80 years old and landless
Meselina is of short stature, has a sinewy build and biceps of a body builder. Her veins bulge out along the length of her arm, her hands and fingers are thick from work. Born somewhere around 1940, her children are in South Africa and she lives with her husband, Madala Zhita, who is now blind. Alone she maintains the house, cattle, fields, gets water and firewood and pounds and grinds the maize for the two of them to eat. Before she was resettled from her home in the Limpopo National Park she selected the best trees from the forest near her house out of which she carved enough instruments for grinding maize, a large rounded pole like an oversized pestal, to last her at least a lifetime. She was afraid that in their new home she wouldn’t find the right wood.
After being resettled with the rest of the village she and her husband couldn’t secure any fields in which to plant maize when the rains came. When other resettled families went to look for fields and grazing land back inside the park on the other side of the river, only four months after resettlement, she and her husband decided to join. Because her husband is blind, she set off alone.
Meselina closed and locked the door of their new, painted, brick house, tied the key to a string and put it around her neck with the blue and white string of beads she was already wearing. She carried a large sack of maize on her head, and an empty yellow jerry can tied with a piece of cloth slung around her shoulder and set off towards the river where she would wait for a boat to take her across and continue walking for many hours through the forest in search of the others.
Back inside the park in the newly established informal village of Makhite Tchivirika, Meselina silently circled the forest as she carefully chose the site for her new home. The key to her brick house in Chinhangane dangled from her neck as she bent over to swing her machete against the base of a sapling to make room for her new hut.