Tuesday, June 2, 2009

#14: Rethinking attitudes on 'Maids' & 'Houseboys'

The term "Domestic Worker" is perhaps more appropriate as the term 'maid' or 'house boy' is used rather indiscriminately; some of the so-called maids and house boys are actually in their 60's. I have to thank my learned friend for pointing out that in a former entry I made sweeping statements against the employment of domestic workers. She raised a good point, I now write after some more reflection.

I had proposed in the entry in question that it isn't crucial to hire someone when you can do the job yourself. The premise of my argument was that I see in many a NWs the tendency to abuse the trend so common due to cheap labour; the wanton hiring of domestic workers. I was so pertubed by the trend that I felt is should be dealt away with altogether. But then yes, with that argument, the question arises, 'Where else will that many people with that gainful employment: domestic as it may be,earn their bread and butter?

Domestics do all the work and get the least of benefits. On top of it all, they are the chief subject of 'kuphwesera'. Zika kubvutani kuntchito or in your relationships, you come home and 'lalatila' your domestic and still trust her to not poison your food, why would s/he? You have stripped him/her of all dignity to the point that s/he doesn't care how often you yell or threaten her. My learned friend had more points to raise, the issues of and actual institutionalised implementation of human rights, compesation, and domestic work policies in this sector is imperative if we are going to see change.

Someone would cringe at such a change of affairs! Noone to look down upon? Noone to boss around? No one to change your baby's nappies? It's like a caste system this.
#1.Nyasa Person, then #2. Nyasa Domestic. Such division is very unfortunate. A wise person once said,
"In the search for freedom, we are not free until we are all free."

The colonisers left, but there are still some who are colonised amongst us, no wonder when the Missionaries and expatriates come, they learn very quickly to treat the domestics badly because our standards are so low that THEIR abuse seems like liberty when it actually isn't.

The best example I have ever encountered is of a Nyasa family living in the diaspora. They have trained their children, now grown, to view domestics working for their family as Aunts/Uncles. Their respect, love, admiration, interaction... if you didn't know any different you would think these women/men were real kin.

What if we all did one step further and treated these hard working people as employees, not subjects. With all the pros and cons of a work environment, the policies, the benefits, the warnings, the raises, the over-time, the over-time pay, the vacation time, the consideration of insurance. Eh, "ndiye atithawatu" KUMENE!!! Mentality yoti anthu azi khalilira pansi so that ife tiziwoneka apamwamba ndiye kupondelezana ko. This is a new season, zimene zija zinapita. Now is the time to dream in colour, both for the "Nyasa" and the "Nyasa Domestic" so that we are finally one Nyasa, that includes you too Bwana Patel, ndikukuwonani!!!

Here are some of the most common abuses:

a) When the domestic worker boards with the employer/s: s/he rises earliest to begin work, works all day and goes to bed last/most fatigued, Calculate hour/day; is that even legal?

b) S/he is made to feel guilty about eating your food, then why don't you include meal allowances in the salary you pay him/her?

c) S/he can't sit and watch TV or sit at all, the argument is that if s/he's sitting down then there is some work that s/he isn't doing, hah! so says you who has a desk and CHAIR at your office, how long do YOU stand hmmmmm?????

d) Nail and cuticle damage over time due to harsh detergents. I personally know a lady whose nails are black and an inch thick as a result of this!!

e) Health and respiratory complications due to extensive exposure to heat, fumes and smoke from cooking equipment

f) Depression due to verbal abuse, harrassment, lack of rest, exercise and recreation

g) Inferiority complex issues due to denial of respect and worth

px: 'a tribute to the domestic worker: www.artspace-durban.com; 'cook': mkgandhi.org

Saturday, April 25, 2009

#13: Zambian Music

In Nyasaland, feeling special as a Nyasa woman is not so easy to come by. There are so many issues, so it seems, to be dealt with that composing a song just for the fairer kind in Nyasaland has been neglected. We can note that songs are now coming up, I'd venture to say,though, that the Zambians beat Nyasa male groups to it. Since we speak the same language with parts of Zambia, musicians from those parts have become a dear favourite to Nyasa women, with songs like 'Potential' by General Ozzy, 'Mechanic wako' by The Third and K'Millian's endless hits. Ah, Nyasa women, could I note that the Zambian accent has just the right touch of exoticness....heh heh

Simu ona Ve ni ona kali na potential X chorus...lol

eh eh
nakaka ona mutima uma jumpa
olo naka peza sisi sikanamange
kali pa ize kapyanga kunyumba
umushe wazo-ona subisika
muchitenge nangu mu chitambala
awe subisika
Bambili bamakapita sibamakaona awe
ndaba nda lama pa libe
bet u can sing da chorus NOW

