Zambia: I struggled to find happiness in my life

Zambia: I struggled to find happiness in my life

Date: November 24, 2014
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Normal 0 false false false EN-GB X-NONE X-NONE My name is Moira Namumba I was born in 1977 and raised in a loving family. I did my primary education in the late 80s, wrote grade seven examinations and qualified to grade 8 at a girls’ school in Luangwa District. When I was in grade 9 my father passed away. This was the time I knew what loss and grief felt like. My dreams of becoming a nurse were completely shuttered. I had to stop school as my mother could not afford sponsoring me. She was a housewife and only managed to provide food for the family. During that time I struggled to find happiness in my life.

When I was 19 years old, I got married and gave birth to my first child in 1997. During this period my husband was not in formal employment. When my child was old enough to be looked after by my mother, I decided to start night school where I would attend grade 8 lessons. However, my husband was not for the idea and ordered me stop. I tried to convince him but he did not listen. I later started a business where I used to buy goods in other towns and later resale them in Lusaka. There was a time I was away from home for a week but when I came back home everything was stolen from our house. I questioned my husband what had happened but he did not give me a satisfactory answer. One morning when I was cleaning the house, I found some beads on the floor. I knew that as a tradition some Zambian women wear beads around their waist. I was scared to confront my husband, instead I got the beads and took them to his sister who questioned him on my behalf. After he was quizzed he came home angry and began using abusive language.

In the year 2000 he got a job in South Africa as a Technician. I was so happy and we even talked as a loving couple the day he was leaving. He told us that we were going to relocate as soon as he had settled. I was so taken by his sweet talk, but this turned out to be all lies as he went and forgot about us for a year and eight months. I asked myself why he was so self-centred that he could not think of his unemployed wife and daughter back in Zambia. He did not care whether or not we had a meal on the table. Despite all this, I moved on with my life and continued with my business to survive. One day my husband came back home unannounced. I could not help crying as tears kept rolling down my chicks. I asked him what offence had I committed to deserve the misery. Since I loved him so much, I welcomed him.

He left for South Africa again and left me pregnant. It always happened that every time he came back he would impregnate me. When we had our third child he invited me over to South Africa and he explained the reasons for his behaviour. He told me he met a woman who became his girlfriend, but only used her because he wanted citizenship. I did not believe his story so I asked people in the neighbourhood and discovered that he had lied to me. When he found out that I had known the truth, he dragged me to some strange place. I was not at peace because my life was in danger. However, after a few days I managed to escape.

I left South Africa with the help of Police officers and started living with my mother in Zambia. We stayed for a year without communicating with my husband, he later came back home and we went on separation. The separation did not last as we soon reconnected and stayed as husband and wife again. He stopped buying food in the house and whenever I asked him we would end up fighting. He would beat me in the presence of our children. Our kids were not free in their father’s house. He would intimidate, insult and beat them. He never had time for me, he could leave home in the morning and come back at midnight. Sometimes he would come when I was fast sleep and wake me up to prepare a meal for him and have sex with him. I knew he had multiple sexual partners so I would tell him to use a condom but he always refused. I started feeling a sharp pain whenever I was urinating. I went to the hospital to get tested only to realise that I had contracted an STI. I asked him to get tested but he did not take it lightly. He started accusing me that I got the infection from someone else.

He went and told his mother that I was sick then his mother called me for questioning. I went to her home and when I got there I found that she had prepared some traditional medicine. I refused to take the traditional medicine and I went back home. My husband came back accusing me that I did not respect his mother. When I tried to explain why I refused to take the traditional medicine he pushed me so hard that I fell on the floor and hurt my arm. This time I did not tolerate him. I reported him to the police and he was summoned. To my surprise the police officers advised us to reconcile and continue raising children together. I was so disappointed with their decision and when we got home he mocked me. I got fade up with the kind of life so I left him, took the kids with me and started staying with my mother. I reported him to the victim support unit where he was told to support our children but he never did. We used to have two meals a day and he never assisted me in anyway yet he knew that I had no source of income.

Later, I informed him that I wanted to get my clothes and other assets that I had left in our matrimonial home. My intention was to sell them and raise capital but to my surprise he burnt everything that belonged to me. I phoned one of my relatives in South Africa to help look for a job as a maid. After a few months she got me a job as a community school teacher. I left for South Africa and left my children with my mother. Now I had an income of my own and I would send money to my mother. Whilst in South Africa, I received a call from my church that I was offered a scholarship to go and train as a community development officer in the United States. I came back home to prepare for the trip but my husband followed me at my mother’s home and asked for my return. I was not sure of what decision to make but as a person in love, I decided to forget everything that had happened between me and my husband. I sacrificed to quit my job in South Africa to join my husband and wait to travel to the United States. Unfortunately, the scholarship did not materialise and only God knows why.

I paid dearly for the decisions I made. My husband became more abusive. I blamed myself for everything because I knew him better than anyone else yet I gave him another chance. I reported him to YWCA but still he did not change. I was now ready to let go and move on with my life. In the year 2012, I filed for divorce in the local court. The court asked him to explain his behaviour and he only could say that I was not doing my role as a wife, and I never used cook for him. The court granted us divorce and ordered him to pay twelve thousand kwacha for burning my property. He was also ordered to support the children every month. We finally divorced on the 21st of September 2012 and surprisingly he had a white wedding with another wife on the 6th of October 2012.

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

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