During a march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria in 1956, the women sang a freedom song: "Wathint’ abafazi, Strijdom! wathint’ abafazi,wathint’ imbokodo,uza kufa!"
Translated into English this means: "(When) you strike the women, you strike a rock, you will be crushed (you will die)!"
The phrase has come to represent women’s courage and strength in Southern Africa.
This was very evident in the women we have met on our journeys. Often they are left in the rural areas to fend for their family as the father has to work out of town. There is a community but things are harder if you have to do all the things your man would normally help with.
These are not the same “to do” lists that we have; yes, we all have shopping to do but in these rural areas shopping takes a whole day of struggle: wake when the sun still isn’t up, walk to where you get the “taxi” (a very worn out pick-up with two benches in the back), pray that there is a spot to squeeeeze into and find a way to balance through the dirt road with pot holes, cows and children all trying to get somewhere; when you reach the tar road you change and wait for the next ride to town. If it’s not pension day you have scored Big… Then there are the shops… YHo! dont think you gonna go in for a quick something, not gonna happen. Hmmmm… the only thing i can compare it to is Tube strike day in London….. organized chaos.
Mission accomplished, you have your few weeks’ supply of staples for you and your family and aunty and granny who are too old to get their own. Now you got to get it home…same way you came. Don’t forget the children want dinner when you get in!
Some of the women will plant a small plot of veg and maize to add to the small purchases. Many in ‘The Rurals’ have electricity now and running water but we have been in these areas when they are cut off for weeks at a time. Yes, rain water has been collected during rainy season, but this doesn’t always cover and she has to collect water for bathing and cooking. When things are very hard there are women and children washing clothes by the river. Within these tough times these women hold their own, they have dignity, resilience and pride. It is in this context that we see the true beauty of the African Woman.
There are many historical pictures of Xhosa women with long pipes which has been thought to be for ganja, but generally you will find that woman in the older generation do not smoke Ganja; they may take it as a tea, but in the pipes was a tobacco of sorts.
But theses entrepreneurial rural women know a good opportunity when they see one. Now, they have put their hands to the ganja growing with some good results.
It is usually the young men that are getting ‘pro’ with their fields but the women are not so far behind. Woman are usually trimming the plants, which to some may be seen as an unskilled job till she offers you a lovely sticky piece of sweet sativa Charas that has been collected every night with a warm knife. It is a good bonus to a back breaking and finger-aching job.
So, with all this in mind, do a just deal and don’t expect that you are going to get a bargain because you have a woman farmer. And above all make sure she gets her worth. She will always hold a tough deal but if you make her happy you may get a smile!
How Many Years Have You Been Growing?
5 years now.
What Strains Do You Have This Year?
Local and last year I was blessed with some seeds from overseas.
Do You Pull Out Your Males?
Yes, I was shown this by a visitor few years back.
Are You Growing Landrace?
What is this?
Do You Grow Local Ganja or Imported Seeds?
Ah yes, that’s our one – the elders don’t want to grow the new seeds.
Do You Use Pescticides?
If I have bad bugs I do…first I try garlic, but this must be before flowers come.
Do You Use Ganja For Medicine?
My Father used to smoke it but my Ma makes a tea for sleep and fever.
When and Why Did You Start Growing Ganja?
Things not easy here and I have land, so my brother showed me.
Has it Improved Your Life?
It makes it easier but it should not be illegal – it is only a plant. Alcohol causes a lot more problems in our community.
What Problems has Alcohol Caused?
Yho…too many husbands get too drunk and spend all the money in the sheebeen (local bar). My neighbor’s husband sold her ganja then spent money on beer, it was meant for the school uniform. He was in trouble as woman don’t like that, not if she grow it. She is the rock, you know this?
My husband doesn’t drink, he works in the city to bring money home for the family and helps in the field when he is home.
What Else Grows in your Garden?
I have maize, butternut, cabbage, beans, banana, pawpaw and spinach.
What do you do with your Trim?
My goats like big leaves, but I do make tea.