Life As We Know It – Part 1

The car sped off, rounding the corner in a cloud of dust. I stood there, bored; unable to comprehend it all. Everything was dusty – the trees, the grass, the little animals all suffocating under a layer of dust. Squinting into the dusty sunset, I could make out a small brick house 500m from where I was standing. I put my laptop bag onto my back, and tried to wheel my suitcase along the dusty road. It kept spinning, twisting my hands. At this point, I could not have cared less. Chances of using it again were slim. This was the beginning of the end of everything. Maybe, one day I would be able to use the contents.

It had been a collective decision, everyone reached a consensus. In order to protect everyone, someone had to be the sacrificial lamb. No-one would miss me for long, I would be the one to take one for the team. As Ben always kept saying, “Sophia, for this to work, everyone has to sacrifice something.” All these years, they each played their part; it was now my time on the stage. The stage looked bleak, dark and impossible. Props were missing or broken, and I seemed to have forgotten my lines. The teams going to Mars for the rest of their lives had nothing on me.

Brilliant young minds had come together one summer. We were college students, working as interns at local insurance firm. Passerine Insurance. They hired the best of the best, paying well too. Every year, insurance programmes from universities all over the country would submit names to Passerine, and wait for their students to be selected by this prestigious company. Once Passerine agreed to take on one or two of your students, this meant that you were doing well. They were known for being highly selective and competitive. In 2017, I – Sophia Chimbwa – was among the five selected. All in all, Passerine would admit five students to take part in their internship programmed every year. At the end, they would offer three students permanent employment upon graduating. In a country with above 80% unemployment, I was indeed lucky. Brainy, but lucky. Along with me were Benjamin Museve, Shinga Mudhuri, Ropa Dhonza and Angel Mercer.

One day at lunch time, we all rallied to go out for a cheap lunch. I could tell the conversation was guarded, not as free as usual. Ben, coughed and started speaking as the waitress was bringing us the drinks.

“Sophia, do you have family? Where do they live?”

We used to joke around, but this time his voice showed concern and sounded oddly intimate. I rambled on about how I was an only child, and my parents had migrated to Australia. Over the course of the lunch hour, we discussed how tough things were generally for everyone all round. In conclusion, Ben told us it was up to us to turn our fortunes. He had a plan, and everyone had a role. It was not going to be easy; maybe borderline illegal but not entirely illegal. Anyone who did not want to take part was free to walk away. Angel decided he did not want to hear what Ben had to say. That was the end of our lunch dates. I was broke and bored; and had nothing to lose. Shinga had 4 siblings to support, he was already forfeiting meals because he could not afford them. Ropa, well, she was just Ropa. Anything with excitement turned her on.

Lunch dates became more frequent. Ben, would try to carefully spell out all possibilities. Every morning, each one would be hard at work at their specific tasks. Somehow, Ben would get all sorts of insurance cases. He knew the people, from where? is the question which still baffles me even to this day. One day, a farmer walked in. He had insured his tobacco the previous year. A hailstorm came, shredded every leaf. Ben was the underwriter on the case, and I was sent to investigate. One Tuesday morning, we drove over to the farm – and I was surprised to hear Ben and the farmer laughing and joking like old mates. When we got to the farm, Ben pulled me aside and told me to follow his instructions; and that the farmer was an old family friend. Following instructions would benefit everyone immensely. I followed instructions. I never saw a single golden shredded leaf. It had not rained heavily in weeks at the farm. My investigation said otherwise. In a month, my phone pinged. I was confused at first, then I saw the tobacco farmers name appear. He had deposited money into my account. Immediately, I called Ben. He brushed it off, and told me, that was my payout for following instructions. This is what our lunch dates were all about.

Ben ran it all. Shungu, Ropa and I, followed instructions. Ben’s family friends were insurance savvy. Payouts for everything came out. Stolen cars, medical procedures, car accidents – you name it. These people were well insured. We four would underwrite or investigate. Ben would tell us what to write, and we would follow instructions. Weeks later, a loaded ping would sound. Shungu opened accounts in his siblings names, and school fees was not a problem anymore. Ropa, had money to burn. I was just there, stocking it away. Investing a little here and there. One rule, all paperwork had to be kept offsite. I was the offsite.

