Meet Keiteilemang, a 23year-old mosarwa mother of one from Molapo settlement in the heart of Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR). She is currently building her first own hut.
Keiteilemang with her baby
Keiteilemang’s mother and little sister
Keiteilemang’s little sister piggybacking Keiteilemang’s baby
Keiteilemang arriving at her new hut
Keiteilemang’s mother thatching her daughter’s hut
When she heard that there are visitors in the settlement she abandoned her grass harvesting for her hut and ran towards us. She was, like the rest of her community, expecting gifts. The rare visitors that make it to this remote settlement normally bring gifts. We had brought tobacco for the elders and sweets for the children. Keiteilemang wanted some tobacco too. I suggested she was too young to use tobacco but she just smiled and extended her both hands to receive some tobacco. I could not refuse. I just gave her the tobacco hoping she would pass it to her elders.
After the talk with the elders I followed her together with her mother and little sister who was piggybacking her little niece (Keiteilemang’s daughter).
It was extremely hot and Keiteilemang’s little sister was being burnt by the hot soil because she walked barefooted on the scorching sun. They picked the bundles of grass where they dropped them and headed home. The little sister tiptoed behind them.
Keiteilemang’s hut is about to get finished. Her mother is helping her with the thatching. The house is made entirely of grass and wood. When it is done she will move away from her mother’s hut. She has been sleeping with her parents and little sisters all in a single big hut.
Later in the afternoon, just before the sunset, I came back to find Keiteilemang’s mother on top of the hut, thatching. Keiteilemang was assisting her.
I then started thinking of the few 23-year olds females I know. That in a different time; she could be on her first job, or just started her second degree, maybe newly married with her colourful pictures of the wedding on Facebook, her friends liking and commenting, ‘so adorable’, or she could be Tweeting about bae, hashtag-things, worrying about the phone’s low-battery, her depleting bundles, and why bae sends “K” instead of something sweet and long. She could be taking selfies pouting with her daughter, or she could not be having a daughter.
But she is here, this is her life, where she goes through her monthly periods without sanitary pads and she queues for tobacco from strangers.
She told me that she dreams to leave this place and find work somewhere. I wished her well. But I could not advise her on anything. I tried to place myself on her shoes, and think about me. I wanted to be her, and think about me.