A few weeks ago a very strong 33 year old single mom contacted us to share her life story. She was born and raised in Namibia and has a wonderful handsome son. Although she has experienced several devastating hardships she decided to move on and has come a long way since. She truly is a survivor and a victor!
This is her story.
Where and how did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Gobabis, a small town on the east of our beloved Namibia. Small and in my day a racist town. As it turns out, I was an A student in my primary school, because of all the abuse at home I could only escape into my books and thus was good at school, bad at socialising though.
Despite all the challenges of school and home I loved my books and moreover I loved netball. I was the only black girl in my age group for the first two years of my secondary school. It was fun and educational. On sports trips we would travel with the rugby team and I got to realise that I wasn’t spoiled, for example I didn’t have any snacks, or small change to buy a sweet, just my clean shoes, socks and a proud heart. My team mates were there for me and my mom did her outmost best to squeeze in a juice or an apple. In real essence we did not have much, we barely managed.
In my grade 10year, we had a psychologist come to our school and we had to pay a fee of N$250-00 to get a psychometric assessment done on us, the top ten of each class. And as it turns out psychology was in my scope among others, and since then it became a passionate drive for me to pursue that.
What else would you like to tell our readers about your childhood?
As a young Namibian, Otjiherero lady I have been exposed to two cultures, firstly my culture which is the Otjiherero tradition of vast beauty and pain and secondly the modernisation culture – the white culture as it would be known by my people.
Like many ladies everybody has a sad story and the real tragedy is when one does not grow from your tragedy but marvel in it and gets lost in all sorts of addictions and crazy behaviours. This story is about me. The pain that I had to keep inside of me and that I had to hide with a smile and makeup.
This is me and in some of the events I will use some strong metaphors that I was told in my most painful moment, by my dear beloved family or friends.
I was born many 30something moons ago and I am the eldest of four children and the only girl. So for the longest time I thought I was a boy and I never understood why my dolls were always run over or shot or killed in the most heinous manners by my siblings. I laugh as I think of it but the realisation came to me when I actually got my periods and then I was told why I was different and not a boy. Shocking and sad and true. Too much for a teenager to handle, but better than my childhood.
I was an A student and my father was a teacher at my primary school. He was so proud of me and I hated him so much. 80 percent of my time with dad was basically when I had to help mom with concealing the punch or bite marks with make-up on her body or choosing a non-revealing outfit for her. Because I was so smart and strong – strong girls don’t cry. So the story continues for the rest of my high school life. I was strong and lonely and I found comfort in Asterix and Obelix comics. I would laugh out loud and I truly found my happy space and bubble. I love their journeys. Till this day.
I will not bore you with much of my life but some strong events that shaped me and that defined my strong yet fragile character. I have drifting so much for the past twelve years of my life through love, pain, judgement and insecurity. These are some of the moments that changed me… for the strong person I am today.
You have experienced several sexual assaults. What has given you the strength to move on?
I met this wonderful gentleman in a certain part of my life and we truly hit it off well. We got close and had a stormy yet meaningful relationship. As it goes we had our first argument over something (which I don’t really remember now). As we were arguing he said something that truly struck a chord. He said ‘STOP BEING A VICTIM’.
In that moment, I had a flash of all the times in my life that I WAS a victim and how I never saw myself as one. I saw myself as a victor, in the face of whatever trauma I would be going through I would always say ‘it happened so just move on’. And in this moment it really hurt me to hear that –‘stop being a victim’.
I was sexually assaulted by a client at my workplace where I almost got raped; I had a breakdown like never before and nearly suicidal as well. During therapy I had unlocked some memories of which protected me from a painful childhood and I remembered that I was nearly raped twice by the age of 11. By a family member and by a friends’ older brother. The horror. Yet I moved on and never really acknowledged that I was a victim.
I moved some 1300km from home and I joined a local church there. Within the first year, I was raped by someone from the congregation and to my horror, I couldn’t even bring myself to report this. I cried myself for the next three days or so. I had various painful moments about how unfairly I was treated and how much I had lost, monetary and emotionally and yet I never really allowed myself to be a victim but a survivor, and for the first time I realised this. I am a survivor and a victor.
In that moment I cried. I cried like never before and the argument came to a dead still and I allowed myself to be a victim, if only but for a minute or two, I was a victim. And then I cried even harder that I had overcome so many hurtful unfair moments in my life and yet I was strong and I had either cut these people out of my life or moved on or I had completely forgiven them.
So I was never a victim until I heard those words and for but a minute or two, I was a victim and I moved on and I embraced myself for the strong woman I am.
Omurumendu kapurua… what does that mean?
This literally translates ‘a man is not questioned’.
I stand in my room overlooking the outside view and because of our disagreement I stopped crying and still I needed some clarity on why you could hurt me like this. How can you claim you love me and then deceit me by promising me the world and yet you are getting married to someone else in the next month. And I am pregnant by you. How???
When I posed this question it turned out to be a waste of time, energy and tears. I went home to see my mother at our hometown and cried more and more. Loving him more and more yet paining more and more. My mother simply told me ‘omurumenu kapurua’. As long as he takes care of you and still communicates with you then he still loves you. There are more women who have less than you and who are hoping they had a caring man like mine.
I was dumbfounded. A man like mine… He was just my boyfriend and soon to be someone else’s man and for some reason there was a grey area that I was missing to see and that my mom failed to see as well. Again a waste of time, energy and tears. When you question a man for clarity it is called an argument when he questions you for clarity it is called understanding. I am still lost.
So basically in the Otjiherero culture one does not question a man, you accept what is being given and taken from you as a woman, because there is someone else in a worse off position. But mom it still hurts. I love you but I hate the culture that makes me feel like I am a piece of furniture. As a woman I can’t even call my boyfriend by name, it’s the biggest sin ever, yet he can call me muatje –literally meaning ‘child’, which is culturally accepted and the norm. I am not a woman but a child to any man, except my son. And there it goes again…why? Oops – omurumendu kapurua.
In essence culture keeps us grounded and humble. That what we are exposed to shapes us mostly until such a decision when one decides to take a stand, say no to some cultural believes.
What are your plans and dreams for the future?
I went on to study psychology at the University of Namibia and I am currently a registered Psychological Counsellor, inspiring to do my Masters but not sure where yet, meaning I am currently vigorously looking for scholarships for my clinical psychology. I do a lot of motivational talks with school groups on addiction, teenage pregnancy, soft skills and so on. And I love it. I also do therapy and career guidance.
I am not married, and not committed at the moment but very hopeful. I want to start a campaign called Here4Her with a friend, which is aimed at helping the girls in the rural school on getting reusable sanitary pads. I have observed that the girls are either missing out on school when they are on their period, using unhygienic items and thus get infections. I want to keep the girl child in school and I want to raise enough funds or get funding to buy these pads, which is are not manufactured in my country at all.
Our tragedies define our character. It’s never easy to be in a painful situation and yet those are the crutches of our lives. I have had wonderful people who were significant at various moments in my life and I have a few now helping me hold the fort. I love them. I respect them and I will always cherish them.
Is there anything special you would like to tell our readers?
There is a saying – no pain no gain… it might be so wrong in this context but in actuality I am who I am because of all the pain I have encountered. I can now make some decisions because of the ones I had made in life earlier.
Life throws you lemons and you should most definitely make lemonade out of it. I am not perfect, far from it but because I love deeply, I hurt deeply. I am a rough diamond in the making. Do not be shy to be your own person. Be your own idol. Create your own destiny and always always have a goal in life. Be better and compete with yourself in life.
A big thank you for sharing your inspiring life story with us!
© 2016 Anonymous, Namibia