Citizens
Portraits of Canadian Women of African Descent
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Henriette Nzuji Ntumba
Extrait sonore

Meeting with Grandmas of the World
MEETING THE GRANDMAS OF THE WORLD

Henriette is invited by the Collectif des femmes at Louvain-la-neuve in Belgium: "They are carrying on my work, which is encouraging. When I was there, I talked about Quebec and they introduced me as a Quebec Grandma. That warmed my heart."

Henriette Nzuji Ntumba

Every age has something to bring forward. Why must we put old age in parentheses? All of life is contained
in it.

In life, one must dare. That's my motto. Even if it doesn't work, it will be a sign of life. Only the dead do not know failure!

Remarks recorded during an interview.


Born in Kinshasa, today in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Henriette Nzuji Ntumba loves to recall what her father used to say to her and to her brothers and sisters: "Instead of leaving you a plot of land or possessions that might divide you, I prefer to leave you something for your head, for your heart." Responding to her father's wishes, Henriette continued her education in Belgium. After completing studies in business administration, she opened a vocational-training centre for women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Recognition

RECOGNITION

In 1993, after the death of her husband, she had to face the harsh condition of widows. "It's as if you had committed a crime. They accuse you of being a witch. You endure so much sarcasm that you lose yourself." She decided to found Les Veuves unies pour le développement intégral, an organization for the self-development of widows. She gave one of the parcels of land she owned to these often psychologically and financially impoverished women, so that they could cultivate it and provide for their own needs. The political and economic instability of the country, but above all the illness of one of her daughters living in Quebec, prompted her to immigrate to Canada. "Feelings of maternal love led me to follow my children, to help the one who was in need." In 2000, at the age of 58, Henriette settled in Montreal.

"To immigrate is not easy, especially for a person of my age, " she says. Noticing that most older immigrant women lacked activities, Henriette founded in 2002, in Montreal, the association Mamies immigrantes pour le développement et l'intégration (Immigrant Grannies for Development and Integration). Its French acronym, MIDI, signals hope and dynamism, for, as she says, "at midi (noon), the sun shines." Reflecting the diversity of its members, this intercultural body offers a wide range of activities, notably talks given at retirement homes on the countries of the world. "Diversity makes us strong. There is reciprocity, there is love. Love is a weapon of mass construction!" Henriette devotes herself to projecting the image of "grannies for everyone," who are ready to help and who have both feet planted in life, rather than simply remaining spectators. "Lack of occupation kills!" she exclaims. Even today, neither age nor the Quebec winter stops Mamie Henriette. "Sometimes the children say to me, 'We called and you weren't there. Where did you go in this weather?' Once outside, I no longer see the snow. I see the objective, what I must accomplish."



Veuves Unies Pour le Développement Intégral
VEUVES UNIES POUR LE DÉVELOPPEMENT INTÉGRAL

A Mother's Pride, Across the Wires
A MOTHER'S PRIDE, ACROSS THE WIRES

Montréal
MONTRÉAL

My Little Darlings
MY LITTLE DARLINGS

My Love
MY LOVE

My Namesake
MY NAMESAKE

My Accomplices
MY ACCOMPLICES