She goes to visit, to see whether maybe they're living, maybe they died, from the war.
H: But vovo, how did Fahlaza get home the first time?
A: Mmm. They say, "Leave the children." She leaves the children there. They say that if she takes them, she will never return.
H: Okay. So later, when she went back to fetch the children, what happened then?
A: He [Fahlaza's Chopi husband] says, "I'm going with you, to your house. So that I will know that place, I'll be able to find it again, I'll visit you." Well, he goes with them, this man. . . . [When they arrive at Fahlaza's family home], her brothers say to him, "This one, she's no longer going home [with you]. She was married with lovolo, and we ate it, our wealth. The money, we ate it. You, go home! Anyway, don't you have a wife? We went to war, truly, now there is no war. She is the wife of someone already." He says, "I will hang myself!" [laughs] They say, "This child, do you see him there? You take her to Chopiland, and she has this child. This child has its father, even if it wasn't born here [A slaps the ground]." He says, "I will hang myself. I will kill myself." They say, "Go home! If you don't go home, we will report you to the authorities, they will say, 'Lock him up over there, at the xikanikiso!'" Well, he leaves, he goes, he goes home. Maybe he died over there at his home, I don't know. He never returned. . . .
H: How did Fahlaza feel about all of this?
A: She wanted to live with her husband of long ago, this one, Maguxe, with him. He's the one she wants, [she left] because she was captured, she didn't want to go.
H: Do you know how long she stayed there, in Chopiland?
A: I don't know, I wasn't born yet. We hear these things from when they are talking, talking, talking. Yah.
H: Do you know how Maguxe reacted when Fahlaza returned home?
A: Fahlaza's brothers accompanied her back to her vukatini, her old one. They, they had eaten the cattle, she was married with cattle. They accompanied her to where she was married. Maguxe and Fahlaza, they loved each other. Because when she leaves, she [had given] birth to one child. Well, she stays, she gives birth again. . . . Those children there, of the Chopi man, they are three. Those of Maguxe, four. Mmm. Well, they are eight, put together, the children of Fahlaza [including her first-born, Albertina's mother]. When they grew up, they were called by the xivongo [clan name] of Maguxe. Mmm.
H: Did Fahlaza ever talk about her life there, in Chopiland, or what the people there were like?
A: Hah! [laughs] Mmm, she says things. Oh, when they go out, they drink byala [maize beer], they dance. And she, she danced that way of over there, that way of ku kapa-kapa [hanging down on both sides; A mimics dancing with arms waving around at her sides; laughs]. She takes the songs, the women sing to accompany her, she dances that xichopi way. She doesn't know how to dance, well, she learned the way over there. . . . She learned the dances of over there! [laughs] Later, she returns here, and they, her fellow women, they dance, and she, she sings to accompany them, they lure her, she dances that kapa-kapa way, of over there, for the women here. Over here, in Magude, they danced with their bellies. Well she, she goes and takes the songs, she dances that xichopi way for them. They made their navels dance, our grandmothers, here.
H: Were there other things that Fahlaza brought back with her, for example a different way of dressing, or different foods?
A: Well, there was food there, she cooks, and she cultivates her own fields. Mmm. She harvested, she has a corn-crib, she has peanuts, beans. Her brothers when they arrive, she cooks those things for them. Yah. They stayed a month there, those brothers. She cooked many things for them, they eat, they fill themselves, her brothers. [Fahlaza] says, "Maybe they will finish these things that I harvested." Sesame, peanuts, they eat, she prepares xigugu, 6 they eat. It is more than enough food. . . . When Fahlaza returns here, she cooks our way of cooking. But she shows them, at her vukatini, at Maguxe's, the way of cooking of over there. She taught them, they see these things when she is cooking. . . . She cooks manioc—[the VaChopi] pick nkaka, they mix it with manioc. Here, they don't want these things. [The VaChopi] shell corn, that wet [i.e. green] corn. They grind it. They pick nkaka. They mix it together, those VaChopi. Well, they mix those things together—[laughs] they eat it! Well we, we don't do these things. We cook xiginya, 7 stiff! . . . We learned those things, but we weren't really used to them. Mmm. And she, because she sees that we don't like those things, we aren't used to cooking these things, we cooked the xichangana [Shangaan] way, our way. . . . [A explains in detail how to prepare and serve vuswa the proper Shangaan way]. Even now, even now, we know these things. . . . And over there, they cultivate with little hoes. But she, she cultivates with the long hoe, the way we cultivate here. She doesn't want their way, mm-mm. And they grab, they grab the grass. With that little hoe, they go "hmm" [A demonstrates cutting grass bundle at root]. They take away that tussock! [laughs] But here, we don't do it that way! And she, she cultivated our way, you grab the hoe with your two hands, you go "hmm"! [A demonstrates wide arm-swinging motion]. Mmm. Our way. And she, she doesn't accept to be taught that way, over there! [laughs] That shows that she didn't want that vukatini, in Chopiland. She wanted here, Maguxe's place, here. Mmm.


Lives of Grandmothers: Author | Albertina | Rosalina | Valentina


Note 1: Mafavaze Khosa was one of Magudzu Khosa's younger brothers. In 1898, he became regent-chief of Khocene for Magudzu's young son, Xongela (see chap. 1).  Back.

Note 2: Ndota: from ndoda, a Zulu word that means a middle-aged man and that used to refer to men who served as assistants of the chief.  Back.

Note 3: Kutlhavela tinhlanga: see chap. 5.  Back.

Note 4: Here Albertina used the verb kuphakela, from kuphaka, a Zulu verb meaning to serve (as in serving food) to describe how Chopi soldiers distributed her grandmother and other female captives among the men.  Back.

Note 5: Xikanikiso: Shangaan speakers use this word is used to describe any site or structure associated with government administration. No Portuguese officials were stationed in the Magude area until 1891. Walter Rodney notes that Chopi soldiers, emboldened by their alliance with the Portuguese at the time the Portuguese were waging war on Ngungunyana, began to raid areas (specifically, those under Gaza control) and to capture women, just as Ngungunyana's armies had done when fighting the Portuguese. The story of Fahlaza's capture, then, probably took place circa 1895. See Walter Rodney, "The Year 1895 in Southern Mozambique: African Resistance to the Imposition of European Colonial Rule," Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria 5, no. 4 (1971): 525.  Back.

Note 6: Xigugu: a thick paste of roasted corn and peanuts stamped together and mixed with honey or sugar.  Back.

Note 7: Xiginya: a thick mixture of boiled, mashed manioc and ground peanuts.  Back.


Binding Memories: Women as Makers and Tellers of History in Magude, Mozambique