News / Own Your Life

Narissa Subramoney
Copy rewriter
3 minute read
25 Oct 2021
5:25 pm

Contralesa leaders join the push to get villagers vaccinated

Narissa Subramoney

Men from traditional backgrounds are reluctant to get the jab because they fear losing their manhood and infertility.

Baberwa Raphahlelo tribe leader Kgoshigadi (Queen) Shapo Raphahlelo

Contralesa leaders in Limpopo have been hard at work, trying to spread the word to villagers to get their Covid-19 vaccines.

A host of traditional leaders countrywide have teamed up with the health department to get more people inoculated and address fake news making the rounds about the vaccine.

Tshikhudini Village in Vhembe District headman Muzila Maraganedzha said he was an early adopter of the vaccine and got his jab in July.

He has since addressed several village gatherings in a bid to educate the community members about the importance of vaccinations.

“I told them the vaccine will protect us from getting ill.”

Maraganedzha said he lost a friend to the virus and he’d heard that people in neighbouring villages died after they tested positive.

He said most people had heeded his calls for vaccination and trust that the government is trying to help them survive the pandemic.

But the youngsters in the village are less convinced.

“The younger people are afraid they will die after getting the vaccine,” said Maraganedzha.

Most of the vaccine-hesitant are reportedly soccer fans.

“I told them to see soccer matches with British, Italian and Spanish teams. They must look at those stadiums and see the people in their numbers without masks,” said Maraganedzha.

Maraganedzha explained that life in first world countries is almost back to normal because their populations have been vaccinated.

Maraganedzha and the local ward councillor are still addressing gatherings aimed at educating people about the benefits of the vaccine.

Limpopo village woman income obliterated during Covid

Baberwa Raphahlelo tribe leader Kgoshigadi (Queen) Shapo Raphahlelo began her career as a traditional leader at the start of the pandemic. To date, she has not been formally inaugurated because of the lockdowns.

Raphahlelo said most of the villagers from the Baberwa tribe are single mothers whose income is heavily dependant on brewing traditional beer.

Raphahlelo described a great sense of community among the women.

“They take turns to brew beer and sell to different leaders so that all of them can earn money,” said Raphahlelo.

But the alcohol bans during the Lockdowns forced these women to stop brewing beer, and they had to find other means of supporting their families and each other.

“Some of them became domestic workers and caregivers for families where the women still had jobs,” explained Raphahlelo.

She said villagers had followed the government’s instructions to socially distance themselves during the pandemic. Raphahlelo had told her constituents not to attend funerals or gatherings and urged them to remain at home.

“We heard of people in other villagers who died, and traditional leaders who died, some are my friends, but I never left my house,” Raphahlelo explained.

Like most South Africans Raphahlelo is Covid fatigued and longing for life the way it used to be. “I never got to have my celebration and feast when I was inaugurated as a traditional leader. I have since asked for approval to hold the commemoration in November,” said Raphahlelo.

She is urging the villagers to get their jab so they can be free to mingle and socialise for her upcoming celebration.

Raphahlelo spearheaded a campaign to get the elderly vaccinated by providing free transport to the vaccination site.

Next, she targeted taxi ranks but found that men were reluctant to get vaccinated because they “feared losing their manhood.”

“I told them that is your mindset and they need to change it if they want to live,” said Raphahlelo.

But the Kgoshigadi is disheartened by the news of an impending fourth wave.

“That is why I am using the inauguration feast and celebrations to encourage vaccinations so that we won’t suffer too much after December.”

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