Many cultures have always thought of marriage as one of partnership but a tribe in Tanzania has taken it one step further.
In the village of Nyamongo of northern Tanzania, some women who reside in the Kurya tribe are redefining the roles of marriage. For married couple Mugosi Maningo & Anastasia Juma, their union is based solely on economics. When the two women met, Maningo’s husband had left her ten years prior because she couldn’t have children. Juma’s marital situation changed when she left her abusive husband after her firstborn, then was left to care for two other children after being left by two other men. Left on their own, these women decided to change their circumstances for their families.
Land ownership is traditionally held by men and most don’t question the validity of it, but in this situation, women are fighting against age-old traditions in order secure their families’ futures. Maningo and Juma are challenging these roles by practicing “nyumba ntobhu”, which means “woman marrying woman”.
Established years ago by Kurya elders, this was done in order to protect women from losing land ownership if their husband died or abandoned them. This practice is allowed by the Kurya tribe’s elders since it benefits the community, but more importantly, it validates the power of women in this village. While there is a Kuryan law which stipulates that only men can inherit land, women get around it by marrying a younger woman who has children or can have sex with a male partner to produce male heirs.
For Maningo, this arrangement has not only ensured her land ownership, but the freedom to choose a partner, and not necessarily a man. While same-sex marriages in the West include a sexual component, this is not seen as an important factor in the Kurya tribe. Maningo and Juma who are both heterosexual, see having male sex partners as a way of bearing children, and a choice they get to make not imposed on them. Having the right to decide whether to take on a male partner reduces the likelihood of abuse, child marriage and genital mutilation on women.
It should be noted that “nyumba ntobhu” marriages are only recognized in tribal law, not Tanzanian law. Not all Tanzanian women practice same-sex marriages, but the incentive of controlling property and having the choice to have a male partner or not, has made this practice an attractive, and often, a safer option. In addition, male partners who help women bear children must honor this tradition and give up their paternal rights.
As someone who was raised in a country where women continue to fight for equality, I can understand the attraction of this practice.
In Tanzania where patriarchy and gender inequality are dominating forces in their culture, same-sex marriages like Maningo and Juma’s are uncommon but necessary for communities to survive. While I know that marriages are not perfect, the concept of “nyumba ntobhu” works for the women of the Kurya tribe. Who knows, maybe one day, “nyumba ntobhu” will not just be a practice but a way of life for Tanzanian women.
Do you know of any similar types of arrangements in your country?
This is an original post written for World Moms Network by Tes Silverman.
To read the article regarding this post, click below:
Photo Attribution: Rasheedhrasheed
As part of World Moms Blog’s collaboration with BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood™, our World Moms are writing posts on maternal health around the world. In today’s post, Jennifer Burden writes about the importance of clean water on maternal health in the developing world. She is wearing blue today to advocate for World Water Day!
“Water is an integral part of birthing around the world, yet many mothers lack access to it. In fact, an organization that works globally to help people gain access to clean water, WaterAID, recently ran a campaign linking motherhood and water access by comparing the things women packed in their maternity bags in the areas they serve around the world.
The post went viral.
With over 2 million estimated headline views and almost 17,000 Facebook shares, the story was carried on major web sites including BabyCenter!
What captured the interest of the masses? See for yourself…”
Read the full post, “Quick! Boil the water…she’s having the baby!” over at BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood™!
Photo credit to: Sophie Burden
In the spirit of new beginnings and resolutions, I have decided that my 2016 should be summed in these three words. Eat, Pray, Love.
I am not particularly big on experimenting with my food, but this year, I am going all out. I want to have a great relationship with food. I have decided that I will keep healthy, but I will not be hesitant to indulge my taste buds and my heart in some really fantastic food from around the world. And while I eat great food and take my taste buds on a wild adventure, I will do well to remember to learn how to cook these foods, too. I want to be a fantastic cook.
I often look at food in pictures and wonder how it is possible that people make just good looking food. What sorcery! Well, not anymore, I am on a mission. If you can’t find me anywhere, I will be in the kitchen, cooking and eating, HEALTHY, well, mostly ( Life is too short). So dear world moms, do share with a sister all those recipes you have!
Spiritual Connection to source and meditation is high on my agenda. As mothers, we know all too well, how important it is to often release, reconnect and rejuvenate.
We give so much and forget to give ourselves as much as we give others and everything else.
I want to pray everyday, often, all the time and meditate, and truly live in positivity. Often I slip and complain, mope and forget to stop and smell the proverbial ‘roses’.
I also want to do a lot more yoga and a lot more meditation. Through this entire space, I would like to bring my family with me. A family who yogas together…..? That’s right, we will meditate, sync and positively power through 2016.
My 2016 is to be in love, love and surrounded by love. For myself, my family, my community and my country.
I want to fill myself up, that I will fill others up till the cup runneth over. It all begins and ends with love. Every morning of every day will begin with a loving prayer of gratitude to a smile and a deep breath. I intend for these to carry me and sustain me through my days this year, and reflect in my home and through my work. I hope that it radiates through all that I touch and everywhere I go.
