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Schooling Story: Author | Albertina | Rosalina | Valentina

Lives of Girls (Valentina Chauke)
Schooling Story


27 June 1995, Facazisse

H: Did you go to school when you were a girl?
V: Yah! We go to play. We didn't go with our whole hearts. When you want, you leave it—when you didn't want to, you didn't go to school. You sit in the path, you play. [V demonstrates game played in sand with pits of nkanyi fruit, like jacks]. . . . We go and we sit, there in the path, like we're sitting now. You're here, I'm here. We're all sitting [V tosses imaginary stone in the air with one hand, while other hand scoops stones from ground]. You go, "eee." It's called ngqako. 1 . . . [V explains how game is played] And yet, although I never studied [in school], my heart studied. My heart, it studies! . . . We were taught respect, there with our mothers.

4 October 1995, Facazisse

V: Eeh! We were taught that, this man, when he wants you, you go by the nawu [law]. Maybe he comes to you, maybe he speaks with your parents. When your father wants that, "We'll take this one," we'll talk [and I'll say], "When you say so, I'm coming." Me, I was brought up well. We didn't know that, when you speak with a young man, you speak with him, you grab each other, you go "eee" [V pulls on A's arm, mockingly], you say "We're in love, we're in love." "You're in love"—what is that? Kokwana N'waXavela, she didn't allow that, hee! She didn't allow that. Even this man, the one I married, they didn't want it, they say, "We don't want you to go marry in the desert! Because, there's no water! Well, since you live by bathing 2—where will you find water?"
H: But you married him anyway?
V: Mmm. . . . When you look after yourself, when you're looked after, you didn't know—you didn't say that, "Me, I look after myself."
A: Vovo?
V: You didn't say that, "I look after myself." When they could come to thank your mother, for bringing you up by the law, what do they say? They say, "You brought her up by the law, she didn't run around foolishly with men!" They thank her, they give her an mpondo [100 escudos]. He thanks her because she brought you up well. Mmm. . . . Me, I was instructed in proper behavior. [My grandmother] told me, "You must not go around with men, they won't give lovolo for you." For us, hahane, we said it for the sister of your husband! Hahane, it's the sister of your husband, that's how we spoke of her. We spoke this way. 3 We helped her. Maybe a headscarf, or whatever, you give it to her. You're happy because she's the sister of your husband. . . .

When you begin to see your tin'hweti [period—literally, moons], we sit inside the hut. The day I see it [for the first time], it's me who goes and tells kokwana. Mmm. I say, "There's something, I'm seeing something that's coming out." She'll take you, she takes me inside. You sit there. We sit, we wait for it to be finished. They cook food, they'll give it to you here inside, until it's finished. When it's finished, when your month is done, you have to wake up at the crack of dawn! The time they get up to go to their fields, when the chickens are squawking. You wake up early! You go to bathe. And you take a piece of burning wood from the fire. You go with it, to the river. Well, you get there, you go "duu!," you put it in the water. . . . [V makes "rra-rra-rra" sound, demonstrates washing herself with water mixed with soot] You get out. You run, you go home. You leave, running! You don't look behind you. You don't talk to anyone, you go straight home! Well, you've come out, indeed, you've come out from your work. . . . Kokwana tells me, it's this way because me, I'm growing. It's this way. Mmm. She tells me, "You must not! Not one day you do these things!"

A: You must not do what?
V: You [must not] go and do those things, a boy, when he wants to court 4 you, you say, "He-he-he! He-he-he!" [i.e., laugh in a disrespectful way]

30 December 1995, Facazisse

V: I stay at the home of my sister. 5 She was married by Jakovo Chauke. There, the church there. There was this tree, there at the church of Makuvulane. A nhlaru tree. It's the church of Makuvulane, "Nhlarweni." It's there that we grew up. We say,

Khale ahinga ni nayo, Long ago we didn't have it [i.e. church],
Ahikhongela [tindlwini te ro]. We prayed inside the huts [?].
Ahiwela Nkomati! We crossed the Nkomati!
Hiya petcheya, We're going across the river,
A Khocene! To Khocene!
Antioka! Antioka!
Mati, matele ngopfu, hingarivali! The water is really overflowing, we won't forget!
Loko mati matele ngopfu, hingarivali! When the water is really overflowing, we won't forget!

Isn't it this way? When the water is really overflowing, we won't forget. We crossed the [Nkomati] river, we come here [to Facazisse]. We go to church. Even if the water floods, we can't forget! We cross the Nkomati. Jakovo was a muvangeli [evangelist].

