Updated: Nov 22, 2020
Senzya comes from a family of eight children. He just finished primary school and like many African youths he is now expected to the live his name which loosely translates as man of the road (a name he acquired by the virtue of his birth on the way before reaching the house of a traditional birth attendant), by leaving his home and embark on the journey of looking for “life”. For a fortunate family a boy child would join the militia, an apprenticeship from an uncle who might have learnt that from the industries that were run prior to independence or a garage of the same sort. For an ordinary basic family like Senzya’s, they are left with an option to just go to a busier town where one can be a porter or a night watch of a shop. On the other hand, a girl child is expected to collect herself modestly, not appear very bold and ambitious to attract a husband from a family with the most cows and goats who will be more willing to offer them in an exchange to a girl with such qualities. She can’t dream beyond domestic production because “her husband can’t come to an empty home with an axe and a hoe on his shoulder and no wife is there to receive them because the wife is at work”.
It was no difference for Senzya who had to leave his birth cradle at Kilimanjaro region to Arusha. The choice to Arusha was influenced by his other brothers who already had been trying to look for “life” given their older age. Senzya was particularly expected to take an example of his older brother MwanaIgonji (translating as man of a ship) a nickname he acquired following his childhood fights with other kids using his head like that of a ship.
These other brothers had been doing “this and that” to make ends meets, given their Islam upbringing they wouldn’t stay without wives, so despite the uncertain source of income, they still managed somehow to marry and keep a family.
Senzya’s thinking was a bit different, he saw “life” and thought that’s not the kind of life he was aspiring. So, he swore to himself that he wouldn’t settle for marriage, until somehow his life was stable enough. The basics at least! A house, a stable source of income and a future that would include his children going to school. Senzya did well in school, Senzya wanted more to do with school, he wished he would at least become a teacher like Mwalimu(teacher/sir) Kambewe. But the cows that would potentially be sold for him to go to school were “too few” for his father to use them for bride prices of all the five boys including himself. His father was contented with the amount of land that he hoarded, and he didn’t think beyond the daily bread and subsistence needs.
Much as Senzya didn’t know about the benefits of a good education, Senzya liked how Mwalimu Kambewe swaggered about how “he is not going to be in school on Monday and the class should stay quiet” because he was going to pick his salary from the post office in the nearest councils postal office. Senzyas admiration didn’t end there, it persisted weeks after Mwalimu Kambewe had come back. Kambewe’s family ate bread with butter, his maize farm wasn’t eaten by pests because he brought DDT to spray, and his sons wore shoes to school. Senzya wanted that! So much! And whenever he tried to compare what was different from his dad and Mwalimu Kambewe, the fact Kambewe was a teacher and his dad was a sit home proud farmer who treasured land, cows and many kids in that order, CLICKED!
So Senzya, aspired to be a teacher! Of course, he had never seen an engineer close enough to admire and being a doctor was too high a job, it’s naïve to even dream about it.
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Is it going to be easy for Senzya to dream differently?