Poverty and women heads of the family
Between 1990 and 2015, Zimbabwe underwent an intense rural migration and a rapid urban expansion (of 2.3% a year), but 68% of the population are still de rural, with many families headed by a woman, living without basic infrastructures like electricity, running water and road access.
The women from the tonga village in the picture had to face precarious harvests collected by their subsistence family units, which often ran out before the next harvest came. To stretch it out to a maximum, they gradually reduced family consumption until, if necessary, they were down to one ration a day, which they adjusted according to the remaining food. At lunchtime they pretended to cook while telling tales to their infants.
We can find not too different tales in rural Spain in the 40s, in Zamora and León, for example. The mothers placed a dish of potatoes, bread or bacon in the middle of the table, around which their numerous family sat, and held a long rod which was used for guiding cows. Then, each sibling took a handful following established turns, and if they skipped this, got a smack with the rod so that they let go for whoever’s turn it was to take it.