Fatuma puts her family first. From sunrise to sunset, she does all the household chores and farms her husband’s three-hectare plot. Life on the land is not easy. Money is short. She is always wondering how to feed her family better and earn more money from the crops she sows. She has to balance the nutrition of her family against the cash she makes from sales of the farm produce. She must make sure there is enough food stored for leaner times.
Money is the problem for Fatuma and her husband Manyusi. As soon as it comes in, Manyusi wants the reward of relaxation. Fatuma wants to save for the future, spend wisely and keep enough food in storage for the family. He owns the land. She works it. That’s where the conflict comes between husband and wife.
Fatuma relies a lot on eldest Neema to do household work, care for younger siblings, work on the land, fetch and carry, and get crops to market. Because there is so much to do, Fatuma is hard on Neema. Typically Neema drops out of school to help her mother when there is weeding or reaping to be done. It hurts Neema because her daughter is so bright and she wants to go far with her education. Fatuma wishes that Neema could have an easier life than she has had, but she fears that, in the end, Neema’s life will be no different from her own!
As Fatuma said:
“This year I reaped one of the best crops of maize we ever had. I was so proud. Only to find when we bagged it, that my husband had pre-sold all of it. The whole crop! I felt so angry and bitter. It is wrong! Our family needs to eat, but now the granaries are empty.”