If you saw me in 2002, in the left picture, selling second hand clothes – Salaula – at Maramba Market in Livingstone – I bet you would never picture me in the right picture, taken a few years later.
Neither would I!
I am not saying anything, but if this transformation doesn’t mean anything, then Kaya.
Ala I won’t lie, nachoka patali so when you see me ‘rant’ about education, just know that it is the only thing that saved me from poverty.
When you see me “flaunt”, bear with me – sometimes I am still in disbelief. I sometimes drive to the bush alone so that I can scream to the heavens!
When I walked around Livingstone selling Salaula – mu field – I had no ray of hope for the future. I only looked forward to going to school because in school, we were equal – the rich and poor got schooled alike. The teachers told us that if we worked hard enough we could leave the hood and maybe live a better life.
I never knew a flushing toilet until in later life – because I grew up using pit latrines.
We lived in a three roomed house- sleeping on the floor in the living room.
Electricity was a luxury – we lived without it for years – not because of loadshedding, no, but because we had no money to pay for ZESCO.
We didn’t have running water at home – we got water from a communal tap – and it was okay.
When I hear people say they are “hustling” I laugh out loud.
Do you know what hustling is?
Ever been to a market trying to make a sale so desperately because everyone at home relies on it to buy a ka Pamela on your way back home, YET, still fail? Knock off without a penny and walk with shoulders low not because you are hungry, but because you have let down everyone home – and the house will be full of stomachs rumbling because you all sleeping hungry! But you still wake up the next day to try again, and again and again – Building resilience!
I know hustling, because I have been a hustler – the Most Complete!
It’s nothing I would wish on anyone!
But education, it is everything I would pray for everyone.
I don’t know nor never knew privilege – I wish I did have privilege.
The greatest privilege, if any, has been an opportunity to go to school. And that, I will wish for you and yours.
My school in the compound moved me from Libuyu to UNZA, from UNZA to Sheffield in England, from Sheffield to Oxford. And from Oxford to getting a job at the London School of Economics in Central London to having an opportunity to advise governments on policy!
Everything you see, I am, I built, I made, I imagined, I created, sometimes – most times actually – I failed too. But all I am, only education can explain it!
But truth be told, when all is said and done, however, Mulungu aliko, elo niwabonse – it is all God’s plan!!!
I know I have said this many times, I apologize, but I love my story, and I pray that one child out there one day gets to tell their story too – on the power and importance of education.
I will keep telling mine.