She’d thought she was dull, Loveness told me, because she hadn’t passed her Grade nine exams. That was the end of her formal schooling. She married a farmer, and ended up living in a Zambian village. It wasn’t until her mid thirties that she realized she wasn’t dull. She just had a different rhythm. She thought best at night, when everyone else was sleeping. Lucky for her, her husband was a forward thinking man and supported her going back to school. By this time she had six children and half of them were in high school themselves. Her courses were mostly by distance education and some class time in the nearby town. Sometimes she employed a private tutor. When I talked to her in 2011, Loveness was jubilant. She’d passed her first two Grade ten courses. Her eyes were set on her Grade 12 diploma; then nursing school.
My husband and I stayed in Loveness’ home for some days almost every year. Every time we visited, she was working on new courses, usually two or three at a time. Her self-confidence grew as she passed them. She started driving lessons and passed. Her husband purchased a car for her. Computer lessons were next. Just recently I received a friend request from her on Facebook. When I post her a note, she answers. She’s become a leader in women’s groups. This week her husband told me she’s graduated from Grade 12 with flying colours. I am so very proud of Loveness. So is her husband. He believes that I was a key person in encouraging Loveness. I believe he was the key person. Not every man, even in our western world, will stand behind his wife when she decides to carve out a life for herself. In the rural Zambian setting it is rare indeed. Now Loveness is determined to go to college. They’re looking for a good school for business administration. They’re building a workshop together. She wants to manage the business with her husband.
Her last-born, as they say in Zambia, her daughter, is writing her Grade 12 exams this year. “You can’t fail,” her mother challenges her. “If I can pass my exams with flying colours, you who are able to go to class every day, should do better.”