1) I am sorry we couldn’t do that interview hey. I had to go and collect water for my mother.
So I wanted to speak briefly to a young guy here, who I will call L, for five minutes today. I wanted to ask him about his decision to be different to his peers and wait to have a wife before having children. He told me people in Ingwavuma in rural KZN say he lives like a “white man” because he doesn’t have multiple women and he won’t touch alcohol.
L who is Zulu has nine half-brothers, all from the same father but with different mothers. Each of his dad’s ten children including himself was a first born. L told me that he hardly knew his dad and would like to be a different kind of father one day. He says this is because he grew up having two white friends and saw how his friends’ family – a doctor and his wife and kids – lived.
He couldn’t make today’s interview and smsed me to say his mom needed water:
That was the first time water has been an excuse for missing an interview with me! There is no running water here, although Ingwavuma is 40 km from the enormous Jozini Dam.
2) “Just get a broom and sweep it into a box.”
I told the people that I am renting a granny flat from that there was a snake in my lounge.
So, Maryna says – 3) “Oh it’s small, just sweep up!”
I refused and L came to help me. He says in one breath:
4) “Oh it’s dangerous. It’s a puff adder. Come look.”
I was so stressed then and thought – I have to get back to the city, fast! I was ready to go home.
Later my cousin commented on the snake picture on Facebook. He said it was almost guaranteed to be a night adder which is actually harmless and added:
5) “The head is the wrong shape to be a Puffy”.
Now if I am not wrong “Puffy” is short for Puff adder – a nickname. Aren’t nicknames terms of endearment?
Cuz, I mean that in an affectionate way, since when did snakes – and dangerous ones at that – become worthy of nicknames?
A more serious comment
I explained to a 24-year-old Zulu lady, working in Ingwavuma, that I am writing a story about rural health that will shed light or perspective on national health issues. Without missing a beat she asked:
6) “Will your article cover teenage pregnancy?”
She went on to say how she had recently walked past two twelve year olds, or so she thought, that were both pregnant.
On that note I gave a lift to a teenage girl today in high school uniform as I drove home from the Spar shop. The gir looked about 16. She had a kid with her who looked like he was about 18 months old. It is so common to see teenagers with kids here that I wasn’t surprised – just more concerned about the candy the child was eating and how unhealthy it looked.
Pregnant high school girls are such a common sight in Ingwavuma:
•Some people here say teenage pregnancy is exacerbated by the child grants on offer @ R250 a month.
•Others say sex is an everyday part of life from young – poor people live in small huts without separate rooms and so children grow up seeing their parent/s with partners at night.
•The most common reason given is boredom. There is nothing to do here in Ingwavuma where the tar road ends- literally.
•Rape – I have been told by a nun, teachers, a doctor and community workers that rape against women by males in their extended family is a problem in Zululand. However, I always thought pregnancy caused by rape was very uncommon.
This scourge of pregnancy and possibly rape has huge implications for HIV prevention and how many orphans are left behind by mothers who die of Aids. The fact that birth control is not being widely used raises questions:
•Is the pill accessible to teenage girls in Ingwavuma?
•Are clinics private enough or do teenagers worry that the nurse will talk and their caregivers will hear that they are on the pill or even getting condoms or female condoms?
•Do teenagers know about the pill?
•How many orphans and vulnerable children are growing up in KZN and South Africa and what is going to happen when these children become teenagers?
•Is there a way teenagers can make R250 a month without needing to have a child?