As Chimuka shuns conventional African living for the dream of higher education and a liberated life, he decides to follow Sara. In the midst of a struggle for dignity and pride, he soon finds himself immersed in a maelstrom of cultural clashes, social opprobrium, and personal upheaval. Torn between the roles of lover, friend, breadwinner, and mother, Sara is also lost in her own tumultuous battles. After five years together in Zambia and Kenya, the two finally part, but loyally write hundreds of letters to each other that maintains their emotional connection despite the distance between them.
Thirty years later, Chimuka convinces Sara to meet him under the shade of a fig tree and awaits the conclusion of his unforgettable odyssey from the heart of Africa into the soul of the woman he has always loved as his mother.
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The Father of Andromeda
By Birgit Berggreen Dixon Kelvin Chimuka Sikabota
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2011 Birgit Berggreen and Dixon Kelvin Chimuka Sikabota
All right reserved.
Chapter OneZambia 1979—1985
Thirty years earlier, when I came to Zambia with my two children to work in his village, he wrote his first letters to my parents. He was seventeen then, and obsessed with an absolutely uncritical enthusiasm for the older woman he had only just met.
* * *
Chief Mapanza area Zambia Africa
25 December 1979
Dear Mr and Mrs Green,
I, a perfect stranger, must begin to offer you sincere apologize for writing to you, but there is no other way to handle this situation.
Before I go any further, let me introduce myself.
My name is Dixon Kelvin Chimuka Sikabota. By nationality I am a Zambian. By race I am a black African. By tribe I am a Tonga, which is one of the earliest tribes to settle as farmers in Zambia about 1200 AD. Tonga is a Bantu tribe originally known for piety, wisdom and power of settling disputes without weapons.
My home is in a small village called Nalube in Chief Mapanza area in the southern province of Zambia. My father is an old man born in 1897. When he was young he used to work in Boer farms in South Africa and Rhodesia. Later he became a farmer and so is the rest of my family. The main crop is maize and our stable food is nshima made of mealie-meal from maize. We also grow vegetables, and we keep cattle and poultry.
I was born in my village Nalube in 1962, brought up at the same spot throughout my childhood and I was happy with my life. I started at the nearest primary school in 1970 where I did my grade one up to seven. In grade seven we sat for examination, and if you happened to pass this examination, you were allowed to continue your secondary school education.
Luckily enough I managed to pass and I started my academic education at St. Marks secondary school in Mapanza. This is where I am now. I have been here for three years already and these days I am waiting for another important examination results, which can allow me to continue for another two years and thus complete my secondary academic education. I have been studying politics privately because politics will be my career in future. Anyway, I do not find life easy at all, because I am still struggling for my personal development.
That was a brief history about my life.
I was trying to look for a job to do while waiting for results of my exam, but all ended up in a failure because the country is in division of corruption, tribalism and nepotism. That is to say, all is not well, it is just a struggle for survival and deep in the bottom of my heart is fear. It's fear of being a failure in life. But I have experienced that fear is a journey. Fear is a terrible journey—sorrow at least is an arrival.
Please keep me in your memories, remember I am a young future politician of the world as well as a freedom fighter. I am here to fight oppressors of the black man in Africa, eulogizing people convicted of terrorism and subversion and sabotage and I do not care for death or arrest. I am determined for the liberation of the black man. We are on a stage of the world where every person has a part to perform, but mine is a sad one. It should not worry you though, because I am just experiencing life.
It is love, peace, unity and development, which I hope to achieve. Those who hate let them hate, that is their own sin, to weep is a waste of time. It is time to grab arms and aim at the blue-eyed enemy who is lurking in the bushes of our motherland. Those who hate my colour, let them hate, it comes under God's judgement.
The reason for me, a perfect stranger, to write to you, is that you are the parents of my new friend, Sara, and the grandparents of my young brother Jesper and my little sister, Line.
Sara has been quite an experience to me, and her behaviour has affected me in a strange way. My belief up to now has been, that it is always difficult for people of different race and nationalities to become real friends, but she has given me another experience and I now call her a typical friend. I assume she must have mentioned me in her letters to you, since you kindly passed forward a greeting to me. This personal greeting gave me the courage to write this letter to you.
It happened several months ago, that I met your daughter at the secondary school where I am learning. At her age of thirty-three she has already acquired a towering status in the hearts of young blacks and elders in my village and I have been drawn to her.
There is one funny thing I have learnt from her behaviour: she is too careless to use words when she is not in a good mood. However I am managing with her changes.
