One year married

I was aware that I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I said “I do,” but I was not aware just how true that was. Nothing has gone to plan this year, but it has become more apparent just how much strength and grace God gives for each season. His provision has left me in awe, and I am more aware of the undying bond that exists with our kin.

I haven’t settled in to running a house as well as I would have liked and there have been lows, but the highs have been far greater. I’ve learnt a lot about myself, and a lot that I didn’t know about my husband, and my daughter. I have once again fallen in love with parenting and the things I once feared have proven to have been an illusion. I love, love, love where my life is at, but realise now more than ever, that where we are is not an achievement, because in the end, it’s not how we start that counts but how we finish this race, but still recognise that it’s something to be grateful for. Pressing on towards what is ahead, eyes focused on the surpassing greatness of Christ, I can only imagine what’s to come.


My mother on replay

So yesterday, I was at work, and right in the middle of attending to a client, this song that my mum sometimes sings and I don’t have a title for it, but every time that I remember this song, it doesn’t leave my system for days. The sad thing though is, I can never seem to remember the words and eventually the tune evades me too, and I am left with this itch and a need to sing a song that I can’t remember. So I messaged mum last night and asked her for the words and in the process, I remembered the tune. Mum sent me two audios and lyrics and I keep playing the audio. There’s something soothing about my mum singing that song and it doesn’t feel like I am playing the song over and over. Whenever I was away from home or from my family, I prided myself in not missing my parents, but after not living with mum for just over 4 months, I think I miss her. Key words being “I think.”  I’m also beginning to think that maybe, (just maybe) this is a song I will be singing to my children.

The little I have seen of the show.

When you have watched too many western shows and decide it’s time to create something similar but for Zambians, what you get is a misrepresentation of your country and its ideals and can’t even get speech norms right. This I say about the misnomer that is “Zuba.” definitely not authentically Zambian and makes me wonder if it was written with the worlds acceptance in mind or to portray our very valid stories. Now, if we the Zambians can not get our own stories out with ourselves in mind, who then will tell these beautiful stories? Or do we just want to seem like zee world and Disney channel, or whatever it is people watch these days?

I have to admit that I have only seen trailers of the episodes and the Character that is Zuba seems to portray some good traits and I would probably like her. I do however look forward to the day when authentic accents and authentic norms are celebrated as vital parts of our story telling process. How many Zambians can relate to the characters? They seem to lack depth and dimension and seem to exist merely for the dramatic; to act as a superficial pastime, a place to let your mind roam, stagnant, with no value to gain.

Celebrating sucesses

It is often said that women rarely celebrate women’s sucesses, but maybe it might be that we require reason to celebrate. I don’t think men celebrate every man’s victory or success … So maybe they just need a reason to celebrate … Like me today.

For the right girl, it’s not a might celebrate, but a definite I will honour this beautiful soul. In this case it’s a girl who has worked so hard despite falling a few times and inspite of her own fraying self belief at times. People see her now holding her degree and all they see is the beauty of it all. Behind the scenes though, they have not seen the tremendous hardship she has had to endure. The tremendous sacrifice that has been hers and her family’s to make.

Tabeth Mwema, well done. Keep keeping on and remember that whatever fight comes your way, you can take on, and whatever dreams God sets before you, He has graced you to achieve. I’m inspired by you.

Sometimes … Okay … not sometimes, Most of the time, I struggle with the idea that God will provide all our needs. Especially when there are deadlines at play. It’s easy to try and get everything done in your own strength, but I’m reminded of the prayer “God give me only what I need for today, lest I become rich and disown You, or poverty stricken and steal, and so dishonour Your name.”

He is a loving father, and so will in all things provide what we need. He sees those needs before we know them and even in those times when we don’t know what we need.

Our river of offence

I had an experience recently where I was enrolled into a course that I felt I did not need. I found it insulting because I assumed that it was because I was not of an Anglo-Saxon background that I was there. In my anger I sinned and did not represent the name I carry with the pride and dignity it deserves … But we won’t get into that right now.

soon found out that I was wrong and that there was nothing discriminatory about the opportunity. Yes, sometimes we do face discrimination, but when we carry those experiences and filter everything that comes our way through them, we become the ones being racial and discriminatory. We stop seeing the good in people and assume that every white person is out to get us or is framing their opinions of us from the view that we are inferior.

It takes a lot of commitment and conscious thought to challenge what it is we are internalising, but in order to not see yourself as a victim, it is essential, because, as the proverbs warn, we need to keep our hearts “with all vigilance, for from [there] flow the springs of life. If I let the source for all I do, become toxic, then I will be unable to give off anything good. When I changed my attitude, I ended up learning more about myself and about opportunities open to me that if I hadn’t attended that session, would have never known.