(if u need a translation, hola)

pic: the Third, www.zamtunes.com

Friday, January 23, 2009

#11: Vegetables (YURGGHH!) Ndiwo za Masamba

And this is true, no matter how awful some of them may be, a true Nyasa woman will not pass up the chance to serve vegetables. In Nyasaland, serve-able vegetables are usually green and should best be left somewhere in some garden photosynthesizing for some poor plant. Examples are Nkhwani (pumpkin leaves)-these ones are tasty I'll admit, especially with groundnut flour- other examples are khwanya (potato leaves), chigwada (cassava leaves) and then there are your usual veggies like Chinese cabbage, regular cabbage, lettuce, spinach, Kale? etc.

One thing not to fail miserably at is identifying the vegetables by name. There is an unwritten law that you have to know especially the green veggies by name (which is hard since there are so many varieties). Otherwise one will pose this question to you, "koma inu nanunso, simungawone kuti uyu ndi chomoliya?" Ndikanadziwa bwanji, mukuanangonditima mabilinganya!"

Thursday, December 4, 2008

#10: Inside Information

I'm guilty of this one too. We all know that women generally are more relational than men (correct me if I'm wrong). We like to talk to each other, visit, do random things together. You know, quality time.

In Nyasaland though, my friend Grenna observes that the relational environment holds women together and stops them from slipping through the cracks of depression, alcoholism, and drug abuse. What with the plethora of activities that serve as an excuse for NW's to vacate their daily issues and throw all caution to the wind: weddings, engagement parties, kitchen top-ups, funerals, church activities, etc. It's a great thing.

Now this great thing leads me to the topic of Inside Information. My friend Muluka chastised me for putting a particular personal issue on Facebook, she yelled, "I demand the best-friend edition, not the edition written for everyone else." That cemented my observation, there are stories for public consumption, then those stories are brushed up for inner-circle consumption, and then for the best friends, Inside Information- the most detailed, delicious, juicy tid-bits. Ahh, for inside info. NW style! what I wouldn't give. then again, maybe spare me some info.'s !!!


Sunday, November 2, 2008

#9: Kitchen Top-Ups and Get-togethers

From weddings to Kitchen Parties to Kitchen Top-ups and Bridal Showers, NW's like every excuse to go out there and get-together. Of all the above-mentioned above, one having been banned by the Church (Kitchen Parties)for lewdness, the most interesting for me is the Top-up.

At first they were called Kitchen Top-ups. That's when you see your kitchen appliances falling apart and you invite your friends to bring you replacements, at their own expense. you wine and dine and then you receive brand-new replacements. Smart or what. You go NW's for shrewdness!

pic from online

Friday, October 31, 2008

#8: Weird T-Shirts from BDB's

Now, I like Kaunjika, don't get me wrong. I've picked some of my best clothes from sundry Bend-Down Boutiques or as Chuckie would call them, "Sunshine Boutiques". Now the problem comes in when NW's go picking clothes. Clothes are never categorized (you have to know exactly what you are looking for)they are just put in piles. Say, for jeans, you'll find a huge pile. T-Shirts, dresses, skirts, etc. piles, piles, piles and you have to sort through them for the most appealing. I once saw an NW confidently strutting in silk pj's but that's a story for another day, we're talking about BDB Tees today. Specifically the Tees NW's buy from BDB's.

Yesterday, on my way somewhere I saw a sensible looking lady wearing a lovely tee but with a peculiar message on it. The first word started with S and ended with X. it was a three letter word. and the rest of the message read "& Music". Now, why must a sensible NW buy and walk around in such a Tee?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

#7. Having a Maid

NW's can do everything on their own but one day somebody came and whispered, "No you can't, girl, what's wrong with you, YOU NEED A MAID!!!" So that started it all, NW's decided life cannot be normal unless they hire a maid. Now(in fact this has happened since indipendence) you see dainty women in uniforms like the one posted here weaving in and out of the nice neighborhoods and plain-clothed ones dengu pamutu ulendo ku chigayo in the not so nice neighborhoods. Doing all the necessary things NW's should at least try to do for themselves like doing the laundry, walking kids to school, cooking, etc.

Why is it so, I don't really get it, maybe if you have like 7 kids and two jobs and a traveling hubby. I am of the opinion that it's alright to have someone who comes to do your domestic chores for you twice a week. That way you are keeping someone in employment, albeit a part-time employment, and at the same time you are taking responsibility for your and your family's lifestyle needs. I suppose some can't do without it, kaya zanu izo NW's!

Next up, the love for the "Sofia shoe"