He lost his father at the age of seventeen. Life changed completely for the African Son at that rightful moment.
His father died a poor man, but very humble and for a reasonable cause. He joined the liberation struggle along with other men. Somewhere in the heat of war, he took his last breath.
His mates say he was a courageous fighter, but his body was never discovered. He went to war and never returned home, living behind his three orphans and old widow in a small village.
Masimba was the new head of the Tembo family. From this point on wards life became more difficult and harsh. Stuck in the vicious cycle of poverty.
Mr. Tembo, Masimba’s father, was a very strong and hard working man. He made sure his family survived through each day at any cost.
However, he was not a rich man. Not enough to send his children to school and become like other man’s children.
This did not stop him from giving them the best education that has more value as compared to the bookish education. His trio was morally upright. They learnt that the art of survival depends on hard work. This was the chain of survival:
You sweat first then you get paid, feed your stomach and live a peaceful life.
As such they grew up in a house that worked for everything they had. Although they did not have much, they were happy that way. Mr. Tembo was an inspirational man to his children, but he had to leave them and join his fellow comrades in the battle fields.
The night before his departure he had a long conversation with Masimba.
“Masimba, please come join me out here,” Mr. Tembo called out to his eldest son. He was sitting on a stool in the compound under the big, bright moon.
The sky was very clear and the moon milky white. The night was pregnant with silence which heralded the peace around the compound. You could hear a pin drop from a distance away.
“Ehoi baba ndiri kuuya!” (Okay father, I am coming!) Masimba responded from his hut. He immediately took to his feet and joined his father outside. He walked out and noticed his father and his stool at the center of the compound surrounded by the huts and a sweet breeze.
Masimba never bothered fetching himself a stool. He sat on the small patch of lawn with his legs folded. He looked up to his father as he talked to him for the next two hours or so. He never moved a bit, but paid all his attention to his father’s words. Such was the respect Mr. Tembo’s children had for him.
Mr Tembo began speaking to his son; “You see my son, I have brought you up to be a man so that you can be responsible. You understand the art of living life and surviving in this evil world.”
Masimba nodded his head and agreed with his father.
“It is quite unfortunate that we have not been privileged like other families. Their children know how to hold a pen and write like the white man’s son does.
“However, I believe you are more clever than most of them because you took the lessons I taught you. Now is the time you have to start contemplating all those lessons.”
Masimba’s face grew expressions that were full of confusion. He did not understand where his father was driving him to.
Mr. Tembo noticed his son’s confusion and smiled sarcastically and continued. “Don’t worry my son,” he said patting him on the shoulder. “If you only follow my teachings, you’ll never go wrong under the sun.”
“But father what are you talking about?” Masimba asked hoping to be saved from the confusion.
“Well Masimba, you know the state in which our country is standing. You have heard of the Chimurenga going on.
“Other comrades are fighting for the freedom of young folks like you and your siblings. The time has come that I also have to go and join the fight. Maybe one day we will conquer and our lives as peasants would improve.”
Masimba took a deep sigh. He had heard of how people were dying in the battle field. Guerillas were being bombed in their camps and caves everyday. Comrades were being tortured and left to die.
Was this the fate his father had decided to bring upon himself? How were they going to cope without him? Did he not consider how old their mother was and how small his young sister Chipo was?
Such are the questions that bombarded his mind, he dared not question his father’s decision. The fathers word was final and respected. So he sat back and listened to his father’s words for the night.
“This is the main reason I called you out Masimba. I want you to take care over headship over the family. You are in charge of all the on-goings that concern this family. I hope you can make me proud on that.”
There was a moment of silence. Masimba was sought the courage within him to accept the task. He had to make his father proud so he took up the challenge served before him.
His father congratulated him for such courage and bid him farewell as they slipped into their huts. They hoped to catch some goodnight sleep.