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The Land, Their Food, Our Plight.

Rural African women are expected to feed the family but culturally denied the right to own land. Even the ownership and use of land is a gendered phenomenon. In 1992, when I was 10, together with my 8month pregnant mother, we went to plant cocoyam on one of my Grandfather’s plots. Suddenly, her senior brother surfaced and threw a stick at her. She escaped the throw and took it for one of his usual expensive jokes before he said “since my stick has missed you, my machete will not. You have left your husband’s land to come and cultivate here. I own all the land. I will clear you off the surface of the earth, should you ever dare to cross this plot again”.

This terrified and traumatised me. Wow I thought, how can land tear apart such a lovely brother from a sister? However, I thought my mom was simply unfortunate until 2005 when I started my plantain farm on my father’s plot and a neighbour asked him; how dare you allow your girl child to plant plantains? Those are tricks to own that plot. She surely does not have the intensions of getting married. Why should she Plant plantains? Being the liberal type, my dad said: I give all my kids the same opportunity.

Today, these plantains have fed the family. Their green leaves have added beauty to the lovely organic farm. A place to be and feel: Land, their food our plight.


JaniceW's picture

So moving

I was delighted to read that your plantains have not only fed your family but are borne from the liberal mind of your father who refuses to follow the patriarchal system that dictates who works and owns the land. He is a role model for your whole family and the village, and I applaud his stance in spite of the criticism thrown at him. You may never be able to own the land but he has given you a greater gift -- that of education and empowerment. Thank you for sharing this story of your family and their land.

jadefrank's picture


Hi Luma,

I was so pleased to see that you submitted your own story of Land. And what a powerful story! Rather than letting land tear your family apart, your father has chosen to let you, his daughter, cultivate the land with plantains to feed your family and beautiful the land. This is a beautiful story of what Land can mean for humanity if we respect each other, believe in each other and honor the earth. People like you and your father can lead by example and by speaking out to empower other women to exercise their rights. Thank you for sharing Luma!

In friendship,

nina somera's picture

Keep it

Hi Luma, I hope you and your family will be able to keep the land whatever happens.

Nina Somera
Manila, Philippines

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