Intro to Africa
Essay Assignment #5
A woman who visited us back in the late nineties named Lisa Cligget came to live with us for a few years. She ended up writing a book about my people and in the book she wrote, “no one here has enough, everyone has something, some have more than others, the rest are struggling for more . . . and everyone schemes to the best of their ability.” What Ms. Cligget wrote could not be truer about Gwembe Valley.
Let me tell you my story about my life in Gwembe Valley as a seventy two year old. My name is Masamba and I have lived in Gwembe Valley since the 1950’s when we were relocated as a result of the creation of the Kariba Dam. I have two sons and am recently widowed as of two months ago. Here, in Gwembe Valley, the climates are unpredictable, (droughts have become more and more common), and the local economy makes it hard to ‘bring home the bacon’ as I have heard visiting Americans say. As a result of being caught in a cycle of my people and I are vulnerable and so I, along with the rest of the men and women of my community, have had to develop various techniques in order to piece together a livelihood for myself. Since my children were young I have seen them as support for when I am of this older age and have used various approaches that have influenced aid from them. In fact, to receive eldercare, one must be very strategic in order to as some might say, ‘manipulate’ family members to taking care of them.
It is very important here in Gwembe Valley for people to build social and kin networks in order to gain access to food along with other resources during times of need from the networks. However, it is especially important for the elderly who can no longer farm, trade, or be employed, to rely on their social and kin networks to secure their survival.
For generations upon generations there have been gendered differences when it comes to obtaining productive and material resources as well as the labor of other people. This has created a "gendered vulnerability in old age" (63). Different genders use different techniques; elderly women for example utilize support through their role as mothers. In Gwembe Valley we often use the proverb, “Mayo mpapa, naine nkakaupapa” when translates to (Mother carry me, and I will carry you). In other…