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Guezione Esther Zeite


To give you a perspective of what life is like for the women of Chad, we present several personal testimonies of Chadian women from the Guéra, taken from the book "Là où habitent les femmes" (Where the Women Live), edited by Renée Johns and Rachel Bokoro of the Mennonite Central Committee, published in 1993.


Esther and three of her children as well as her three grandchildren live at the Mongo protestant mission.  Esther is somewhere between 45 and 50 years old.  She works very hard in her fields and at home.  She is peaceful and gentle, and has a warm smile.  She became a widow in 1987 when her husband, her first son and several other men from the region were taken away by the army of the former president to be killed.
We are sitting on straw mats in the courtyard of her house while she tells the story of her life.  She was cleaning her millet as she spoke to us in Moukoulou.  She also speaks Chadian Arabic.

     What a joy it is for me to tell the story of my life.  I was born in Moukoulou village.  At that time, we lived in the mountains to avoid the slave traders who came from the Northeast.  I was born in the time of the great famine.  Because there was nothing to eat, we ate leaves.  My father went all the way to Saudi Arabia on foot to look for work, accompanied by his friends.  I was nine years old when he returned.
     My father worshipped idols.  He had two wives.  I also worshipped the idol whose name was Ra.  He was the god of the rain.  The god Ra was on the mountain in his house and every year we were obliged to rebuild it.  At the beginning of the rainy season we made a sacrifice of goats and bili-bili (millet beer).  Almost every kind of snake could be found in his house.  The god Ra communicated with his worshippers through a woman, a priestess who had what was called "vision."  I have never had vision of this sort and I knew nothing of it even though I had worshipped the idol since my childhood until I had children of my own.
     In those days there were also rebels who would arrest people.  Our Chief of the Land was also arrested.  It was during the rainy season.  He was taken to Bitkine, a town not too far from there.  It did not rain while he was gone.  The people thought it did not rain because he was gone.  Thus the Regional Chief went to get him.  The rain was falling as they were returning.  Everyone was wet except for our Chief of the Land.  Then it stopped raining.  The people saw this as a sign and the Chief of the Land sought to understand why he had been arrested.
     My sister who was a priestess wanted to do me harm.  This is why she told me that I had "vision" and had kept the rain from falling.  I was then arrested by the Chief of the Land.  They tied me up before beating me.  But it did not rain.  If they had beaten my sister, the god Ra would have seen the suffering of his daughter and sent rain.
     I devoted myself to the Lord but the problems of before were still there.  I was true to my faith.  But my parents disowned me.  I was committed to my husband and to the other brothers in Christ.  My family also mistreated my husbands as they had mistreated me.  I found refuge in my Saviour in the middle of my difficulties.  The missionary who was in Moukoulou made an agreement with the missionary of Mongo and we were able to work in Mongo.  It was the beginning of 1974 that we came to live and work in Mongo at the mission station there.  I know that God sees those who suffer for His sake.  He miraculously helped me throughout my difficulties.  All those who harmed me are all dead.  The Chief of the Land was killed by a bolt of lightning while he was working in his field.  But to this day I am not allowed to touch the children of my close relatives in the village.
     I had eight children, five of which are boys and three of which are girls.  Four of them are dead.  Now, I have two boys and two girls.  My husband died in 1987.

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