Parenting is different all over the world, there are different cultural aspects and opinions, the surroundings effect how you parent, your family, your social status, your wealth, your intelligence, your ignorance but what I have found recently after having a baby myself is that for all the parents I have seen, fundamentally we are all on the same path and have the same struggles.
When I moved into the school-house in Mtende, she was my neighbour. A mum of 5 (now 6) I was told she could cook for me for a small fee. She seemed friendly and approachable. She spoke little English and I spoke no Swahili but we seemed to immediately understand each other.
I paid her 15,000TZS a week (£6) and she cooked me three hot meals a day. Her children would bring them into the school house at the same times every day. I felt immediately uncomfortable with the dynamic but when I saw what went into the preparation of cooking a hot meal I soon realised I was totally incapable of doing it myself.
I didn’t know at the time she was making little to no profit from this arrangement and looking back I regret not being as grateful as I should have been. She quickly became like a young mother figure, although her eldest child was my age she was only 38 when we met. The more I learnt the language the more amazed I was by this incredible woman. She had taught in the local nursery school for over 20 years most of which unpaid because she wanted the next generation to have a better life than the one she led. She cooked, cleaned and washed for 6 children + me. She was horrified at my hand-washing skills in a bucket with some powdered soap thrown in, they seemed to come out just as dirty from the red dust than when they went in. She taught me how to wash my clothes in a basin properly, and 7 years later the first thing she says to me when I walk in the house is, “I’ve been saving the girls’ washing for you.”
When I asked her if I could eat with them instead of having my meals brought to the house I realised that the quality of food they were eating was way below the standard of food she was bringing me and felt terrible for leaving most of it most mealtimes. I cherished those mealtimes sitting with the children eating from the kid’s massive plate of rice and sauce. We sat in a circle and washed our right hands in turn, the water black at the end of it from playing in the mud outside, chickens running everywhere sometimes over us and the food desperate for a few grains of rice and pure happiness on the children’s faces. You would be in a food coma afterwards and have to lie down but no food was ever left on the plate.
Zuhura taught me everything I know about cooking, grating a coconut on a Mbuzi, a small fold out seat with a blade on the end, various breads, sauces and ways to cook rice, on a budget with just plain water and salt, or for a treat Pilau with beef, onions, potatoes and spices. It didn’t take me long to want to move into the house instead of living alone in the school house 10 feet away. I spent all my time there and the girls kept asking me to sleep in their room with them so I moved all my stuff in! I shared a room with Maimuna and Munaiya and a few chickens roosting in a cardboard box . Every morning at 6am we would be woken by our mother hen screeching to go out.
They would go to school and I would go to work. We got into a routine and felt like a family unit. I wasn’t being paid to teach and a few years in I was broke! I hadn’t paid Zuhura for food for years and tried to earn my keep by washing, cooking and doing the best I could to help out around the house. Every time we spoke about it she would refuse any money from me and tell me I was part of the family. I try to pay her back now I am in a better financial position but it still makes her uncomfortable, I try and do it VIA her children so she can’t refuse it. I owe her so much. She showed me more kindness than I had ever expected.
She found out she was expecting a baby and when the beautiful little girl arrived I was asked to name her. She was about 2 hours old and i’d gone to see them in hospital. A few days later she reminded me that I was supposed to be naming this child and I replied, “I thought you were joking!” I felt more pressure naming her than I did naming my own child a few years later.
I named her “Israa”.
After bringing my own daughter into the world I now can see how much her attitude has actually effected my own parenting. She was so relaxed with her children, firm when she had to be but incredibly loving. She constantly goes without to be able to afford new outfits for the children for Eid every year. Unlike a lot of Zanzibaris she never questioned my parenting decisions when I took Mila to meet her for the first time and was so thrilled that I could experience motherhood.
I will be forever thankful for the education she so seflessly passed on to me, for that is priceless.
Via Wiping and Tings Blog!
From mwanaapolo’s, I just read this story from someone facebook s page and I decided to put in my my blog but I don’t know why!!😞😂😭