At my first meeting with her, I was aware of me talking to someone extraordinary, and later on yet another aspect of her mind and personality was revealed: her awareness of her ideological position makes her tough and very disciplined in her dealings with people—and she understands her enemy.
Sometimes my friend looks very stupid and undecided in her actions and responses to me, but her normal standard behaviour is excellent. She is not just a mere lover of peace, unity and development, she is states-woman, the likes of which I will not see in a long time when she leaves me. I have loved her very dearly and the pain of knowing that she will leave me in a few years to come will not vanish. I have never met a young woman like her of another nationality, creed, colour and beliefs, a typical expresser, a good listener with a marvellous sense of humour, a dedicated political female friend and a mother at the same time.
My association with your daughter has changed my life—and hers!
The boy of two homes, of two worlds, an African child in Africa, the home of Man.
* * * 1 April 1980
Many thanks for your kindness to send me such a delightful thing as this book Fairy Tales, by H.C. Andersen who lived 1802-75. I understood your letter very clearly and I read it with smiles, as if I was going to talk to you physically. How very kind of you to remember me in Africa who is struggling in this world of science and technology, in the age of violence. Your delightful gift was received by both hands and gave me much pleasure.
I have found stories of life in Denmark 100 years ago with great distinction between the rich people and the poor ones. The Porter's Son, or The Gardener and the Squire. Surely it was really interesting. I found stories with great humour telling how difficult it is to combine intellect and emotions, science and art like in The Puppet Show Man. I found many interesting fairy tales of love: The Naughty Boy, God Amour, God of Love – the one we all meet sooner or later! And of Snow Man, who has a longing in his heart for the stove inside the warm house. And the lovable Dad's Always Right is one of the most interesting stories I have read so far. Whenever I remember this story I laugh, and I don't feel like a stranger any more. I have found that people are the same inside all over the world. I thank you for sending me such an interesting book.
Just a few lines to let you know that I passed my examinations in the end of 1979 and next year I will be completing my five years secondary school. After that I would like to go to the University of Zambia. I would like to be a medical doctor.
* * * 5 June 1981 It was kind of you to do such an excellent thing to send me a wristwatch. Well, I come to believe that life is a game of bad moments and good ones, and when I saw the watch I knew this was one of the happiest!
With me here at school I am just enjoying my studies, busy doing some practices in chemistry and physics in the laboratory. I work very hard for my final examination in November, looking forward to another step in life.
I thought about you when our teacher in history was talking about Denmark during the Second World War. I would like to remind your young people not to spoil their precious time and the lucky chance before it's too late, the world is changing like a chameleon, we never know what comes tomorrow. I think lives of human beings are like the ones of animals living in the bush, birds living in the trees, fish living in the sea and other creatures in the world. Those creatures are lucky but sometimes they fall into traps, as human beings do too, and they feel hunger and pains as human beings. Among them some could feed well today and become hungry tomorrow because no condition is permanent.
I believe that this world is not mine, I am just a passenger passing by.
Here in Zambia is winter and it's becoming cold. I suppose in Denmark it is now summer, if I am not mistaken.
* * *
25 September 1981
During the holiday I went to Nalube village to help my old people to shell maize for selling in order to afford clothes, shoes, sugar, salt, transport and money for school fees.
I tried to buy second hand clothes for the poor in the village, although I know that I am also poor. My heart is filled with compassion whenever I see the dying old people without help. Surely, although they say Zambia is a socialist country, sure I don't believe it, they are just blinding us. They don't care for the lame or for the blind. Whenever I think of it, it drags my eyes into floods. My heart is really moved when I see my old people having hard times of getting decent clothing.
I also had a plan to open a small library where those unlucky friends, who were not offered places in schools, can read the few books I have been collecting from here and there.
My last term examination results were good, although in some subjects I didn't find it easy to solve the problems. I am now busy preparing for my final general school certificate examination in November and December.
It is very hot in Mapanza nowadays and to study is difficult because heat makes you sleepy.
I am worried about this threatening war between Zambia and South Africa. Immediately after writing our last examination in December, the military cars will come to collect us and take us for tough military training for six months, and I fear war may break out and we will be the first victims. But as a man I must not get worried, it's just a matter of preparation under God's care. As a liberator for my other suffering brothers and sisters, I must face it.
* * *
Lusaka, the cap ital city of Zambia
1 July 1982
I write this letter in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, where I went in search for employment after finishing my secondary school in Mapanza.
Perhaps I haven't told you about my examination results. Surely, I did a bit well. I got a full general school certificate recommended internationally, but unfortunately I didn't qualify for my profession to study medicine. I was disqualified with only one subject. I misfired mathematics, but I am planning to go for it again and have a good pass.
