I was curious to find out what was happening, but I didn’t realize that they were unhappy. So, I reassured him, saying, “Yes, it’s okay; we can talk.” He responded by saying, “We can see that you’re not yourself lately. It’s as if someone has taken away your happiness. What’s going on?”
As I fell silent, he prodded further, asking, “Can you tell us more about yourself?” I then began to recount the circumstances of the conflict between my parents and me, as I mentioned in the story before this point. After listening to my story, they all started offering words of encouragement, saying things like, “God will help you, and everything will be right with your parents by His grace. We’re here for you. You’ll never be alone because God is on your side,” and so on. The senior pastor, however, had a different perspective. He told me, “Reconciliation with your parents will come with time. Be patient and trust in God.” As a teenager, I didn’t fully grasp his words, but as I matured, I began to understand their meaning.
I sought solace with the choir members as I had a deep love for music. Observing them sing during my first Sunday at the church made me realize that singing was my true passion and the main activity I wanted to engage in as a believer. This musical involvement taught me valuable life lessons, such as patience, forgiveness, humility, and the importance of serving others rather than being selfish. I learned to consider the needs of others, share what I had, and practice hospitality. Over time, these principles transformed me into a more ambitious, optimistic, and open-minded individual.
Despite my faith, I continued to be troubled by my family situation, which included hunger, pain, and the disappointment of being abandoned by my parents when I needed their support. They were upset with me, and I with them. While I had made mistakes as a young boy, I didn’t want to bear the burden of others’ mistakes at home, particularly my cousins, who had pressured me when I was young to shoulder responsibilities that weren’t mine. They didn’t support my choices in sports, lifestyle, music career, or studies and sought to impose their preferences on me. Nonetheless, I still loved and missed them but couldn’t return home.
During that period, I slept at the church and spent my days with close friends, often sharing meals with their families. This wasn’t easy, and I couldn’t help but notice other families happily together while I yearned for mine. Despite my potential, including my role as a basketball player on the junior team and my growing reputation as a singer in the church choir, I couldn’t fully develop these talents due to social and economic limitations in my country.
A persistent thought gnawed at me, driving me to prove myself and achieve importance in society. I conceived the idea of leaving my country in search of better opportunities to develop myself and build a new life. In my day, it was relatively easy for young people to cooperate, and a chance encounter with an old classmate provided an opportunity. He mentioned he was in Zambia, and I seized the moment to ask for his assistance in leaving the country, explaining my difficult circumstances. He agreed, and his uncle, a lorry driver, also agreed to help. I reached out to trusted friends who collected funds, clothes, and addresses of church places where I could find support.
Two days later, my classmate’s uncle and I traveled to Zambia, which shared a border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. The journey was relatively short, and upon arriving in Lusaka, I visited one of the addresses provided to me. There, the church welcomed me as a Christian brother from Congo. After meeting the senior pastor and sharing my plans, he encouraged me and introduced me to people who could help me pursue basketball. However, I soon encountered challenges as a foreigner with limited English proficiency and limited support for strangers.
Disheartened by my struggles, I returned to my true passion for singing and joined the church choir. Initially exciting, this role eventually became routine and stressful due to a lack of projects and jealousy among other musicians who resented my talent. Nairobi, a bustling city where everyone seemed busy with their own lives, exacerbated my sense of loneliness. I lacked the necessary connections to navigate the city’s complexities.
During this time, I spent most of my days locked in my room, ruminating on my life and feeling the weight of my isolation. Unable to attend church events or engage with others, my sense of hopelessness deepened. I even began to suffer from gastritis due to stress and poor nutrition.
My isolation persisted, as I had no friends to spend time with, both during the week and after Sunday worship. Each day, I returned home to solitude, reflecting on my life and feeling that my youth had been far from easy. I had dreams and ambitions, but my circumstances had prevented me from realizing them. My health deteriorated, and I grew increasingly despondent.
One day, I made the difficult decision to return to my homeland, seeking comfort and care from my biological family. I had been suffering from gastritis, and I couldn’t bear the pain any longer. I approached the senior pastor, explained my decision, and requested the church’s assistance with transportation. He promised to arrange it with the board.
After two weeks, I received the necessary funds, bid farewell to the congregation, and embarked on a journey back to my country. The long bus ride took us through Tanzania, where I faced the challenges of paying for everything, even water, as nothing came for free. In Tanzania, I relied on my limited savings to get by.
Finally, I crossed the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the sight of my homeland brought tears to my eyes. I was grateful to have made it back safely. Among my fellow travelers were people of various nationalities, including Congolese returning from Tanzania, tourists, and others. At the border in Kasumbalesa, the first district in southeastern Congo, I met a relative who provided assistance, and I also informed my mother of my return.
From there, I continued my journey to my parents’ home in Lubumbashi, the city where I had grown up. Their warm welcome, filled with love and emotion, moved me deeply. Reuniting with my family was like a long-lost child returning home. This moment felt spiritual, a reconnection of family ties, and it brought peace to my heart.
My family’s love and care during my illness were transformative. They helped me heal physically and emotionally. I rediscovered the importance of family values, learned about our culture, and reminisced about cherished memories from my childhood and teenage years.
Over time, I regained my health and found happiness, love, and joy in their presence. My family’s support and teachings about responsibility and leadership rekindled my sense of purpose. They reminded me that I was their legacy and that I could make a positive impact on the lives of others.
Reflecting on my journey, I came to understand that the power of love could restore a lost soul and rebuild fractured family bonds. Despite the challenges and distances that had separated us, family love had the strength to mend and reassure. Family is sacred.
Today, hostility, poverty, conflicting interests, and geographical distances continue to erode cherished family values in Africa. However, it is possible to reclaim and reinforce them. We must recognize that without the family, humanity would not exist, for it all began with a family in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1:28).
Please read part one by clicking on Part 1.
Please read part three by clicking on Part 3.
28 September, 2023