Life of Bahati

By Christian Mukendi

I live by myself in a small apartment, just outside the center of Lubumbashi (Katanga). As long as I’ve lived here, Bahati and her grandmother lived next door. We always greeted each other whenever we met in the corridors of the apartment complex, and sometimes Bahati’s grandmother invited me over for tea or to share a meal together. I could tell they both loved each other very much, although sometimes Bahati’s grandmother was overprotective of her. As the years went by, I got to know Bahati and the grandmother better and learned that Bahati had lost her parents in a car accident when she was only 10 years old. Her grandmother made a living by selling a few food items around the road, such as tomatoes, mangoes, charcoal, and onions. They had no other source of income, and they paid for Bahati’s school fees with whatever her grandmother sold.

Life was difficult for the two, I could tell, but I also saw two strong women, both with a firm belief in education, who never stopped hoping for a better future. I remember reading the newspaper one day, and through the thin walls that separated our apartments, I heard Bahati arrive home. Soon after, I heard her speak loudly, “What kind of life of this? I went to school thinking that when I get back home I will find something to eat but all my hope went in vain.” I put the newspaper back on the table in front of me and decided to go next door. After I locked the door behind me, I saw the grandmother leave the apartment with tears in her eyes. Bahati was sitting on the couch and told me about her struggles. I listened patiently for her to finish saying what she had to say. “In this life, sometimes you will not always find what you want. That’s part of life, unfortunately. “If you’re hungry, I can bring a couple of plates of food, I already prepared it at my place.”
“Thank you, Chris, for your kindness.”

When we finished eating, Bahati thanked me again and returned home.

Bahati completed both her primary and high school with good grades, and she invited me to go to the graduation ceremony. It was beautiful to see her receive her degree officially, and when the ceremony was over, Bahati ran to her grandmother to hug her.

“My granddaughter, you are indeed a blessing to me, and very proud of you!”

“Thank you so much, grandmother! I have reached this far because of your support and words of encouragement. You have been so good to me that is the reason why I have passed my class with a distinction.”

“Success comes from hard work, and you are working so hard and sometimes you do not sleep at night since you spend most of your time reading books.”

A few weeks later, the school Bahati attended received visitors who wanted to sponsor one of the female students. They told the headmaster they wanted to help girls who passed high school to study for a Bachelor’s degree in the United States of America.

The headmaster didn’t have any objections, but arrangements had to be done at the government level first. The sponsors left with the names of five girls who passed with distinction, Bahati among them.

A few days later, Bahati received a letter to study at a university in the USA. She was so excited and screamed, “God has answered my prayer, I can’t wait to see America and achieve my dreams.” Bahati’s grandmother thanked God saying, “God of widows and orphans is alive and he can do what no man cannot do.”

12 May, 2023