One surprising thing I noticed recently is this: There were four other boys in my class, and definitely they did not pass the final examination, but to my surprise they have been sponsored to study abroad in different fields, whilst some of us, with the right qualifications, we are just left like waste materials. Through good investigations I discovered that the top man in that company, which sponsored them, was their relative. I have come to understand that qualifications for employment, or for scholarships abroad, here in Zambia is according to the number of bosses you have in the government companies—but what about some of us who have no one? The answer is: we are the victims of poverty, disease and hunger. What surprises me is that Zambia has become a society of classes—we are no longer one.
Another amazing thing I have noticed is, that those who have what they need for their lives are being given more, and some of us who have little for our lives, our needs are being taken away, and we remain with nothing. When I see corruption, due to nepotism, rising so rapidly, surely it leaves me with no words.
Now, what I have to say is, all is not well in Zambia. We, the spectators, see the ship steering in the wrong course and I hope there will be changes or else it is a disaster. I still keep on going with my struggles for existence. We shall end where we shall end—nobody knows, only the Creator, it is really beyond my thinking capacity
While I was waiting for results of my final exams I thought of getting a job in order to get a little money for buying clothes, and for transport when I go searching for jobs, but I failed. I am still moving from place to place in search for employment, thinking of your daughter. She is a woman I will never forget, she is no longer separate from the pulsation my heart.
Dixon Kelvin Chimuka Sikabota
Cousin Gordon's farm
In December 1982 Chimuka is still in Lusaka searching for employment while Sara is preparing to leave her house in Mapanza, hoping to see Chimuka once more before she leaves Zambia.
* * *
Mkushi 20 September 1983
I write this letter in Mkushi in the central province of Zambia and I sincerely apologize for a long silence due to circumstances beyond my human control.
During my relentless search for a better living, which hardly gave me an hour to think normally, it worried my heart and troubled my mind and I failed to communicate with you. It has been a grim struggle on my part.
I felt uneasy when I arrived in Mapanza hoping that I would find you and I heard that you had left three days before. When entering the yard of your house, strange faces met me, and on the veranda a woman's voice greeted me. I looked through the front door, hoping that I could see you, but all in vain. I was told that you had left Zambia. The place was transformed into a strange land, as if this was not the same place I used to sprawl around. The whole village had changed, I felt like a drunken giant walking with limbs of a mosquito, realizing you were nowhere to be seen. I knew you had gone to another country, but consolatory I knew you were still at the same planet as I and under the same sun and sky.
It makes my heart warm to think of the beautiful days we had. I re-read your letters and this leaves my mouth with no words, I cannot tell how grieved I am now missing you. I try to imagine that one day we shall be together, although I know I still have tough times to undergo. I tell you, some days I neither have the appetite to eat nor talk, my mind is lost in space, and heavy thoughts gnaws my little brain: how does this human spirit work? I really cannot understand the work of God.
In all there is no easy task. You eat in darkness with great frustrations and afflictions, because of the relentless search for better living, and you do it with toilsome labour and pains in the heart. Naked a man comes from his mother's womb, and as he comes so he departs. What does he gain from his labour to carry in his hand at last?
I came to understand that love of a fellow being is the wisest tactic to do because all will pass, yet love will remain, it's the spiritual love that we hope for. Anyone who is among the living has hope. I say so because hope is the last thing we lose. Even a live dog is better off than a dead lion. The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, they have no further reward and even their memory is forgotten. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished, never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun. What I have partially understood is, whatever your hand find to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, the destiny of every living being, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. I tell you, it makes me crazy when I think about all these complications.
With me here the struggle continues, and I see crowds of men in search for a better living, for wealth, better knowledge or wisdom—and I am one of them.
Let me deal with some other major happenings that I encountered in my endeavours from the time I left school, which contributed to my silence. From here you can understand what experiences, bad and good, I underwent.
Excerpted from The Father of Andromeda by Birgit Berggreen Dixon Kelvin Chimuka Sikabota Copyright © 2011 by Birgit Berggreen and Dixon Kelvin Chimuka Sikabota. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsPart one – Zambia 1979—1985....................1
Cousin Gordon's farm....................11
Part two – Kenya 1985—1991....................43
Accounts Clerk National Certificate....................105
Part three – Zambia 1992—2002....................143
Part four – Zambia 2004—2008....................181
A Christmas card....................183
Face to face at last....................285
Part five – Under the fig tree 2008—2009....................297
Words and expressions in Tonga, Kisii, Swahili and Zulu language....................339
Notes on monetary values....................349