One of the insurance cases included a house which had been set alight by lightning. Shungu and I were sent to investigate. The house was there, and the payout was massive. The summer turned to winter, and before we knew it we had to go back to college. After graduation; Ropa, Shungu and Ben were called back to Passerine, I had to go and look for another job. Ben kept me in the loop. Over the course of the past year, I had finessed the art of looking for clients. From the comfort of my home, I staged the insurance plays. I was now the entry point. To get to Benjamin and the rest, you had to go through me. I had the paperwork. We had the money. Being officially employed persons, Ben and the gang were able to live vicariously without anyone suspecting a thing.

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Maputo, Moçambique

Views from Hotel Pestana Rovuma

In 2016, I found my way to Maputo as part of my work travels. I was excited, travelling is exciting. The journey was long despite it being air travel, as there are no direct flights from Windhoek to Maputo. The minute I got onto the LAM Mozambique Airlines, “Exotic” settings were switched on. The language changed to all Português; the flight attendants were dressed in African material aprons (this is quite exotic for an international airline); newspapers in Português were handed out. The funny thing was the English. The Pilot spoke with a heavy American accent; whereas the flight attendants spoke first in Português ; then in English which sounded like the previously spoken Português . So, I never understood a single word of the safety procedures.

We arrived at 8pm, and Maputo was bright and buzzing. A city of close to two million people; it is unusually overcrowded. I was hit by a cloud of hot air; and all the coldness left my joints. An immigration official dressed in all white like a Navy man, handed out little papers for us to fill. The English was distorted, but it was readable. Immigration officials were very welcoming and off we went to our hotel, attended there by young men with heavy American accents. I never saw much except the bright lights. The next morning I was very disappointed. Maputo is a coastal city, hit with rain every other day. The walls are full of mildew and a lot of high rise flats everywhere; as well as abandoned buildings. Traffic is congested and roads are narrow. Car owners inscribe their car windows with their car number plates; crime is rife. My boss asked me how I liked Maputo, and I told her straight up – the poverty is disappointing; my heart bleeds. Her answer – they are actually living their best lives and you shall love it. I went back from that trip with a heavy heart, I could not bear the site of families under bridges.

Fast forward to 2017, I made three more trips to Maputo and got to see more of the city. I got to interact with the people. Like my boss said, I grew to love Maputo. Riding in a Tuk-Tuk, eating fish by the road side, visiting the night-time hang-outs. The music, the dances, the food and the people caught my heart. They don’t speak English, but they try to accommodate the selfish English – speaking visitors. I got lost one time, and asked a guard for directions. He did not know English, I knew not Português – we decided to speak Zulu. I got my Zulu from watching South African soapies.

Going around Maputo, one sees a great divide. You have the poor living in the low income areas. The areas are crowded and they use congested public transport. Little make-shift shops everywhere. High-rise buildings everywhere with very little parking space. However, the smiles and the happiness is contagious. Then you go to the high income areas. I was surprised to see all sorts of fancy hotels in Maputo. No one puts up fancy hotels in a poor place where no one comes. The Radisson Blue, Southern Sun … they are all there. Even the Chinese have built a huge hotel there. I couldn’t afford to stay there at any of the fancy places, so I went to Hotel Pestana Rovuma as usual. After all, they have a restaurant which blares Portuguese music next door, and all sorts of exotic dances happening. There is a roundabout with a huge statue of Samora Machel in the centre. This is truly Mozambique. Their translations are fun to read. Maputo has a vibe which grows on you. Can’t wait to go to XaiXai and other places.

“Do not disturb”

Baby Ma

I gave birth to this little cute human being. It was quite the journey and the trauma accompanied with pregnancy pains and natural birth still makes me cringe. My grandmother always used to say Pregnancy is an illness, I thought she was lying; I now understand. Hopefully I’ll be able to get past those terrible memories, enough to spawn another.