What are the filters that you are viewing life from? What is flowing from your life and colouring everything you come into contact with? Are they rivers of offence or hae your negative experiences left you a richer human being?

Hair tip 7: Hair washing … No one likes smelly hair.

It’s been a while since I posted, so I thought I would give you another hair tip. I was moving house and settling in has taken me longer than I expected and there just didn’t seem enough time in a day. I’ve also had internet issues, and that means that sometimes videos just won’t upload.

So how often do you wash your hair; are you washing too often or not often enough? What products should you use?

In order to determine whether or not you are washing your hair too often, I go by 2 main things. Is my scalp itchy from product buildup and sweat or dry and itchy due to overwashing? If the former is true, increase your washing, if the later is, reduce it. Generally my hair gets a wash every week but if I start to smell it, before anyone else can, I wash it.

What products? This is a personal decision. I would suggest trying cheaper shampoos and conditioners and based on the way your hair and scalp react, decide.

Happy watching.

Easy breakfast in a glass

I got this inspiration from a lady at church who can cook a mean feast (Hi Kitty!) Last year she posted a photo of her breakfast in a bottle that you could make a few days in advance so you have something healthy to eat on your crazy mornings. I decided to make it on one of my days off.

I used

  • 1 mango
  • 1 yellow nectarine
  • 1 cup of grapes
  • 1 Orange
  • 4 table spoons of Yoghurt
  • Half a teaspoon of Honey
  • 2 table spoons Oats.

I put the oats in a pot and put it on the stove and while they roasted, I cut the fruits and put them into two cups before whipping the yoghurt and honey (I find whipping makes it easier to mix than using a spoon) and added that on top of the fruit. When the oats were done I placed them in the fridge to cool them before adding them on top of the yoghurt.

I have my whole life planned out

I like to think of myself as a master planner when it comes to my life but if you know me, and know me well, you know that I really am not that great at planning. I used to be one of those people who just went with the flow, but I now find that in order to maintain my sanity, I need to have some set plan; and by that, I mean one of those unchanging fixed step by step guides for my day.

Life however is not like that. My parents, I am sure always had plans for each of their kids, and I am sure me having a child at a really young age was not part of it. Still, when it happened they rose to the challenge and walked out the days ahead.

I hadn’t planned on my daughter being as attached as she is to my mother, and I definitely had my mind set on becoming a vet. I had never intended to fall for any man; that to me, was an unnecessary distraction.

Our plans are not to be seen as set in stone, fixed paths on a road, but more like sign posts on an unknown road. Think about it in this way, someone with a good, kind heart wakes you up and says, I want you to get to a place called Destination, but I want you to get there with only a few clues that I will keep giving you as you make the journey. You don’t know what deviations exist on this journey, but you start off. At different points you may find road closures for whatever reason with signs saying detour. Sometimes the earth quakes and leaves you shaken. Sometimes you get magged on the way to Destination and you are left wondering why this good person has led you to this place.

We plan, sort of as attempt to get to what we think the destination is, and then we realise we have not arrived and have to forge ahead towards another pitstop. There are times we allow winds and tides to take us along and sometimes even take us backward. Sometimes we fall and break and lose hope, but rather than feel like failures, we need to trust the One who set us on the journey and walk it out, with plans that we intend to fulfill; plans we are truly working to achieve, but all that in line with the view that Christ is above all, and ultimately, His will is above it all, and that our plans might be changed by the true master planner.

Tea Set

It’s a wonder how colonial rule survived so long in Africa—with the fight and strength of her people, it’s a wonder it started in the first place. I guess, it fell, in Zambia, right at the time God had allowed for it to happen. She comes out of the house, and when he looks at her, it’s clear she’s just woken up; bleary eyed, with a white trail, lining her cheek, from her midnight drool, she sits next to him in the doorway.

Mwauka tyani?’ he says with a smile, but no response comes from the blank face, and a chuckle escapes his lips. He doesn’t mind that she can’t speak his—and her father’s—language, Nsenga. He greets her in Bemba, her mother’s language, before continuing his shave. Nyakawe sits quietly for a while, but he can feel her eyes fixed on him.

Shikulu?’ she calls quietly.

He turns at the familiar address, still in awe of the fact that he was an askulu, a shikulu, a grandfather. True to form, a question followed her address.

‘Why do you do that?’ she was looking at him, inquisitively, cheek resting on the pedestal that was her hand.

“Do what?”

‘That …’ she pointed at his ice cream covered face, and smiled shyly when laughter erupted around them. She watched as his slender fingers, with neatly cut nails moved the blade, in strokes, removing the shaving cream. There was something amusing about it, and she longed to try it.

