Mallory Primm
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Into the Field

November 25, 2009 @ 9:44 AM | Permalink

The absence of blog posts can only mean one thing: I’ve been working hard! As the third and final phase of my research project I have been going out to “the field” and surveying local communities. With my trusty research assistant, Nonhlahla, in toe, I set out in my barely functioning Fiat criss-crossing the back roads of Swaziland with a folder full of surveys translated to siSwati and a box of pens. Here is the survey of what happened in Luve.

Luve is about an hour’s drive from the Swazi capital of Mbabane, where I live. A satellite of the larger town of Mliba (which itself is too small to have its own traditional court and is serviced once a week by the Manzini circuit court), Luve is small and lovely. Luve is on the edge of the low-veld, so its sprawling farmland played perfect compliment to the Mario-Cart clouds floating overhead.

When we arrived in Luve, we picked up the community organizer we had been in contact with from the main bus rank. Then we left the paved road for good. We arrived at the Chief’s homestead about 30 minutes later. We were led inside the compound and made to sit under the tree with the community elders while we waited for the Chief. Nonhlahla showed me how to sit with my ankles crossed and feet off the edge of the reed mat we were given. Then the chief arrived.

We spoke with the chief and explained why we had come to Luve. The elders debated and I sat nervously on the reed mat, uncomfortable in the skirt I was wearing and hoping Nonhlahla could hold her own against some seemingly ornery elders. After what seemed liked ages, we were granted permission by the chief to survey the community who would be meeting shortly to bring their grievances to the Imphakatsi or Chiefdom level conflict arbitration (for example, if you impregnate an unmarried girl, you must pay a fine in cattle – or – cash, and these types of issues would be decided upon at the Imphakatsi).

As the community gathered in the wall-less concrete structure, Nonhlahla distributed our survey and assisted the illiterate Gogos (grandmothers) in completing the survey. I stood by quietly, handing out pens and collecting completed surveys and staring out across Swaziland’s low-veld on the beautiful blustery day. I feel incredibly grateful that my “day at the office” involves sitting under trees with Chiefs!

When the surveys were completed, we had left some biscuits and juice as a “Thank you” gift and the more serious matters of the day got underway, including a child-support battle in which a father was ordered to buy milk for his ‘baby momma.’ We stood outside, speaking with the community organizer and the Chief’s assistant talking. We did the obligatory promises of marriage and phone number exchanges and then we were on our way, back to Mbabane, to input the survey into our Excel spreadsheet. Another great day in Swaziland!

Comments

Posted on 6/19/2010 by

David Broska

David Broska

just wondering if you have published any results?

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A good lesson for us all

Nicolle OConnor on Country Western and other Music in Swaziland 2009-06-11

just wondering if you have published any results?

David Broska on Into the Field 2010-06-19
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