Chapter 1: Experiencing new life in Malawi
Do you think that tragedy can be a key to self-awareness? Here is a true story about a guy who changes his destiny.
She says “Wake up! Wake up fast, it is Monday, prepare for school. The food is ready on the table so make sure you wash your body first before taking breakfast.” These were the words Mujago’s mother spoke every morning even before greetings, because sleeping was Mujago’s favorite. His mother was very good at preparing chigumu. She only had one rule which was hard to follow but he could do it for the sake of the bread. She would say, “Go in the bathroom and clean the body before you eat your bread for breakfast.” There was no chance of escaping from the bathroom because Mujago and his brother had an aunt who made sure what was supposed to be followed was done on time. Aunt Solanje was the one taking him and the siblings to bathe, making them look smart before going to school. “Boys, why are you getting late? Gift and Andrew are already done, they are now heading to school,” Aunt Solanje would say. Mujago hated how they were compared with the neighbors’ kids, it made him and his brother look like they were not interested in school. Likewise, it pressured them to prepare for school at 7:00 in the morning.
The school bus was always ready outside of their fence to take them to school. With happy faces Mujago and his young brother ran towards the school bus without any worries as they were sure that the lunch box was already packed in their bags by Aunt Solanje and she never forgot to include some of the bread his mother prepared for breakfast. She knew that he loved that bread so much and also loved how other kids always asked for it at school. With other kids at school, the bread became his identity. Everyone knew him and his young brother as kids who bring chigumu with a different taste.
Ten years earlier in Burundi, Mujago’s country of origin, when he was eight months old, his parents decided to move from Burundi to seek food and a place to live with the family. Upon reaching Malawi, they started searching for life. In Burundi, his father was a teacher; he tried to continue this job while in Malawi. He got a chance with a job in the city of Lilongwe. They grew up in a happy family and somehow could forget that they were refugees since his father had a job in the city. The two brothers had a chance of going to a nice primary school in town and having breakfast before going to school and lunch in their bags. Time was going so fast that Mujago could not tell that he was growing since he was living a happy life. The family started growing, too, as their uncles from Burundi joined them in Malawi. One day, Mujago was playing with his brother in the living room, and their mother entered the house with a stranger. She introduced the man as their uncle and then Mujago hugged him and introduced himself. He said, “Hello, I am Mujago and that is my young brother, Keith, we are happy to meet you.” Afterwards, Keith gave his uncle a sweet since they were playing with some sweets.
As time passed, Mujago’s mother started a small business in the market of their community. She sold groceries and farming products in retail. The business helped them survive as it paid for the school fees and food and clothes while their father saved his money from teaching for future use. The family was improving daily and life was running smoothly for the kids.
But those were also the days Mujago knew that all days are not Sundays. Sometimes his parents misunderstood each other and fought. This did not happen much but when it happened, things did not end well. One day in the afternoon when Mujago and Keith were coming home from school, they heard their parents shouting at each other in the bedroom. As kids they were afraid to hear such noise coming from their parents’ room. Aunt Solanje and Uncle Oly tried to stop the fight by pulling Mujago’s parents apart while Mujago and Keith cried, hiding themselves in their bedroom. During the fight, they did not eat as well as they usually did, since family meals were not possible when their parents did not talk to each other. During the fight, everything could change. But the fight never lasted long and life always returned to normal.
Sometime in 2009, the third child was born which made everyone happy. They became Mujago, Keith, and Kent. But a few months later, thieves broke into his mother’s store and took every penny and everything in it. It was a big blow to the family and it made them go down. His parents were not able to buy the same items they used to buy, they stopped making breakfast and packing lunch boxes for school. Even worse, his father was fired soon after the robbery occurred. It was now the end of this family’s happiness. Of course, Mujago was very young but could feel something terrible had happened.
2 February, 2023