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A story I always hold with me is of a mother I met at my son Isaiah’s fun day. Her name is Mekonjo- a 27 year old college graduate working two jobs to keep her family going. She is a full time accounted at Ernest & Young, and a part time lecturer at Unam. She lives with her boyfriend Peter who is a stay home “tenderpreneur”, because of the current economic crisis the country is going through. Peter is also the father of her 10year old twins Angela and Angelo. One Monday she got home late in the afternoon from working the whole day, transporting Angela and Angelo to & from their extra murals, as lectures that evening was cancelled due to strikes at the university she had been teaching at. She arrived home and put pots on the stove to prepare dinner. The kids went bike riding with the neighbours’ kids and she found that time to be the perfect time to clean the house, as Peter too wasn’t home. She cleans up their room and finds open envelopes hidden in Peter’s socks drawer. She opens it and reads in a letter stating results of a 97% chance of a DNA paternity test her boyfriend had taken 5 months ago for a 12week year old baby boy. In the next letter she opens she finds out her boyfriend is also HiV+
Imagine!! Women sacrifice so much of themselves to keep their households alive, and that’s the crap they get in exchange. When I asked her what kept her going she said “strength” I didn’t understand, wait what! That’s it? Strength?
Mejondjo said “Strength is a power, a super power engraved in your veins by your creator. Strength is a very important component in one’s life, it’s what carries you into the next minute hour day and week. Without it getting up in the mornings on cloudy or fogged up days would be impossible. Facing battles with no strength is like going to war with no weapons.”
I sat there and thought to myself, as women I feel we are very quick to trust another and to give ourselves to them completely. At many times, we settle for less, not because there is no other option but because either we fear moving into anything past our comfort zone or because less is some type of addictive believe we accept because that’s what we think we deserve.
“Have you ever loved somebody so much that it hurt, and you are so deep in it that you fear losing yourself trying to get out? You sacrifice so much; your life, decisions, time, money, your reputation, your health just to in the end to be on the losing side of life, because we ignored our special ability to understand something, without the need for conscious reasoning” she went on to say to me as we watched the kids run up and down.
How can someone be so important in life that without them you feel so incomplete, I think that most heartfelt sorrow is whole heartedly loving and not being loved in return? When you think back to all the dreams that were sold to you, you start remembering how much of a stupid fool you were believing everything. . 1,2,5, 20,50,102 how many times Peter probably said to her he loves her true.
I pray to the God to strengthen me in times where I can no longer keep on keeping. To hold my head up and feet stable when trotting alongside the road to my dreams. He has me now. Peter has the power right now….he can kill me if he wants, which I think he is trying to because past 98 days I have felt like a dead woman walking, but I can never show it, or even really allow myself to feel it because my kids deserve a full on functioning mom and father in their lives. So I just have to hold on and be strong until they graduate and start their own homes.
I was torn and devastated because that is the reality of many women in our communities. The next time you see a woman in town with her kids, and she looks a mess. Don’t judge her. You don’t know the battles she is fighting. You do not know that she is out there holding on to nothing but strength.
Written by: Jane Kandetu