Adongo is a poor rural woman who lives in Alebtong District. Early every morning, she wakes up at 5:00 a.m. with her children to dig in their family garden rich with beans, cassava, abuga, and boyo. She does so in order to provide food for her family. Her dominant husband always comes around to supervise and to make sure she digs enough for the day, saying to her: “Haraka my darling.”

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She leaves their family garden at 8:00 a.m. and with a pot on her head, rushes off to Mr. Odongo’s farm to dig for food while her children collect wild mangoes and oranges to eat on their way. She collects firewood from the commons and branches to Ajuri River to fetch water; and finally reaches home at 11:30 a.m. and cooking commences.

At the end of the day when she has harvested food from the garden, she sells cassava and beans at the nearest market. While she is a way from home, her husband sometimes sells off stored food. But for fear of being accused, he leaves the money that he gets at his drinking point. Whenever this happened and as soon as she realized, it always caused misunderstanding between them.

With hope for help from the local area council I (village council), Adongo once reported the incident of her husband selling off stored food, only to be asked to apologise to her husband. The council reasoned that her husband is the head of the family as Jesus is the head of the church and the land on which the food was cultivated is owned by him. The council emphasised that their reasoning is contextualised in the Bible:

“For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.”

Bible Verse: Ephesians 5:23

By Gumkit Ann Parlaker, Innovator in First Cohort of CPAR Uganda programme: “Mentoring Young Adults into Innovators against Poverty”; and Volunteer Fundraiser with CPAR Uganda. Ann generated this story from the content of and discussions during the training sessions of Module I: Understanding Poverty in Rural Uganda of the CPAR Uganda programme. She essentially dramatized her learning and utilised her great skill of storytelling to demonstrate her understanding of the complex issues that were discussed during the training sessions. Read more about Ann here.

5 thoughts on “The Woman in Me

  1. In this story, I was able to notice that the woman is the provider ( a Bread winner) of the family……. Back in my own village in kwania district I have always observed women spend more time in the garden than men and a man will always reach home before the wife and still wait for this woman to fetch for him water for Bathing etc. This is really being unfair to your wife.!!!!

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    1. Is it really true that a man is the bread winner of the family?? In reference to this Story.

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  2. In this story the challenge I see here is brought by the community where they assume that since a man is the head of the family,he’s not questionable even after doing something immoral,that is why you see the LC 1 court taking advantage of the bible quote that man is head of the family just like Jesus is head of the church yet the same Bible condemns aman from from committing sin for example theft by Adongs husband,I call it theft cos he sold the food items without his wife’s consent,In that LC1 court you will find that even fellow women were present when the court was passing out this judgement and they either kept quiet or even supported the court, what beats my understanding here is why sometimes women help men in implementing assumptions such that aman as head of the family is not questionable in his deeds

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  3. This sort of story has always intrigued me. I was brought up by my mother, who was most of the time away working at her corporate job. So my image is that Mum goods off to work. In the case of this story, however, it is dad who goes away, and mum stays at home. So we are able to observe her digging, harvesting, etc. Because we don’t see Dad and where he goes, the assumption is that he leaves it all to Mum. Is there room to appreciate what these rural men do when they leave home? Would life be any better if these rural fathers never left at all? How do they manage to build their homes if when they leave home, they just go to drink? Is there opportunity to consider that going to the local drinking place could actually be a benefit to the home – counselling; work opportunities; abreast with local developments and best able to negotiate the best for family, etc. Why have such stories endured? Maybe that is just how it is best… what is the percentage of such scenarios? Who pushes for this? Is there space for consideration that Mum, in this case, may be marking her territory? If everyone has seen her till that plot, it is easier to argue that it is hers… May be it is empowering after all and it’s the academics that are happy to romatisize it as a challenge. What is the equivalent of this in the corporate world?

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