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The struggle for nannies continues



I like social media, I really do. Apart from entertainment it provides news and also a look at the psyche of the average Mosotho. This week in particular we have been making jokes about maids and nannies not coming back from the Christmas break as they also resolved to cut toxic people from their lives. As the days are going past the posts have moved from jokes to job advertisements of people looking for maids and nannies. The post will be something of an imploration, a nanny is needed for around M800 to M1 200, three kids of primary and pre-school going age and a three-bedroom house that needs cleaning. This of course involves cooking and laundry! And you are surprised that the nanny from last year did not come back. Ha! Now I know what you will all say, the average Mosotho does not have enough income to pay decent wages for childcare and that Lesotho is not like South Africa, the minimum wage is blah blah, and to all that I say hogwash! If you have a three-bedroomed house in one of Maseru’s suburbs you are not part of the average Basotho. The same children attend affluent private schools, wear designer sneakers and carry iPhones and yet their parents insist that they cannot afford to pay their helper a decent wage. Now this is not a crusade for better pay for nannies and maids. I gather that most people assume there are subhuman and not worthy of the good things life has to offer anyway. I am more concerned about how one can comfortably leave their most prized possession – their children – in the care of someone they are mistreating. I, of course, assume people love their children and want only the best for them. The best for my child for me would mean a nanny who is sufficiently paid, with a healthy mind and a joyous outlook of the workplace. I would not be able to concentrate at work knowing that my nanny is so underpaid and debt-ridden as to be depressed. What care is someone who is constantly worried about finances and who harbours deep feelings of resentment towards you going to offer your bundle of joy? Even if your particular nanny like most Basotho women is so used to being mistreated that she will not even think to take it out on your child what mental state do you think someone supporting a family back home, as well as themselves is in? The struggles that nannies face in our households go beyond the crappy pay; let’s not forget the fact that the males of the household are also making sexual advances towards them. The madam of the house is taking out their frustrations on them and the English with a twang speaking children are disrespecting them at every turn. It’s enough to warrant a salary better than most executives, just on the basis of the mental strain alone. I often laugh when women gather around to discuss instances of maids flirting with their husbands; they genuinely believe that the taut bodied 19-year-olds who work for them are genuinely attracted to their potbellied spouses! Not at all, it is often a desperate attempt to make a few extra hundred Maloti, which they sometimes don’t even get because in addition to potbellies the average “pillar of strength” trades in lies and broken promises of “I will divorce my wife and this house will be ours”. Like I said I am less concerned with the welfare of helpers as I am with the welfare of the children being left with them. In a few months, videos will surface of a nanny beating up a small child with all her might, or stories of so and so’s maid who instead of putting the “danone” in the children’s lunch packs rather keeps it for herself to snack on its deliciousness later in the day. More stories will emerge of a pregnant nanny who got fired for her harlotry as she was having relations that were a bit too friendly with the gentleman of the house. The whole of social media will of course weigh in and the horror stories of maids will be discussed. Far be it from me to say that someone torturing a small child who is left in their care is anything less than a criminal act, that person should of course be prosecuted and punished.   However, we cannot deny that even us who are treated reasonably better in the workplace have resentments towards our respective employers and given a chance would love the chance to slap them, and if not them, their helpless child (in case my employer reads this I must vehemently state that I have no desire to slap anyone as I am very happy and besides with social distancing that seems unwise lol). Jokes aside, it is rather strange that when these cases happen, we never look at the root cause of why nannies are so bitter and depressed. So as far as new year’s resolutions go, at the top of our list should be treating the people who help us in our households better. If not for them, then for the safety and wellbeing of our children. Will these stop incidents of children being abused by household staff? Possibly not, but I am sure there will be a decline and as a parent you can rest easy knowing that you are in no way contributing to your child being in the care of a resentful and quite possibly depressed individual. After all, if we buy the best clothes, phones and education money can buy for our children, why not the best childcare that we can afford as well. Hopefully next January your toxicity won’t lead to your household staff cutting you off. Thakane Rethabile Shale

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