I spent most of 2018 pregnant. It made me realise that having a baby makes your life stop for quite some time; and you really need your strength and all the support you can get to continue. Most women (and men especially) don’t see pregnancy as incapacitating – kudos to them, I’m speaking about those who do get all the bad pregnancies and it is actually beyond their control. The pregnancy fatigue is real; the food aversions and cravings are real. I would sleep at 6pm and wake up at 8am the next day, and only because I had to go to work. I remember putting vinegar in Mazoe Orange Crush one time, my taste buds were a mess. I managed to last 9 months! Childbirth pain, I was really angry at the women who came before me and downplayed it. I still am. My doctor is a very patient man, I had to go and apologise afterwards. I asked my friend why she never told me how bad the pain was, her reply – It’s indescribable, one has to experience it on her own. From midnight to 5am, I have no idea what happened in my life, I was floating in and out.

So my baby’s nickname is all variations of John Cena. Don’t ask. He is JC, the Champ. The little man looks nothing like the person I popped out and came with from the hospital. I am a chronic complainer but I can never find anything to complain about concerning him. I fear he is in danger of being spoiled. My sister said, normal moms are always complaining about how babies change their lives but I understand you aren’t a normal one.

I need to congratulate myself. The journey was tough. He is a calm baby now, I think he is giving me time to rest and gather my energy.

I love you JC!

PS: I don’t even work weekends or bring work home anymore. A plus!

Deafening Silence

My country, Zimbabwe, has had its internet shut down. No emails and social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and most importantly What’sApp. The people inside the borders of Zimbabwe have had their voices muffled. They are crying, and noone can hear them. This is akin to being boiled in a huge pot, with the lid closed.

The army and the police are doing rounds. Beating people up, scaring them; even killing some. Their crimes – protesting for a fair and just life. Everything is haywire, fuel prices have trebled, while the salaries of the few who are employed have not moved an inch.

This cannot continue to happen. The army is supposed to protect us, how do ordinary citizens fight an army with live ammunition?

Enough is enough

Boycotting the Christmas Holidays

I do not want to spend Christmas with my family or any other holiday for that matter. I do not feel like attending any family gatherings such as weddings, funerals, birthday parties, graduation parties and roora/lobola/bride price ceremonies (especially these).

I was born on Christmas day and any efforts to celebrate it with family culminates in the birth of conversations relating to “why are you not married yet, look how old you just turned”; which never die.

So I have people asking me, “Why are you playing the field, don’t you ever get tired?”.

But who told you that I am playing auntie, have you seen me playing?

Weddings and Roora ceremonies make me cringe. Everyone is always predicting,”Next month or next week it is you”.

“Please show us the in-law. Introduce us to him.”

You inform them that there is no in-law, you are asked, “What did you do to him? Stop scaring men away?”.

So I am supposed to just tolerate all the abuse he is showing before marriage, don’t you guys have any mercy for me?

After the bride price ceremony for my younger sister, yes she went, my aunt came out at me telling me, “Gore rinouya toda kuunganira iwe pano (Next year we want to gather here for you)”.

So my question is, do you want to just gather for the money or you genuinely want to see me off to a happy marriage. If it is about the money, I can arrange.

I dread funerals, I hope noone dies anytime soon. Everyone, even those who have never seen you are asking you about children and husbands. It is so tiring.

So the thing with these gatherings is, if you are single and childless you become the maid. You get to cook and wash dishes for people’s husbands and children. The ladies with husbands and/or children have a job to take care of their husbands and/or children. Your job is to run around to make sure they are in a good position to do their job well.

In terms of sleeping arrangements, since you are the one who does not “need” the privacy; you get to sleep in the common room with the rest of the teens and pre-teens. The bedrooms are for those who have issues to discuss and; babies who need the peace and quiet. This common room can be the lounge, dining room or kitchen. At 4am you have to wake up and clear the room for normal purposes. This is after you have slept after 12 midnight as it is football season or Africa Magic, Zee World and Telemundo.

So I am boycotting all these shenanigans and going to enjoy my time with other single people for as long as I can. Been doing it since 2015, and will continue to do so until I can be properly respected. I would have loved to rent a hotel room but alas, this is perceived as being aloof, so they just will not see me.