As I write, I am taking a deep breath and exhaling gratitude, I am smiling, loving and about to have a beautiful dinner.
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Nancy Sumari in Tanzania.
Won’t you join me? What are your resolutions?
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Atalay
One of the boys smiles for the camera.
Traveling the world, I am always touched by the children of every place I go. Joy, creativity, and the desire to be loved is universal, and transcends borders, cultures, languages, and even circumstances in life. Despite some of the utter hardships some children face – whether it be war, poverty, hunger or disease – I find that kids are still kids no matter what. They all love to play, to learn, to have attention and love, and of course to smile.
Visiting children at either a local school, community-lead program or orphanage has become something I try to do on every trip to the developing world. I have found that even a short time spent playing and interacting with children, even if we can’t speak the same language, does wonders for the soul. There are tons of places in need of volunteers and visitors however finding the right place to visit can be tricky. Thankfully the perfect place to visit was just a short walk away from the gates of the hotel in Moshi, Tanzania where I was staying on my latest adventure.
The Springlands Hotel is the base of Zara Tours, one of the leading trekking and safari outfitters in Moshi and is the company we employed for our climb to Mount Kilimanjaro. Run by Zainab Ansell, Zara Tours has been brining guests on amazing adventures for over two decades and has also given back to the community in which they serve through the Zara Tanzania Charity. Zara Charity works to develop and support vulnerable groups within their community such as porters, Maasai women, and local orphans improving the lives for many.
Tanzania had been ravaged by the HIV/AIDS epidemic that swept across the African continent killing an estimated 30 million people from AIDS-related causes since its beginning twenty years ago (UNAID 2010 report). In Tanzania alone, HIV/AIDS has devastated an entire generation leaving a nation of orphans. UNICEF estimates that there are over 3.1 million children in Tanzania living without parents of which an estimated 1.3 million are orphaned due to HIV/AIDS. For many of these children, an orphanage is the only place they have to find food, shelter, education and medical attention.
The Kilimanjaro Orphanage Center in Moshi, Tanzania
The city of Moshi was not spared in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Right behind the Springlands Hotel lies the small community of Pasua, a dirt-lined street of homes and small businesses. In 2009, Edward “Teacher” Lazaro, a native Tanzanian, founded The Kilimanjaro Orphanage Centre in response to the dire need to provide care and shelter to an increasing population of orphaned children in the Kilimanjaro region. Lazaro collaborated with Zainab Ansell of Zara Charity to set up the orphanage and today the center cares for 60 resident orphans with the help of many dedicated local and international volunteers.
After a short five-minute walk, twisting and turning down the serpentine dirt streets of the village, I arrived at the gates of the Kilimanjaro Orphanage Centre. I could hear the laughter of the children from outside the gates. A large group of 20 volunteers were already inside playing frisbee with the children. This group would spend the next several days visiting the kids before doing a Kilimanjaro climb in honor of their charity.
This little boy was a tough customer to get to smile. I found out he is a neighbor’s child who enjoys coming to play with the kids at the centre.
To learn more about the Kilimanjaro Orphanage Center and how you can help, click here.
This post was written by Nicole Melancon of ThirdEyeMom and edited for publication on World Moms Blog.
When you travel is there one particular thing that draws you in each place you go?
All photos by Nicole Melancon.
They call me “MZ”
Never in a million years, did i ever think that i would be in a relationship that meant loving and embracing a child that was not my own, as my own. Not that i felt anything against the idea, its just something i never thought of or considered. But that is just how you see it. You have ideas and make plans and then Life happens.
Where did the term ‘step-children’ come from? Why is there a step?
For about four years, my ‘step’ children and I have been in each others lives. It seems like an easy enough relationship whereby i know my boundaries, in manner of not attempting to be their mother, rather a loving figure in their lives. It was a rather difficult relationship to define at first, because well i am not really ‘Auntie’, but yes ‘Dad’s Companion’ and also their sister’s mother.
Eventually they settled for an abbreviation, which i think is pretty cool, MZ they call , from “Mama Zuri.” Sort of like a superhero type? Or close? It feels like it.
And so on and on it goes – this journey of ours. We sometimes have growing pains. It cannot be easy to have someone around who they did not plan for. And this someone playing a role that they did not expect to see me play. But i am thankful and blessed in many ways. It is easy, when they are good kids. There is an occasional discomfort but we paddle through. Like any relationship, it has its ups and downs. But we work at it and it works out. I do not ask for much, other than respect for themselves and others and self discipline. I guess those are simple standards for children everywhere.
The notion of the evil step mother that is perpetrated in history never helps. So there is hesitation in getting close.
But I am confident that the less I think about it and the more love I give, we will get to where we are meant to be, which is in a space of comfort, ease, trust and love.
Do you have any step-children? How is your relationship with them? Any tips to share with the world?
This is an original post by Nancy Sumari from Tanzania. You can find more of her writing at Mama Zuri.
Photo credit to the author.