Recalling her life at the time, she says
I lived with many men, hut they only messed up my life and gave me problems. At the time I was young and stupid and I therefore accepted men [i. e. sexually] too easily. I met men in bars or along the road; they approached me and I accepted them. That is why I have given birth to so many children. I did not think of my future. I would join a truck-driver or any man that came around. I travelled with my lovers to different places, such as Dar-es-Salaam andBukoba [a town in the north-westernpart of Tanzania]. You know, I used to be a malaya, but my mradi [‘project’ or ‘business’] did not run with profit. Often I did not even bother to ask my various lovers for personal help or money. Therefore, I never prospered. Whenever I got some money I would usually give it to my grandmother who took care of my children.
During my first research period, from 1991 until 1995, Rachael did not have a steady lover or someone she referred to as a ‘husband’. Whenever this topic was raised, she referred to her past experience and strongly argued, “I know men’s behaviour. They will only add problems to my otherwise difficult life.” Just before I left the field in 1994, however, she resumed a relationship with one of her previ-
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ous lovers and the father of her eight year old son. She was very excited about the reunion, and she proudly showed me a picture of her previous lover portraying him together with his (legal) wife and their five children. Soon Rachael got increasingly involved with her previous lover and she began to refer to him as her ‘husband’, and proudly she told me about her plans: “My ‘husband’ has asked me to look for a plot of land and has promised to help me to erect a house.” Ever since Rachael settled at Tengeru, she has been planning to build a house, but she has been unable to purchase a plot of land at a reasonable price. She explained: “You see, my ‘husband’ is wealthy, he has cars, guesthouses, and he owns farming – land.” Rachael’s ‘husband’ was also a driver for one of the tour-companies situated in Tengeru. After his frequent trips to the Kenyan border, where he collected tourists travelling to Tanzania via Kenya, he brought crates of Kenya beer to Rachael’s shop.
When I returned to visit Rachael in 1995, she had managed to build a ‘modern’ brick house and she had finally become a bar owner. Annexed to her house, she had built a bar. She was still involved with the same lover and was regularly visited by him, but, as she argued, “I do not want to live with him. Now I am old [34 years old] and I have learnt my lesson. I know men and I do not want to lose my freedom!”
When I visited Rachael in 1999, I found her busy and hardworking as usual, pursuing goods for her shop and keeping her customers company in the bar. She was still commuting to Namanga, buying Kenyan goods and commodities, but she had also extended her business activities to include more luxurious commodities which she purchased from Zanzibar. However, Rachael’s ‘husband’ or longterm lover had died the year before. He actually died at Rachael’s house. He took Rachael by surprise when another lover visited her. During the fight that consequently evolved between the two men, Rachael’s ‘husband’ died of a heart-attack.