Jemu-See

He has a beard that covers half his face. His scalp has gone completely bald in the middle. He has yellow stained teeth. His name is James (read JEMU-SEE).

James has a mega-family. He has eight children. EIGHT. Eight children, plus him and the wife…that’s TEN people to feed! And by then, the wife was pregnant with the ninth baby. The couple was in love with the fantasy of having lots of children without considering the actual reality of raising them. This family was impoverished; they lived in heartbreaking poverty.

Their children walked around in bare feet, in old clothing which had turned brown. Brown, the color of poverty. They had potbellies. Overwhelmed by the number of children they had, they assigned the raising of the younger ones to the older children. There was so little food in the house. If the children wanted more, they had to work for it or simply do without. So they stole. Except the small kids who couldn’t walk by then, all the others stole. How else would they survive, if they didn’t steal to supplement what Daddy and Mommy brought home?

James and his wife didn’t have enough to provide for their children’s rudimentary needs. James survived by working for other people, who would either pay him in cash or food which wasn’t even enough. When he was paid in cash, he would hold it with both hands, like it’s brittle or like it’s a liquid that could flow through his hands. He would grin, showing his stained teeth, that he looked like a kid again.

Their house was too small that I wondered how they would fit in and the sleeping arrangement. The house had a roofing that leaked and almost falling in. The iron sheets were rusted and so worn-out that one would think they were just old newspapers.

 

Poverty is a global challenge. According to Gallup World, in 2013, the 10 countries with the highest proportion of residents living in extreme poverty were all in sub-Saharan Africa. Extreme poverty is defined as living on $1.25 or less a day. In 2010, 414 million people were living in extreme poverty across sub-Saharan Africa. According to the World Bank, those living on $1.25-a-day accounted for 48.5 percent of the population in that region in 2010. And approximately one in three people living in sub-Saharan Africa are undernourished. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimated that 239 million people (around 30 percent of the population) in sub-Saharan Africa were hungry in 2010. This is the highest percentage of any region in the world. In addition, the U.N. Millennium Project reported that over 40 percent of all Africans are unable to regularly obtain sufficient food.

 

To some, the most basic necessities such as food and water may not be available tomorrow. A simple latrine exists nowhere near one’s home. And going to bed hungry is a given.

Is there a solution?

 

Back to James. One afternoon, a guy was carrying fish from the market (to I don’t know where). It was during that time when bodabodas weren’t allowed on the main road. The guy passed by a policeman, and he rushed at full tilt. As he was trying to run from the policeman chasing him, he fell off the bodaboda. He hurriedly tried to pick up the fish and put them back into the basket. To his bad luck, James was passing by…and God knows the last time he had ate some fish! He grabbed one big fish and took off.

The bodaboda guy ran after him. And the policeman, who had just got there, ran after them. James carrying the fish was zipping between houses, children and chicken getting out of his way. As the guys raced in the neighborhood, the neighbors joined in…making noise all the way (Cyubububuuuu…mumufate, mumufateee!) James ran past our house, all running after him. I don’t know where they got running or if they are still running!

James stole whenever the opportunity presented itself. Everyone in the neighborhood avoided him. The neighbors claimed he had come to settle there after he was chased from where he was staying before, cause of theft. The couple had more children than they could reasonably provide for. Stealing was an option. To stay afloat.

 

This brings me to the question: why does any couple really need EIGHT children unless they are literally producing superheroes? They don’t. No one needs or should have that many kids. How would two people even be capable of dedicating adequate time to each of that many children in order for each one to be happy and healthy?

I believe James and his wife are still producing children en masse.

 

jj

 

 

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I learn a new lesson

It’s a Saturday morning. A beautiful morning with the warm rising sun. We are at Gisenyi.
His sister calls and through choked words tells him to Come Home. He asks why but she hangs up on him.
Two words popped up on the screen of his phone: She’s gone”
He showed me the text. Suddenly there wasn’t enough breathable air.
He was destroyed. He stood there, rooted to the ground. I saw his world turn darker than I ever imagined it would be. It’s terrible to love something that death can touch. She broke his heart. She discolored his life. She left his soul yawning with a hunger that will never be satiated.

Coping with the loss of a loved one is one of the hardest challenges that many of us face. The shock and grief that consumes you after you lose someone is overwhelming. It feels like you have fallen into a deep hole and will never be able to get out. It seems like everything has been turned upside down.
No one never gets over the loss they’ve experienced, but they can get through it. You have been changed by the loss, but you can learn how to survive, even grow, from the challenge.

I thank God that my parents are alive, but I worry a lot about when they will die because they won’t always be there. There is no reason known to me that my friend’s mum and/or dad is absent from this life and mine are present. It’s all grace. From God. Unmerited. I don’t deserve it but I’m grateful.
I pray that they both live long enough to see their grandkids. I pray that they live long enough to make them even prouder of me than they seems to already be.

Last month my friend sent me a text on Whatsapp…

“Hey, you remember JM”
“The cute girl with huge hips, in class Yellow. Yes, I remember her”
“She died”

I was like WHAAAT? I stared at the message like forever…
What could have possibly killed that young beautiful girl? I couldn’t believe it.
I logged in on Facebook, to try find more about her death. There was nothing. Few days after her passing, her TL was flooding with eulogies. Beautiful ones. I took the time to read each one of them. Everyone talked about her kindness, her big heart, how sad and heartbroken they were…
To cut the story short, I was amazed. It got me thinking: when I’m gone, how will I be remembered?
JM lived a wonderful life and her memory lives on.

To all the our departed loved ones, sleep in peace, till we meet again.

La mort n’arrête pas l’amour