Grandmother and the Ostrich

Once upon a time there was a grandmother who took care of her grandsons while their mother was looking for work in Johannesburg. It was a time of hunger in Venda nwaha wa ndala. Grandmother did her best to find food for her grandsons but every evening they had to go to bed without supper.

One morning grandmother decided to go and look for wild spinach in the far away mountains. She called the boys and told them, “Don’t leave the yard, play nearby and take good care of yourselves. Before dark I’ll be back.

Grandmother took a bag and spent the whole hot day looking for something to eat. At the heat of the day she found a shady spot to rest. After a while Grandmother saw something moving, it was an ostrich. The ostrich looked carefully around her and then crawled under a bush. Grandmother waited and waited. At last the ostrich appeared and moved away. Cautiously Grandmother crept towards the bush and there she saw a nest with ostrich eggs. Quickly she grabbed one, slipped it into her bag and rushed home as fast as she could.

That night they all had a feast of scrambled ostrich egg and wild spinach.

Copyright: Dr Ina le Roux

Interpretation

While grandfathers are figures of authority grandmothers  provide food. The interpretation also suggests the unreasonable expectation of men that women must provide food for their families regardless of poor horticultural and material conditions. Furthermore, mothers who have been left by husbands sometimes find work in the towns and leave the children with grandmothers. So often the women bear the full burden of life.
Traditionally women and children are powerless, and they find relief from their frustrations in the sharing of their common problems in the telling of these stories.


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