Nina Manzi – The mother of water
Nina Manzi is a mobile public wash facility designed to address the lack of access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene that rough sleepers in the Cape Metropole face daily.
The project aims to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our society have access to the basic human right of safe water and sanitation, thereby restoring their dignity.
The ambassador of this initiative, Nina Manzi, is a superhero created by children in Bulungula in the Eastern Cape. The mobile wash facility is decorated with her image and serves as the platform through which she manifests her vision for all to receive water. Nina Manzi is an inspiration to the world because she encourages all to appreciate water and its sacred qualities.
Below is a story of how Nina Manzi came to be as well as how she is impacting the world through her superpowers and love of water.
The story of Nina Manzi… The Mother of Water
It’s a suffocatingly hot and dry day in a dusty African classroom. A group of school children sitting in a circle, pass a small water bottle around to drink. It is their only source of clean water and they each take a small sip of what should be a readily abundant resource for all.
They raise their heads to look out through the classroom window and prepare themselves for the harsh reality which awaits them when they will leave the classroom to make their way home. Their eyes take in the dry arid land which struggles to bear crops due to a lack of water. People in the community are sick because there is no clean water to drink or to practice good hygiene. In the distance, they spot some of their classmates balancing buckets of water on their heads. These classmates are returning from a long expedition of looking for drinking water and as a result, they didn’t attend school today.
The children return their gaze to the circle as they each understand that the solution lies within each of them. Each of them knows that a (s)hero must be created to ensure that there is water for all and all are for water.
One of the school children gets up and goes to the back of the classroom to pick up a huge white piece of paper and returns to place it in the middle of the circle. Another child gets up to fetch a box of coloured pens and markers and places it in the circle. The children begin to write the characteristics of their water shero, not realizing at all the destiny their words, thoughts and creativity shall carry.
As they are speaking and exchanging ideas, enchanted water spirits attach themselves to the children’s words and carry each word up to the sky. When the words of the children reach the sky, they merge to form a cloud which is then blown off to the sea by the wind. The cloud with all the visions of the children packed together in one gigantic raindrop, drops out into the ocean.
The raindrop enters the ocean with a dramatic splash that ripples across the vast ocean. Immediately all the beings of the ocean stop in their tracks. They realize a special birth has just occurred.
All the sea animals make their way to the waters that stroke the frontiers of the Bulungula to witness the birth of the water queen. They know that she is finally here to restore the state of water and sanitation so that all may value and treat it consciously. She is here to restore dignity among people so that they may all receive a resource that is a basic human right. She is here to nurture the earth by pouring the healing qualities of water across the world. She is here to care for all. She is the Mother of all Water- she is Nina Manzi.
When Nina Manzi is older and has been taught all the ways of the water, she slowly begins to connect with the people of the land. First, she makes her appearance to fishermen and they soon begin to trust her when she shows them good fishing spots. She teaches them about water so that they make more empowered and informed decisions about it. The fishermen take this knowledge to pass on to the rest of their community. The fishermen appreciate her wisdom and they realize many more people would benefit from her knowledge. The fishermen collect some materials and instead of building themselves a boat, they decide to build her a trailer so that she may travel around the world spreading the loving and giving spirit of water.
One day, on one of her voyages, Nina Manzi asked for her trailer to be parked close to the sea because she had noticed how troubled it was. She then went into the ocean and found that it was filled with tears. She asked the vast ocean of tears where they came from and what had caused them; what was wrong. The tears told her that they came from souls who had lost their way and were now living on the street, homeless and without access to water. The tears told the story of hardships and brutality on the street. The tears explained why they had come to the ocean. They had been searching for her since they heard about her magical powers from the other rivers they had encountered on their journey. They had come to ask her to help the homeless.
Nina Manzi agreed to go to the homeless people the tears spoke of. She got back into her trailer and followed the trail of tears to her destination which led her to Cape Town. She decided to explore the city and saw the plight of people living on the streets. There seemed to be voiceless and invisible as people walked past them trying their best to ignore a problem to which they seemed to have no answers.
Something had to be done and she knew where to begin. She would begin by cleansing these people and bringing healing through the spirit of water. Today many displaced people living in the city visit her home. When they leave, they feel cleansed and inspired to start believing in themselves.
Nina Manzi is parked at U-turn Homeless Ministries in Claremont and serves homeless people in surrounding areas.