Agonies of a Leader
I was born through a natural birth which I experienced myself and my mother when the labor pangs started when the first cock crowed at 1:30am on the April 5th, 1979. This was a fourth experience for my mother but to me this was my first horror and I could foresee what life was like in the human world. I was scared in a way that I started kicking uncontrollably in order to escape from that amniotic environment.
I gave nobody time to seek help from the maternity ward that was located about 25kms from Chidzuma Village in Dowa district. Nobody could dare walk in the dark paths which, at that hour, were full of hyenas who were moving from house to house sniffing and following any smell of tamed animals. My gandfather, Vunguti, had many goats and you needn’t ask how many hyenas were salivating and chanting outside rampaging the tree stumps that were used to shut the goat dorm. You could tell from the frequent sneezing of goats that they were under seige.
My head was already out and I could sense how tense and silent the world was while my pain partner was in anguish. I inhaled the first air which caused too much pain in my lungs and this was the first time I realized that I had an important tool which would later be used to influence my territory. I bursted into a loud cry, a cry which gave hope to the hyenas outside who were so desperate as time was elapsing and any delay on their part would result into hours of hunger. They thought I was one of their prey that some colleagues of theirs had gnawed.
I was born and my granny who was assisting my mother with her encouraging words was very happy and had wrapped me in a kapulana. It was a different experience as the warth felt was too dry and there was too much noise. People were talking and I heard one saying bring the pair of scissors. She used it to cut the union between me and Alessa. This was the day that my liberty started despite them not asking me over which name I would love to be named after. They shouted so loud, Yoshua! Yoshua! That I hardly heard the footsteps of frightened hyenas running down to the waterless rivulet that guided them to their caves. Dogs were barking in fear.
They took me to Chankhungu Health center for them to register me as if I was born there. This was the first time I used a scale and I weighed only 2.5kgs. Life was not easy as one could shell a pea or tell a lie contrary to how I lived in my mother’s womb. Every move was and is still a challenge. I realized that I ended up landing in a poor family and my father was nowhere to be found. He had done the very same thing that he had done to many women. My mother did not go further with education. She dropped off in the second year of her high school to look for a job and take care of her brother Yoweli as their parents getting old. It was at this time that she married Pulli who left her with two kids, Eleni and Humphrey.
Yoweli finished his high school and got a job. To pay back what his sister had done, he took Humphrey to stay with him as he worked for the government. Eleni was staying with an aunt, a younger sister to our mother in a distant district.
I only knew a door that led me into first grade class when I turned twelve years of age. Mixed with friends of different social status, I was not the only one who walked bare footed. I got my first plastic shoe when I passed from fourth to fifth grade — a class I never studied due to a long illness. By then, my mother was a hospital servant. She earned $10 only monthly basis. If not by the farming skills that Vunguti had glued into her, our life, depending on the $10 pay check, would be chaotic. She tried her best to make me happy and I preferred not to be grumbling. She is still my partner despite the umbilical cord that disconnected my dependence. I will always love her.
I never asked her about the whereabouts of my father. She had told me his name and she helped me to have jotted down on my first notebook front cover. It was only when I had graduated from high school that I took some time with her, asking stories about my father and I could tell from her way of commenting that she has suffered some trauma inspite of her kindness. She gave me basic information, enough to trace somebodies foot-prints. By then, I was in deep love with my classmate — Enita who went mad for some few months. It is believed that she had been bewitched. I tried to be there for her but I had a mission to accomplish.
Off I went in search for my father. It was a true adventure. I met a minister of Commerce of Malawi who happened to have known my father. He knew where he was but he was very reluctant to fund me. Instead, he asked if I wanted to go to college. I was balanced between knowing my father and college. I needed both but the desire to meet my father at the age of 22 was so strong that no college wind would blow to make my rivulet desire meander.
The mozambican ambassador was another man to meet and this one had more information about my father. He even financed my trip. How can I forget Mr. Agostinho Tombanane? No ways! I had knocked on his door 30 times in thirty days and each day, his guard chased me saying I was not well dressed to be able to stand before the ambassador until one day he was coming out and found the two of us quarelling.
I embarked the most adventurous road crossing the Malawi-Mozambique boarder at Calomue. I had my identification papers prepared by the embassy, with only cash to lead me to Manicaland I was consumed into the horrizon of mountains and forests crossing the zambezi river at Tete, sleeping overnight inside a bus — Oliveira Transport Services. I did not have enough money to curter for anything that could have gone wrong. I was far from my lovely mother hindered by language, I learnt new skills of influencing people without speaking same language, a skill which took me to my father’s house door in Gondola district. I was attended by a huge lady whose body structure was of an improper fraction. She was loud and asked me in her language who I was. I fished out an old photograph of my father which I found while I searched him in his foot-prints.
In photograph, he looked tall with long afro-hair that looked like Robert Nesta Marley undreaded. She gazed straight into my face and called the house maid to come over. She stepped out of the interrogation as she had drawn her own conclusion. She was not of the same age as my father. She looked younger. She knew that the man who she was married to had a story behind his age that could even trace him back to London.
I was welcomed but I could tell from the looks that my life was dropped badly deep into hell. A house of loud voices. I met my father a month after my arrival but he came with his workmates and his look was telling me that I was not the only one. Not much attention. I was born to lead and throughout my life, I have learnt to survive……. This was in the year 2000. I still wonder how I ended up in the IVLP nomination, how?
To be continued….