One Bag; How many Uses?


This type of bag is very common here in Tsumkwe. As you can see by the photo the bag has come from South Africa filled with maize meal as a food gift. The San people are a marginalised group here in Namibia and as such they receive certain benefits from the government. One of those benefits is a food package and part of that package is a bag of maize meal which is the staple food stuff for the people. The bag is made of thin strips of plastic about 3mm wide which are woven together to make a “cloth”. These bags start their life as a container for the maize meal but once the maize meal is consumed the bag is put to other uses.
The bags are quite strong and so we often see people carrying all their worldly goods in one of these bags slung over their shoulder. When they are not used as bags they can be used for many purposes. If you take three or four of these bags and open the bottom of them and “sew” them together with anything from thorns to wire, they can be used to create a ground sheet to sleep on or to sit on. The opened out bag “sheet” can then be attached to sticks that form an enclosure that enables one to wash in privacy. We have seen them used to “waterproof” and “windproof” dwellings. They make great bathing mats. When one is bathing outdoors, which is how most of Tsumkwe bathes, then you need something to stand on while you scoop water over yourself or you find yourself covered in dirt that has splashed onto you and stuck to your feet and legs. On the occasions when we do get rain these bags are used as capes or jackets, with a hole in the bottom for your head to go through and then one in each side for your arms! Great for kids!!
Are we out of uses yet? No way! Need some string? No problem, all you need to do is pull out the individual strips of plastic that make up the bag, slide your skirt up and roll the strip along your upper thigh three or four times until you have the required thickness for the job you want doing. This string is used for making the local craftwork like necklaces, bracelets, belts, bags etc. If you want a stronger twine, then you twist or plait three or more strands of the thin string together. This will then “fix” any number of items from thongs to bicycles to bundles of wood.
I have but one life to be used for the glory of God. My prayer is that I may be open to be used in as many different ways as God sees fit whether it is as a humble bathing mat or as a gift bag of life sustaining food.

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