wanted a child, and although Nora had tried to conceive during their three-year – relationship, Nora had not yet conceived.1 Mal therefore suspected her of not wanting his child, and Nora feared that their relationship would fizzle out and that Mal would take back the land he had bought for her. During this time, however, she got pregnant twice and since she miscarried, she strongly suspected her jealous sisters-in-law to be the cause. “They don’t want me—a malaya—to have land, house and even a caring ‘husband’!”
Nora and Mal started meeting more regularly; she became pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl. Nora continued with her business activities until she gave birth. When the child was five months old, Nora asked Mal for financial support to initiate a gem business—which soon proved a profitable enterprise. A few months later Mal joined her and he also temporarily moved into Nora’s place.
Roughly two years later, Nora’s mother died and while Nora was pregnant with Mal’s second child, she finished her house and moved to her one-acre farm (.shamba) together with her three children. Mal, however, was still coming and going. Soon after Nora gave birth to her fourth born, she was informed by her relatives about Mal’s love affair. She now gave him an ultimatum: either he would stick to her and they would jointly raise their children, or, he could leave them and she would remain with their children. Nora told him straight forward that he had to make a choice between her and the other woman, with whom he also had two children. Besides reminding him about the danger of AIDS, she also told him that the land, the house, and the children, including his, belonged to her, to her alone. If he wanted to remain he had to contribute to the household, if not he was free to go. Obviously, Nora was neither willing to accept him having another love affair, nor to economically support his two children born in that union. According to Nora, Mal has not slept outside since then.
When I last visited Nora, in April 2002, she and Mal were still living together. Nora’s first born, Eli, is now 24 years old and is attending a school for hotel management. Her 17-year-old son is, as most young men in this area, looking for a job and is meanwhile growing vegetables for sale. Mal has also changed job, but for some time now he has been doing leatherwork. Helped by Nora and Nora’s firstborn son, he buys leather locally and prepares it before he makes belts, bags and sandals for sale. After years of practice, it is slowly turning into a profitable business. Mal’s and Nora’s two daughters have turned seven and five. Like Mal, Nora has changed business activities several times, but for the last four years she has been building up her own business, partly helped by a male cousin, and she is now selling clothes and various commodities to tourists visiting Arusha town. 
‘Prostitutes’ or Modern Women? Negotiating Respectability in Northern Tanzania