Askulu remembered a time 30 years ago when the face of Zambia was so different. Tears flooded his eyes as he watched his other grandchildren playing in the dust. They were free, in a land their own. That had seemed an impossible dream 30 years ago.

Nyakawe got up and ran to join the others and he found himself making his way out of shaft 5 of the Nkana Copper mines again. The sun was drooping behind the trees in the distance, his back hurt from the long day of shifting rock, underground, for meagre pay. He longed to feel the warmth of the water, his alluring Ainala, always had waiting when he got home. Ainala; graceful and kind, she made life bearable, added joy to the hard life created by an unjust system.

Howard walked out of the mine with the other men, laughter and conversation filling the air around him, making the route home seem shorter. He was almost home when he saw little Jack, waiting by the fence, as he did every evening and in no time, the little boy was running towards his father. True to form, Howard picked the little man up and span him around.

‘How are you, my son?’ he asked, teeth showing as he broke out in fluent Nsenga, asking his son about his day. Ainala stood at the small gate as her boys came home. Jack transferred hands as his mother greeted her husband, her eyes speaking softly what her mouth didn’t say. Mining was hard, and men died trying to provide for their families. She thanked God he was home and smiled, ‘There’s water waiting.’ She said, adjusting the four year old on her hip. A thought crossed Howard’s mind, but he thought it wishful thinking and walked into the small yard. He stopped for a second look and was met by a blank look from Ainala. Shaking his head, he went in for his shower.

Food was waiting when he emerged from the house dressed in old bronze dress pants and an old stripped t-shirt that had a few holes, probably made by the crickets that sang at night. Jack was soon sitting on his father’s lap, sharing in the meal of Nsima with fresh pumpkin leaves; his mother on the reed mat close to his father’s stool. Conversation between husband and wife came easy; Ainala reciting the happenings of the day to her husband, who mainly listened, occasionally asking questions. He watched when she pushed herself up to help him wash his hands before clearing the plates. He smiled, to himself before getting up, ‘I need to go and check up on a Banda.’ he said referring to a friend of his who had recently fallen ill.

‘You can take Amake Banda the bag next to the mat,’ Ainala said, without missing a beat as she washed dishes.

‘I won’t be long.’

She nodded and Howard was off, Jack in tow.

They followed the dirt road that ran outside their house and turned onto a back road, making their way onto the street that was at the back of theirs. Taking a left, they followed the road for another ten minutes before turning onto Mr Banda’s street. The sun had gone down by now but he could still see where he was going. Almost from nowhere, headlights came on from behind, and a car sped towards them. Howard grabbed his son, pinning him between himself and the wire fence that was too close to the road, and left little room for anyone to walk on the side of the road. He felt metal graze his backside as the car went past. Laughter reverberated from the car as one of the passengers shouted, ‘kaffir!’

Letting go of the fence, Howard checked, Jack over, making sure he was okay. The boy looked shaken, but had no broken skin. Putting Jack down, Howard held his waist and sighed before erupting in laughter. He laughed at the food, that Ainala had packed for Amake Banda, now discarded on the ground. Jack watched him, not quite sure what was happening, but the fear he had felt a minute ago slowly receded.

Then his father kicked the dust in a fit of anger and the uneasy feeling started in his stomach again. What did Kaffir mean? His father picked him up and walked back the way they had come. Ainala had made a fire for them to sit around when they arrived. Depositing Jack in his mother’s lap, Howard walked back out, with only a promise to be back soon, leaving the child wondering if he had done something wrong. Anger flooded Howard’s veins, with an intensity he hadn’t felt before. There was injustice, gross injustice, but he had always assumed he could protect his family from the evils of colonial rule. But tonight, his inadequacy was clear.

He made his way to the clearing at the end of the road, where you could see the city of Kitwe; lights glistened where the white man declared his land. But this was Africa, his Africa, his home. Surely Jehovah did not intend for man to live in near bondage like this. He could see the mines, where he toiled, so those over the threshold could live like kings! Whatever the white men, were, they were not protectors as they claimed. What did the African need protecting from, if not them? He saw his grandchildren in Jack; there was no hope for them unless he declared them, equals with the “protectors”.

When Howard came home, he felt like a fool for having left without a word of explanation to Ainala. Shifting sheepishly from one foot to the other, he wondered how he would explain what had happened. Shame filled him, he knew Ainala would never see failure in him, and yet doubt lingered.

‘Are you sleeping outside tonight?’ her voice startled him and he walked towards her

‘Nothing good comes from dark treaders,’ he replied sheepishly

‘I’m glad you know it,’ he could hear the smile in her voice, and watched as the silhouetted figure got up and lifted her stool, ‘coming in?’

Howard followed his wife into their small, candle lit, one-bedroomed house. Jack slept on the living room floor, looking like nothing had happened— tranquil. Ainala watched as her husband watched him.

‘You left the candle on?’ he asked

‘I was only out a few minutes before you came.’

‘Fires have been started in less time.’

Ainala didn’t respond for a minute, crooking her head, ‘with a lot less, no doubt,’ she said taking his hand and leading him to the next room.

Lying next to his wife, Howard put an arm around her,

‘Will you tell me what you are thinking?’ she asked placing a hand over his.

‘They almost killed our son today,’ the words came out slow and without emotion, then he sighed, and she was sure he shuddered. Turning to face him, Ainala stroked his cheek.

‘I couldn’t protect him, Anyina Jack.’

‘But you did, and he’s fine.’ Ainala held his face between her palms, ‘You are a good father, A tata … a good husband!’ she spoke in his native Nsenga, her voice soothing.

He pulled her against himself as the tears he had refused to cry flowed. ‘I was scared I would lose him.’

‘But you didn’t …’ she stroked his back, waited a while and added, ‘and our numbers will be increased soon.’

‘I thought so.’ his voice smiled at her, there was no hiding the joy he felt. And in that moment, he thanked Jehovah, promising to do whatever he was called upon to do, to ensure his grandchildren would never face the injustice they experienced.

The following day—Sunday—meant the family got dressed and went to the kingdom hall. Their meeting was done by 11:40 and Howard saw this as an opportunity to go into town with his wife. They didn’t do it often, but today would be one of those days when they did a bit of shopping. Taking a bus into town, they made their way to a general dealer store.

‘Is there anything you like?’ he asked turning to Ainala

She looked around and smiled, ‘Those shoes would look nice on Jack,’ she said, biting her bottom lip, wondering if they could afford it. She knew how Howard wished he could give them more than he was currently. If only he knew just how much he had given her. Howard proceeded to ask for a price and was visibly relieved when it fit his price range.

‘Is there anything YOU like, Ainala?’ he asked again, turning to his wife again. He hadn’t gotten her anything, except necessities, in a long while; longer than he could remember and he hoped she would jump at the rare occasion. She had brought him great joy; the wife of his youth, he longed for no other. His heart sank when after a quick look around, she shook her head, ‘I don’t see anything …’

‘You haven’t really looked.’

‘There’s nothing I really like.’ She smiled,

‘Okay then,’ they headed towards the door, and then he saw it on her face! She had seen it, near the door—a tea set; white with little pink flowers and a gold ream at the top. There was a price on it and it he could afford it!

‘Could I please have that?’ he asked the shop keeper

‘Unfortunately, that one is not for sale.’ Mr Smith said with a coy smile.

‘But it has a price.’ Howard understood—there was an unofficial colour bar. Some shops only sold things to white people, but this store, allowed “his kind” to shop in them, while still reserving some things for white folk only.

‘It’s in the reserved section.’ Mr Smith stated, ‘I can sell you something similar.’

Anger came hot and fast; his heart trembled, and he felt like he was losing control. ‘I want that one, nothing else.’

‘I’m sorry …’

‘I’m not leaving without that tea set.’ He looked the man in the eyes, his voice controlled.

Ainala touched his hand in an attempt to dissuade him but he raised his hand for her to stop, his gaze fixed on the man. ‘I will not leave.’

Mr Smith motioned to one man and Howard was sure he would get beaten up, but he held the shopkeeper’s gaze.

‘K10,’ Mr Smith said.

‘Huh?’ Howard looked at him as if he had gone mad. He hadn’t actually expected the man to back down.

‘Not enough money?’

‘No, it’s not that.’ Howard handed him the money and watched as the tall black man handed his wife a box. Saying ‘thank you!’ he smiled and walked out of the store after his wife.

‘You could have gotten yourself killed.’ She said worriedly

‘Mr Smith is a reasonable man,’ Howard said thoughtfully, ‘I was in no danger.’

‘He is a white man.’

‘Not all of them are bad.’

‘Please don’t put yourself in danger like that.’

He didn’t answer her; couldn’t make a promise he couldn’t keep. All the same, he had just challenged the colour bar that officially didn’t exist. He had shown, in that small act, that he was equal to those who had set themselves as rulers over them.

Askulu,’ it was little Howard, his grandson, ‘tell us a story?’

Old Howard smiled, feeling a sense of pride at the fact that they had achieved independence. It saddened him that Kaunda’s dictatorship had replaced it, but maybe there was hope for their country in the hearts on these; his grandchildren. They asked for a story, so a story, he told them.