H: What about Matoyi, and N'waXavela?
V: Yah! They were heathens, through and through.
H: So did you go to church because of Jakovo?
V: Weren't we staying with him? I stayed there, at his place. Won't you go to church, when you have the same xivongo [clan name], of the church?
H: How did N'waXavela feel about this?
V: She's happy! She's really happy, when I'm seen there at church. She's happy. It made her happy because, "Our children, they're going to work in the school. They pray." Mmm. But she didn't mislead us, saying "Why are you praying?" Mm-mm. She didn't mislead us. When you didn't go, you don't go to school, she'll ask you, she says, "Ah! Today, you're not at the church, why?" She didn't go, because their work, they went around using the divining bones, outside. 6 She goes [to church] when she sees that today at the church, there are festivities. . . . This one, is Jakovo. This one, is Daniel [Khosa]. This one, is N'watoya, Ngomane. This Daniel, he's the teacher, at Makuvulane. This one, Jakovo, he's the muvangeli. The missionary, it's muneri Payi, 7 and the Misse, 8 heh! We call her Misse Xipikiri [nail]! She's named for her work, when she does this work, she's always going around stabbing you with needles. She was killed in Catembe. They say, "Long ago, for a long time, we've been studying! You slander us, what will you teach us? Well, we studied [since] long ago. Well, you, what will you tell us?" They go after her with axes, they cut her. . . . "
H: Wow. Were there ever problems like that here, at Antioka?]
V: [shakes her head] We had love, our church, we had love for everyone. The people here, they go with love only, all of them! Those of the church, they were brothers and sisters. [V sings song again]. . . . Mmm. We cross to the other side of the river. We go to see our relatives. We cross the Nkomati. [Even] when the water is really overflowing, we won't forget! But when we sing this way, the water dries up! Maybe you [pray in a different place], it doesn't matter. Relatives, church. The church is [your] xaka [relative]! The church. You belonged to the church, the church is kin. Really, kin. Mmm. Even when the Nkomati overflows, we couldn't forget! They're our relatives. . . .

We study in church. We learned the stories of hosi [lord] 9 Jesus. Jesus, truly, when he comes, he'll come, to help on earth. To teach. "The father of Jesus, do you know him, who is he?" "He's Jehova." He'll come to look after us. To sweep away our sins. I heard! Because I was there. When he comes, when he puts you to the test, [it is] to help us. Even now, I like to hear these things. It's only because of illness, that I don't go to church. . . . We learned, "Don't cry, he'll deliver us, when he comes to the earth." Lord Jesus. When he was very small, he goes around, he leaves [his parents], at Joseph's home. His father, Joseph. He goes, he goes, he goes around teaching. They say, to that Joseph, "Wake up, take the infant and his mother. Flee to the land of Egypt. Wake up and take him, because a war is coming, the war of Herod. Herod, when Jesus was an infant. Well, the angel, the angel, he wakes up Joseph. "Joseph, Joseph, wake up! Take the infant and his mother, flee to the land of Egypt!" . . .

H: What other things did you learn?
V: Ah, the laws there, for the girls, were to forbid taking a boy as a lover. 10 Heh! The girl, she must not [do this]! These things weren't allowed. [We learn] that, this man who wants you, he must go to the teacher! Your teacher, the one who teaches you. He goes to court the teacher. He says, "I've come, I've come here to you, because I want that little girl of yours." [The teacher] says, "Show me." He says, "I want that one." Well, he'll come and talk with you. This one who is accepted by the teacher. [The teacher] courts you for the man. Isn't it this way?

Schooling Story: Author | Albertina | Rosalina | Valentina


Note 1: Also mathakisana. See Henri A. Junod, The Life of a South African Tribe (London: Macmillan, 1927) 1:175.  Back.

Note 2: N'waXavela may have been teasing Valentina about new habits of personal hygiene learned from Swiss missionaries, since N'waXavela herself resisted Christian conversion and all xilungu ways.  Back.

Note 3: Valentina is contrasting the much stricter meaning of hahane in the past with its more flexible, inclusive meaning today, when it is typically interchanged with titia (from tia), an adapted Portuguese word for aunt and used not only for paternal and maternal aunts (and husband's sisters) but for any woman to whom the speaker wishes to show respect.  Back.

Note 4: Kugangisa: a verb indicating a boy's effort to persuade a girl to accept him as her lover. See also note 10 below.  Back.

Note 5: Lídia Malati, daughter of Matoyi Malati, son of a sister of Valentina's father.  Back.

Note 6: I.e., N'waXavela and Matoyi were tin'anga.  Back.

Note 7: Muneri: a missionary. Payi is Frank Paillard, a missionary who spent several years at Antioka in the 1910s.  Back.

Note 8: Misse (from Miss): the term of address for female mission personnel, who at Antioka were usually in charge of the infirmary, social-work activities, and education.  Back.

Note 9: Hosi: more commonly, chief; but also king, monarch, master, lord.  Back.

Note 10: Kuganga: A verb indicating a girl's choice or acceptance of a boy as her lover. See also note 4 above.  Back.


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