Zambia: Ms Warrior

Date: December 1, 2014
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I was born out of an early marriage; my father and mother could not take proper care of me and that is why my grandfather, a police officer, took me so that he could send me to school. My parents remained in the village in Western Province. I had a troubled childhood as my grandmother did not like me.

My grandfather was transferred to Solwezi in Northern Western Province and I was enrolled at Solwezi Basic School. I was not the only sibling as my grandfather supported 14 children. After I wrote my grade 7 examinations, I qualified for grade 8 but I did not go to school for a year as there was no money and I had to wait for my turn. I went back to school and wrote my Junior Secondary examinations and made it to Senior Secondary. Again I could not go to school and I stayed at home for a year and then I requested that I go and live with an uncle who did not have many responsibilities.

While I was staying at home I had to do all the household chores, cooking for 17 people, washing and fetching water. When I went to Mansa to stay with my uncle, I continued with school until I completed it. Even though I completed it, I did not perform very well so I was not accepted at any of the colleges. I started working as a sales lady selling talk-time at a booth and then got a job as a security guard. I did this in an effort to raise money to go back to school, but my dreams were shattered when I was sexually harassed at the office and when I tried to report it I was sacked.

I decided to go back to the village, but I learnt that my mother was in a mental hospital as she was mentally ill and my father was an alcoholic and had remarried. I saw my siblings for the first time. I was so frustrated that I could not go back to Solwezi or Mansa where I was brought up, I decided to stay in the village and help my young ones. I later got married to a village champion who used to drink and smoke dagga. We stayed with my in-laws. He had no fear, he would smoke and insult me and sometimes he would beat me and undress me with his parents looking on. He sometimes went to Namibia to do some work, and when he came back he would use that money for alcohol and dagga.

When life became difficult I got a job at the clinic, but that annoyed him. He would follow me to my work place and fight. He would accuse me of having sexual affairs with the clinic officers. One day he followed me and fell and that is how he broke his leg and we were transferred to Livingstone Hospital for treatment. I stayed at the hospital nursing his broken leg for months with no one to help. I would beg in order to survive. He is still incapacitated and I am the one taking care of him.

*Not her real name

This story is part of the “I” Stories series produced by the Gender Links News Service encouraging the view that speaking out can set you free.

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