It’s my birthday after all, and I deserve better than sleeping in a kitchen.

“Jesus is Forever” – Pastor Isaac Wimberley

“If there are words for Him then I don’t have them.

See my brain has not yet reached the point where it could form a thought that could adequately describe the greatness of my God.

And my lungs have not yet developed the ability to release a breath with enough agility to breathe out the greatness of His Love.

And my voice, see my voice is so inhibited , restrained by human limits that it’s hard to even sing the praise up, you see, if there are words for Him, then I don’t have them.

My God, His Grace is remarkable, mercies are innumerable, strength is impenetrable, He is honorable, accountable, favorable.

He’s unsearchable yet knowable, indefinable, yet approachable, indescribable, yet personal

He is beyond comprehension, further than imagination, constant through generations, King of every nation, but if there are words for Him, then I don’t have them

You see my words are few to try and capture the ONE TRUE GOD, using my vocabulary will never do, but I use words as an expression, an expression of worship to a Savior, a Savior who is both worthy and deserving of my praise, so I use words.

My heart extols the Lord, blesses His Name forever. He has won my heart, captured my mind, and has bound them both together. He has defeated me in my rebellion, conquered me in my sin, He has welcomed me into His presence, completely invited me in. He has made Himself the object of my sight, flooding me with mercies in the morning, drowning me with Grace in the night, but if there are words for Him, then I don’t have them.

But what I do have is GOOD NEWS, for my God knew that man-made words would never do, for words are just tools that we use to point to the truth.

So He sent His Son Jesus Christ as THE WORD, LIVING PROOF, He is THE IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD, THE FIRST BORN OF ALL CREATION, FOR BY HIM ALL THINGS WERE CREATED, GIVING NOTHINGNESS, FORMATION.

AND BY HIS WORD HE SUSTAINS IN THE POWER OF HIS NAME. FOR HE IS BEFORE ALL THINGS AND ABOVE ALL THINGS HE REIGNS. HOLY IS HIS NAME!

SO PRAISE HIM FOR HIS LIFE! THE WAY HE PERSERVERED IN STRIFE. THE HUMBLE SON OF GOD BECOMING THE PERFECT SACRIFICE.

PRAISE HIM FOR HIS DEATH! THAT HE WILLINGLY STOOD IN OUR PLACE THAT HE LOVINGLY ENDURED THE GRAVE THAT HE BATTLED OUR ENEMY, AND ON THE THIRD DAY ROSE IN VICTORY.

HE IS EVERYTHING THAT WAS PROMISED.

PRAISE HIM AS THE RISEN KING.

LIFT YOUR VOICE AND SING, FOR ONE DAY HE WILL RETURN FOR US, AND WE WILL FINALLY BE UNITED WITH OUR SAVIOR FOR ETERNITY! ETERNITY!

SO IT IS NOT JUST WORDS THAT I PROCLAIM, FOR MY WORDS POINT TO THE WORD, AND THE WORD HAS A NAME, HOPE HAS A NAME, JOY HAS A NAME, PEACE HAS A NAME, LOVE HAS A NAME, AND THAT NAME IS JESUS CHRIST!

PRAISE HIS NAME FOREVER!!!!!!!!”

Life and faith

Life has this habit of coming to me at full-speed. Sometimes I get knocked down, sometimes Newton’s Third Law of motion comes into play and I fight back: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”.
However, in as much as life goes on and it becomes a whirlwind; I have realized one thing. I always look upon my faith. There are times when it escapes me (faith); times when I don’t believe at all. Times when things become so difficult that I lose track of what is happening. Having experienced both worlds, I have come to accept the world in which I belong and where I want to be. The faith world. God has this thing of free-will; where He doesn’t force you to believe and worship Him. Where He knows that your spirit was made to worship, that eventually you will get back to worshiping Him with a force greater and stronger than before.

These are my ramblings today at 5 a.m, they are not making sense even to me. Hopefully tomorrow morning at 5 a.m I will be more lucid. As for now, I am telling Jesus all my problems and He is answering me.