Biographies

Zwelinzima Vavi
My political conscientisation began at a very early age from my own ex-perience and from listening to the stories of the suffering my parents and elder brothers and sisters went through. When others went to preschool, I and my brother and sisters were doing chores at the farm without any form of compensation. I think I must have been only five years old when this systematic introduction to the farm labourer’s working life began. I did that until my family relocated in 1971.
To this day, every time my family meet they recount their experiences at the hands of the farmers. They talked of the life of unfair dismissals. They recount details of abuse – the beatings, including of children. They talk of their parents’ awful Zwelinzima Vavi working conditions and poor pay. They talk about the discrimination and humiliation of young and old alike. They talk about hunger in the midst of the plenty they helped to produce. They talk about the life of evictions. They told me in detail how my family, during one of these evictions, ended up spending days literally along the side of the roads, with my parents sleeping in the open whilst the kids crouched under the horses’ cradle in the middle of the cold winter nights. On these occasions my father would every morning walk kilometres from one farm to the next in search of new employment.