In our last issue we pointed out that indoda iyathatha,umfazi uyenda. Hence we get the expressions: Umuntu lo yindoda ethetheyo; mntanomuntu tshiyana layo. Also, Hatshi wena, ngumfazi owendileyo lowo, ungamficeli ilihlo.

This ukuthatha involves certain responsibilities on the part of the man for the woman that you are “taking”. You bring her into a new environment and a situation that is totally different from her previous home.

Her induction into the new home is traditionally done by the womenfolk of the home, but as time goes on she will be subjected to petty jealousies because the family does not get as much attention of you (the husband) as before the new wife (umakoti) came into the scene.

The goodies that mamazala and other family members used to receive now go to this new arrival. So she is regarded as an intruder.

The problem becomes worse if the husband’s sisters are present, especially kungaba labomabuyekwendeni, those whose own marriages failed. They gang with their mother and in a subtile way criticise her actions and her character and make her life very uncomfortable.

Balutshwana omalokazana abakukholisayo kwabozala. It is said that a good malokozana is one who has a big heart that can absorb all the machinations of her in-laws. It is the duty of a good husband to protect his wife from the family onslaughts.

He is walking on a thin rope. He must preserve good relations with his family on the one hand and on the other maintain his integrity with wife. A good husband will know when to put his foot down and say, Mama hatshi, lingadubi umntanabantu or MaNdlovu, funda ukuhlalisana kuhle lomama.

The problem with young wives today is that they have adopted a confrontational attitude. Bathi bona “Kangikwenziwa mina lokho; lami ngatshiya kithi kwakhiwe. Kangisoze ngibe ngigqabhazelwa yisalukazi esingangizaliyo.”

Really? Kanti angithi uthethwe, wendile? Pho-ke? This view however, does not condone any form of abuse of women but it argues that the Ndebele traditional system is very conducive to creating good relations between husband and wife and his relatives.

The newly-wed wife (umakoti) becomes the new mother while the old mother retires (theoretically) to the background. Umakoti is inducted into her duties in the home by her husband’s sisters (if any) or aunts.

Mother-in-law will do it if none of those are available .Generally this induction consists of showing her pots and pens, and plates and other cutlery and where and how they are stored away. She is shown the fire place and where firewood is kept.

In urban areas she is shown the stove and other cooking gargets like ukhezo, uphini, uphelo, konke nje. She is shown places to sweep and clean ,including the yard outside the huts (or houses).Of course, she is not shown everything at one time. She will be introduced to the other processes as time goes.

If makoti is a good woman she will start being busy right away. She will most likely start by sweeping and cleaning. Uthanyela phandle iguma aphinde angene endlini.

At this point she is being assisted, but this assistance will diminish as time goes on. All the while she is keeping time because usemele ayebasa umlilo kumbe aqale ahambe ayekukha amanzi with someone.

Trouble may start here now or later.

Everything she does is being watched closely:

SIZIWE : He-e-e, mama: Asazi (clapping her hands).

MAMA: Awazi ukuthini? Usuboneni?

SIZIWE: Angitsho lutho mina. Ngithi nje uMhlupeki usilethele iKhiwa.

MAMA: Hatshi ,suka, ungachothoza umalokozana wami.

SIZIWE: Kangimchothozi mama. Kambe umfazi ongaka ubesesadalaliswa yinkonxa esehluleka ukuyithwala ngaze ngamethesa mina. Ngivele ngabona khona ethanyela, ukubamba kwakhe umthanyelo, izandla ziyatebha.

MAMA: Asazi, ungabathini abantu abajayele ukubamba ipenseli? Uzajayela. Mina ngihlutshwa yikhungathi umuntu wakhona uthanda ukuchila amakhala kungathi uyenyanya. Engxenye wenyanya thina, asazi.

This way her trials and temptations have started .She will be the subject of gossip all along. Yikho ekwendeni lapha ,kawulandanga ukuzaphululwa.

As the new mother of the family her duties are endless. If she is married to a good family she will be assisted in all tasks by other members of the family but mother-in-law will always play a low profile.

Umamazala usehlala nje anabe athi thwitshi abone ngomganu usuthiwa qithi phambi kwakhe.

In the rural areas she will be responsible for all the cooking – abase umlilo, abeke izimbiza eziko, apheke, aphakulule abantu badle abesegezisa imiganu lezimbiza ahlanze lendawo lapho abekade esebenzela khona.

She is being watched and talked about. Obviously this is an exaggerated version of what actually happens; otherwise ukwenda would be hell to be avoided.

Some homes organise what they call a washing day. All members of the family will bring out all their dirty clothing — clothes, bed linen (even blankets from time to time) for makoti to do all the washing.

This is full laundering which also includes ironing.

Why should makoti not have the strength to do only this? Nothing has been said about ukutheza inkuni, ukukha amanzi, ukuya emasimini, ukuthini lokuthini.

All these are unavoidable duties that make up a home. She would have to do them anywhere even if she started out in her home with her husband.

In the meantime the new husband has assumed greater responsibility than before. His main responsibility is to ensure that the family is adequately provided.

Nowadays he would be expected to take up employment somewhere in order to earn for his wife and children and to share some of the income with other members of the family.

If he is not formally employed the man will be busy tending the livestock, putting up fences around the fields, fixing and repairing broken equipment in the home, hunting (not nowadays) and performing other male duties.

And so life goes on. Next, what is the responsibility of the family towards umakoti and how do they relate to each other?

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading