How my mother saved me from one incident of molestation


so today I read a sad story about a 13-year-old who was molested by a vice principal at a her school and the sad events that followed. I couldn’t help but think of my own daughter who is 14 and whether she would be comfortable enough to talk to me about any such experiences. I sometimes wonder, like many parents if we have done enough to protect her or if ever it is possible to protect her.

I was reminded of my own experience from about 20 years ago. I am a Trust school kid, and at the time was in Grade three. I was one of those students who didn’t do her homework and didn’t finish her work in class but still managed to come 12th out of 24 students on the grade ladder. Eventually I think my teacher and my headmistress tired of my attitude and notified my parents. Mum straightened me out on the homework front, but my speed when carrying out tasks was none-existen … still isn’t great. One afternoon, another student and I didn’t finish taking down notes and we were asked by our teacher to go back and finish them (we could go home and eat lunch and then go back  to school). I went  home and because I lived 30 minutes out-of-town, by the time dad dropped me off at the school my classmate had already left.

I went into the class and started taking down notes and a janitor came in to clean the class. At some point he was  standing close to me, and though I can’t remember the conversation, I felt uncomfortable. He reached to touch my face and I pulled away. He kept reaching and I was going to fall off the chair when I blurted out “I’m going to tell my mum”. He left me alone and I stayed clear of him every time I saw him in school. Of course I didn’t tell anyone about it but the reason I have blurted out that I would tell my mum was that I had remembered my mum saying that if anyone touched us in a way we didn’t like (not her exact words) that we should tell her.

I moved to the upper trust school the following year and sometime later, the same Janitor was with another janitor (one who was nice to students) and he tried to join a conversation that the nice janitor was having with me and my sister. I pointed out that I didn’t like him and that I hadn’t forgotten what he had done. He said he didn’t know what I was talking about and I insisted he did and he walked away. His collegue looked puzzled and hezitated before continuing the conversation.

Just that one experience has informed my parenting in an attempt to protect my daughter, but I don’t know if it is effective or not. I started telling her about inappropriate touch from about 2 and a half and tried to make it  clear that if anyone touched her in a way that made her feel bad, she should tell me. Why those words? because most sexual abuse victims will tell you that they felt something was wrong or they felt bad or ashamed and the language needs to make sense to the child. As she’s grown older, my language has also changed and sometimes I simply give her scenarios and ask for her responses. By no means do I think it’s fool-proof, but our options are  limited. We can’t go everywhere with our children but we can give them tools to protect themselves. Even with those tools, their courage may fail, or things might still happen for whatever reason. In such cases, remember to not place blame on the child, and to show them they are loved. And always remember to pray, because where we don’t go, God still goes, and in the end, His ways are higher and His healing hands always able to bind what the enemy destroys.

As for this child, I pray that she  finds peace and that she remembers her worth and beauty and the courage to live life to it’s fullest.

 

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26 years of grace


As this day comes to an end, I feel it appropriate to give praise where it is due. God has brought me this far. There are some who might call me crazy for believing in a being I can’t see, but this life has been rough! So, so rough and unrelenting in it’s challenges. When I felt out of place among my peers, with no confidence in myself, it was among God’s people, I found acceptance. It was God who gave me a family that defends, protects, corrects and accepts, even when I have nothing that seems acceptable within me. It is this same God who has seen me through moments of great despair, when all I could see was death. Few would know this, but there were times, plenty of times, when death seemed appealing. When I was so scared of throwing myself in front of a train, that I couldn’t leave the house, it was God who brought healing.

It was Him who gave me the child, who has been a teacher and inspiration. It was God who has kept me standing, brought me joy and brought love into my life when I least expected it. It was him who gifted me with a love for words and poetry, writing and drawing. I am a mother, with endless dreams and possibilities. Everything I have to be proud of, has been given to me. Gift’s, I hope, that can point people toward heaven.

I’m a beautiful work in progress, but oh has He been gracious to me and has never let me down! I am learning to rejoice in His goodness and trust His wounds and to count every blessing. I am filled with a sense of urgency, to make my life count, and if  unchecked, that could make me throw caution to the wind and make a mess of what I believe is a calling. I am not where I want to be, I fall, I’m the “chief of sinners”. I’m flawed, and my greatest prayer lately can be summed up as  “help my unbelief.”

I guess if I died today, I would want people to see God’s stamp at every step in my life. If you learn anything from my flawed life, I hope it’s that God is good and that there is nothing that happens out of His authority, and that if He allows it to happen, it has a purpose! I’m 26, and I’m living again; that is a miracle, that renders me unable to forgo the craziness of believing in a God I can’t see … I have seen Him, in the grace of those who share my belief, in those who shared it before me. I have seen Him in the small details of my life. Not only have I seen Him, I have heard Him and my prayer is that I would see Him and know Him as more valuable than anything else.

Can paedophiles change?


I was reading about the case of the baby who was allegedly abandoned in Thailand by his biological parents, who took his twin sister and brought her back to Perth. I subsequently watched part of an interview broadcast on 60 minutes. If anyone is unaware of the story, quick google search will deliver the story to you. Recently, it has been revealed that the biological father of these children has been convicted of 22 sex offences against children. In the interview, the father claims he no longer has sexual urges towards children and the woman interviewing him makes a statement to the effect that she has interviewed  many paedophiles and they have stated that they will always be paedophiles.

I understand that children should be protected and that we should be concerned with the safety of children, what I am trying to figure out is; is it right to make statements like “once a paedophile, always a paedophile”? If some paedophiles have stated that they will always be that way, does that make the statement true? We are constantly told we have  the power to choose our destiny, so why are we championing the view that people are victims of their biology? Where is the power of choice? In saying to people, this is how you are and you will forever be this way, aren’t we defeating them in the process? Can’t they choose to be different? Can’t they choose who they will be?

Are we making our society safer by making such statements or are we in fact making it harder for people to decide to change and be better? Are we saying, “you are broken and cannot be fixed” and throwing people in the “discard” pile. Doesn’t it seem weird that on one hand we say to paedophiles that they have no choice in the matter, they are who they are, and yet on the other we a so filled with anger when they offend. I think we are so angry because deep down we know that they have a choice and that they are responsible for those choices and it doesn’t come down to mere biological defect.

I personally believe human hearts  and minds can change. They can be renewed and made whole, and while I don’t think I would leave my child in a room with someone who has been convicted of sex offenses, I don’t believe anyone is beyond redemption. There is always hope and every human being should be looked at as an individual, not based on what others have decided about themselves.

The beauty of God’s presence


I feel like heaven’s face is shining on me today. Not just today but every day. I had forgotten what it felt like to read the word, worship and pray. I’ve longed to feel like I did when I got saved, to have my craving for sin vanquished and forgotten. I have many cravings, some sinful, others possibly wholesome. But this past week, I have seen God shift my priorities ever so slightly and yet that small shift has left me feeling like a new person … and all it took was Him showing me, despite my mess and cravings, that I needed to worship Him. In those moments when He is our focus and we strive to have Him be all we think of, He clouds everything we think matters and even the things we seek refuge from. In those moments there is peace and freedom. There is nothing more beautiful than God and the greatest blessing is to be His and experience His great love and presence.

Why support Compassion or Watoto


I wrote a post on why I don’t support Compassion but this one is an argument for why I should. This is by no means a change in my views that long-term Aid cripples rather than lifts up but an addition to it. As I said in the other post, I used to sponsor but due to financial constraints I stopped. It is a commitment that requires a consideration of where you are and whether or not you can continue paying the monthly $48.

1. Compassion and Watoto are honourable in the work they do.

I once had an issue with Compassion over the way information was presented at a conference and got in touch with them. They were open and apologised and explained their policy and how they do things. I was left feeling more confident in the work they do. They let locals tell them what is needed instead of going in and saying “this is the way things should be done.”
The locals run all the programs. They are clear about what it is they are doing with the money and up to date, I have not seen an ad of theirs that uses falsified information.
The same goes for Watoto. And any person who would stay and help people in a war zone, definitely gets respect from me…

2. There are people in Serious need

I used to often look at Aid adverts especially if Africa was mentioned and think “this is not possible, I grew up in Africa and things aren’t that bad.” But isn’t it funny how we are so quick to say that and yet we get so angry when we are grouped together as Africans. I don’t know how many times I have been asked questions that assume I’ve come from poverty because I am African. I think at least two people even assumed I was a refugee. Considering we know that there are variations in culture and circumstances, doesn’t it make more sense that some countries are well better off than others and that what we have seen, is by no means the norm? there are peaceful countries as well as war-torn ones as well as famine and abundance. In the case of countries like Rwanda, Congo, Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia, etc. there is a need for outside help and Aid, within reason to help them build. Couple the effects of war with HIV, you have children that need caring for. I have never been to any other countries in Africa except my own and Zimbabwe and South Africa. From what I have heard from people who have been to some of these places that have experienced war, the levels of poverty are beyond words. That doesn’t mean however that poverty doesn’t exist in our country…it exists everywhere.

3. Personal responsibility

I am an African and there are very few Africans who sponsor children. Don’t get me wrong! There are a lot and I mean a lot! of Africans who take care of orphaned children within the family as well as outside. But I used to think why should I sponsor children when I have family who need “sponsorship”. I have family with needs and  that those children have family too. But the reality is in war, families are disrupted. Our Pastor who went to Rwanda recently was telling us how in some cases only one family member out of 74 had survived. So many children were left alone, with no one. As an African, it is my responsibility to take care of my own. I came to this conclusion thanks to my Pastors and because of the convictions that God had been placing on my heart prior to that. But hearing what our pastors saw, and their wise counsel, we have to rise up and take responsibility for Africa. I guess it is even possible to say, for those suffering in the world. Starting with our own but growing to fit the whole world in our hearts.

I still hate the adverts with the swollen bellied children and a fly. But in this world, no one is perfect and you can’t have it all. There are only two organisations of this kind that I find this close to perfect. Compassion and Watoto. So if you are going to sponsor a child, definitely do it through them. Also consider the cost and whether you can manage it before you commit but definitely consider it!

We Africans are a lazy bunch


I once posted the heading of this piece on Facebook. I was praised by some but on a larger scale was bombarded by anger and disappointment. No doubt people were thinking “yes, tell them!” and others probably thought I was looking down my nose at Africans because I am in the Western World. This is not even in the least a licence for any non-African to say, “Africans are lazy”. Believe me when I say I love Africa; There is no place more beautiful, no group of people more lovely, no culture more rich and definitely no group of people more hard-working.

Okay, so why would I say we are a lazy bunch if I believe we are hard-working? I don’t believe in stereotypes and this is by no means a labelling of a whole group of people. The simplest answer would be the analogy that if Africa were a person, God would not come back today and say “well done my good and faithful servant!” That is the simplest answer I can give based on the fact that Africa is the richest continent there is. We have every resource, starting from people right down to minerals, land and food. I will give an example of a small country in Southern Africa, called Zambia. Compare Zambia and Australia, you find that the soil in Zambia is way better; throw seed on the ground, it grows. The rain comes every single year without fail. Australia on the other hand is mostly desert. The soil is not as rich and the rain not as reliable and yet they manage to produce food and even export it.

We have been blessed with so much and yes, our challenges are huge! The thing is, these challenges are meant to grow us, not make us shrink back and stop trying. We have been ravaged by HIV and AIDS, leaving many orphaned, yet we are not leading the effort to find a cure. Malaria is stunting the growth of  our economies and yet there is little effort on our part to get rid of it. We are at the mercy of pharmaceutical companies that have no need to care about Africa. We allow people from other parts of the world to dictate how we run our countries. When the west came with baby formula saying it was better for babies, we let them in and even though we still breast feed our children, they came back years later to teach us how to breast feed. We allow ourselves to be shown as incompetent because at the end of it we will get some money.

Instead of working hard to develop our countries, our politicians are lazy and power-hungry only concerned with lining their pockets, forgetting that the Africa they are building will be the Africa their grandkids occupy. Our mines are owned by foreigners and we all sit back and watch as what is ours is taken from us, tax-free. How can a continent so rich be so dependent on the western world for Aid??? Why is there no justice in our own countries when the one victimising us is a foreigner? Why have we made ourselves so vulnerable? How long will we cry colonialism and how long will we blame the world for our failures?

Belgium and France might have divided the Rwandans but it was a African leader who was too lazy to do his job that he decided it made sense to make a difference as small as tribe be what people focused on, and it was the people, marching with weapons who chose to kill, regardless of who shot the Presidents plane down or who supplied the weapons. It wasn’t Britain that bought designer suits using Zambian Tax payers money while education standards were falling. It wasn’t Britain dividing and conquering us, as people took to the streets with weapons because their political party had internal fractions. It wasn’t colonial masters that took farms by force in Zim and after the white farmers left, it wasn’t them that failed to manage the farms. Yes sanctions were imposed but there was still a whole continent willing to trade with Zim. In the same vein, it wasn’t the Colonial “masters” that mismanaged ZCCM to a point that we couldn’t run our mines. The examples are endless.

We keep pointing to what the Colonial “masters” did but our choices today are ours and we have to take responsibility for them. Our street kid problem can not be blamed on the “powers that are trying to divide and conquer Africa” but us! We have failed to take care of our children. And as long as we blame “them”, aren’t we then saying, we are still under “them”?

I know there are a lot of people who spend sleepless nights studying for exams. There are people tilling the land and people working endless hours trying to provide for their families, but in a sense like the servant in the bible, we have buried the gifts given to us and refused to multiply them. And it seems that even that which we have, is being taken from us.

When God gave  the bags of money to the servants, he gave them each according to their ability. We have been given so much! Have we really realised how able we are to change the lives of our people? We can bless the world! Why would God choose us, to give all this wealth to? Considering to whom much is given, much is required, have we really lived up to the requirements of our gifts?

The issue isn’t how hard we work as individuals but that we as a continent, are waiting for the world to solve our problems. I was asked what I was doing to change my country and continent because all I do is talk. I don’t claim to know it all. I know I am part of the problem and I hope and pray that we will rise up and fight this fight to see ourselves as worthy of more. That we will be able to say “I am responsible for my country and continent!” if anyone has interfered with the goings on of my house, it is because I have let them!

Yes, maybe lazy isn’t the best term but I have racked my mind to find a better term and cannot. We need to stop looking at greener pastures and complaining about what we don’t have and start working with what we have because it is so much more than we realise.  Being in Perth for 6 years has made me realise just how blessed we are as Africans. To whom much is given, much is required and considering how much we have been given, we will be held accountable for a lot!

A21 Campaign walk for freedom


So, was going to say that today was the A21 Campaign walk for freedom but it was actually yesterday, missed it by a few hours. My mum and I walked today but we didn’t finish the whole 7 km walk because we got lost on our way to the starting point and were running late because we had been cooking for an event at our Church, which happened to be African Night.

There are people suffering out there and this might sound self-centred but just walking and donating money towards a cause like this, I think is a good way to help make better choices. In the fight for purity, it’s always a good thing to be reminded that behind the pornographic video or photo there might be a woman who is enslaved. Two slaves; the consumer and the one who matters most, the victim.

Before you access pornography, remember, there is a person on the other end, who in a lot of cases does not want to be where they are. Before you enter a brothel, remember that too. There are so many people who call for the legalisation of the sex trade but do we ever consider the ramifications of such a move? Even if brothels were regulated, so many people would slip through the cracks, especially in countries where corruption is rife.

I pray that God gives us enough compassion for the many who are enslaved by our selfish desires. That even when temptation arises, we will see our own children, family and friends exploited and that “that” will keep us sane enough to say no. Its only in saying no that an industry this big can ever be overcome. On a deeper level, that His love and grace will penetrate to the depths of our hearts and render us only slaves to Him.

49 years of independence


We went from “one Zambia, one nation” to a nation whose leading party is split and their cadres killing each other in a space of less than 50 years. This has never happened in the History of Zambia. Zambians are known to be peaceful people and now here we are 49 years after fighting for independence from Britain with a ruling party without leadership. People have often said how hard times were  during  President Kaunda’s time but I don’t think it ever got to a point where people marched with ama panga hacking others to death. I might be wrong because I wasn’t there but I have never read or been told of such lawlessness or disregard for lives.

Kaunda united us with a motto of one Zambia one nation. His ministers where not of a particular tribe and despite his failures, we became one people under him. Chiluba came on the scene and apparently made things better for Zambians. Even though he was not my favourite of people, he had respect for life. He declared Zambia a Christian nation and people applauded him, all the while taking what belonged to Zambians and setting himself up. But in a sense he still united Zambians. Then Mwanawasa came and fought corruption that had entangled our country…a vice on steroids. He died and our country went to the Dogs. President Banda took the country back further than we would care to admit and now President Sata.

I shake my head not knowing how to say the truth whilst being respectful of a man who makes it hard to respect him. The PF government is bickering within itself. Our President has no respect for world leaders. He has insulted the Tswana people, insulted the Nigerians. Should that surprise us when even before he became president he was insulting the president as well as Zambians? Zambians are peaceful people. We prided ourselves in that but now how can we say that when for the first time cadres have walked our streets with weapons, and hacked themselves to death.

Have we forgotten what has happened in the countries around us? What makes us think that we can ever win if we turn on each other? What country will we leave for our children? Have we hardened our hearts so much that we can’t hold life as sacred? We shake our heads at what the whites have done to us or what the Hutus did to the Tutsis or what Mugabe is doing but what makes us think we are any better??? The volcano is erupting and for the first time in my life I am ashamed of what we Zambians are becoming! Our people need leadership that embraces all people and keeps itself in check. Elders have to show themselves respectable and I am sorry to say that I do not believe our elders have done that.

So much for our President claiming that our country will be run on a Christian foundation. Many people claim that the Colonial masters came in with a bible in one hand and a gun in the other. Our Politicians come in flying the banner of Christ while stealing from the most vulnerable. Our President needs to lead his party before his party can lead us. We need to become One Zambia – One Nation again! ;(

24/10


That date marks three things for me. It happens to be Zambia’s independence day, My small mum’s memorial but also happens to be my cheeky young sister’s birthday. That I think is the best part of it and I will talk about that last (always good to end on a high)!

Our independence day for me sort of leaves me feeling a lot of things. While I am glad that we are no longer under British rule, I see things that go on in my country and I’m saddened. What sort of country will my grandkids live in? Is this all we have to offer our kids? Corruption and misplaced priorities? I often ask myself, “what did our forefather’s fight for?” Did they just fight to break the power of one oppressive force to have their children shackled by another? Seeing the state of my country leaves me thirsty for change and hopeful that one day, we will get there. I am reminded of a story I have been told about a man who went to a shop and was told he couldn’t buy the tea pot he wanted because he was black. Only white people were allowed to buy it. He didn’t leave without the teapot.

That man was Zachiluka Phiri, my grandfather. A man who refused to believe he was less of a human being than a white man. I think even that small action was a step in the struggle for liberty; if not for the country then for our family. He was saying to me generations later, years after he died that I was equal to a white man, that the shade of our skin was skin deep. That we were created equal. The fight for freedom from Britain ended 49 years ago for our beloved country but the struggle for liberation hasn’t ended. Corruption holds us down and is choking us. Its time for us to fight so that we can say to our children and theirs after them that they can achieve all that they set their minds to. That when they apply for a job, that they will be picked on merit and on a level platform with everyone and that corruption does not pay!

As for my small mum, she passed away in 2006 a day before I started my grade 12 exams. I generally don’t do well with death, I just crumble to pieces and I remember being unable to stop the tears for days even though I had exams. At school, on the bus, etc. Bana Bwalya was a woman with a lot of fight! She worked hard and she fought for what she was entitled to. You could not defraud her. She also had a sharp tongue and said what she meant! There was never a time when I had to guess where I stood with her. I guess it’s safe to say, she picked her battles and fought them well.

Then there’s my little sister who turns sixteen today. She has my small mum’s sharp tongue and I pray that God will use her to ignite a fire in our family and country that can’t be tamed. A good one that will purify our gold. She is beautiful and intelligent and my prayer is that she sees her worth and sees her gifts and uses them for such a time as this; for our season. I see a fire in the two that have gone before and I see the same fire in her (among others). Yes Mwaba my sweet, you think you know better than me today but I love you all the same and I see you beautiful. here’s to celebrating a beautiful soul. I still remember a little person in nappies 🙂 and can see a beautiful life changer ahead ! Happy birthday my sweet!

Still single


People wonder why I’m still single. I’m a 24-year-old who’s never been in a relationship and people are getting worried that if I go passed this age bracket, I might never get married. At different stages of my life, I have had reasons for not being in a relationship. One big one was fear. I was not willing to give a man a chance. Then at one point, I discovered I had my heart set on one man and was unwilling to let go completely. I finally did get close to being in a relationship but his heart was not really in it. I was an option, or at least that was the impression I got.

I had to move on and though there have been offers; not many I might say, I don’t believe in jumping from one relationship to the next, so even though I have never actually dated anyone, it feels right for me that I wait and see where God takes me. Those issues are still there, I guess everyone has their own but I need to work on me and my relationship with God so that when that man finally comes I’ll be ready. I wasn’t anywhere near ready the last time. What does ready look like? “In love with God” is what ready looks like and I am not there yet. I know what I am asking for in a man but I have to be working at being that kind of person. So it’s not a matter of counting works or checking a love metre. When I get to where God wants me before He brings a man, if He has one for me, then a man will be there waiting.

I am single because I am a daughter from a long line of strong men and women; men and women who have shown me to stand strong when I believe in something; women who built legacies alongside their husbands and men who respected their wives and protected them. I refuse to settle for less. If he can’t respect me before he marries me, it won’t matter after.

I am a sister and have younger sisters who need to see that settling is not an option. That there is more to life than a man to buy your Brazilian. That there should be a standard and that it is okay to be alone if God permits (Not yet at that stage). That they are too valuable to settle for a man who only sees their body or a man who is willing to trade them in for pleasure or a man who fills himself with alcohol endlessly or a womaniser. I have seen that too many times; even in my own family. If it did happen that I ended up with a cheat, it should not be because I saw those traits and settled anyway.

I am a mother and I want a man worthy of my daughters affection. The day she was born left no room for men who don’t know what they want. I am too “unstable”! There is no way I am going around adding to my instability by finding myself a man who can’t care for himself. Marriage is not an adoption and I refuse to be a grown man’s mother when I’m called to submit. I want my daughter to see in me, if I do get married, the example that I have seen some before me show. I want my sons and daughters to be blessed by my marriage and not to be maimed by it. I want a man whose example for my sons will leave them loving God, respecting themselves and the women around them; protecting them and not making baby mamas at every corner. I want them to see that I was me and that I was not defined by my singleness or my being coupled. That in whatever state I was in I lived. That I refused to be pushed in a corner and settle for just anyone. That while time waits for no one, focusing on the man I don’t have is daylight robbery. I refuse to let others make choices for me and that the responsibility for the consequences is mine.

I am more than a couple, more than a single woman, I am more than my feelings more than my aging ovaries. I do want to get married but not out of fear of dying alone, yes I am sometimes scared but this is the season of my life and I will live my life as it comes. Along with these things, I want my example to be that I did not sit around and wait for a man but that I lived for God and that nothing held me back. I want to move from where I am and to grow in each season, counting my blessings and not looking at what I don’t have.