Letters From A Retired Miner – Part 4

Face To Face With Namukolo

I was supposed to write this letter a long time ago. As you know we had elections all over Zambia. I was involved in campaigning for our local MP (Member of Parliament – Ed.). Now we have our own MP who will talk for us in Lusaka. We are very happy with the elections. Our own son is now the president of Zambia. I think he will do a lot of good things and he will show that we can make good things happen for Zambia. 

We all pray for our politicians that they will follow God's teaching and lead with the fear of God.

I want to tell you about the story I started about Namukolo. I want to tell you what happened.

In all my life I did not know that you can love a person so much that it hurts inside your chest. That night after losing the girl in Buchi compound, when I was breathing I felt like there was not enough air in the room. Two times I woke up. I went outside to breathe and then I came back inside.

Early on Sunday morning, I washed and put on my best trousers and shirt. I polished my shoes three times to make sure they were looking good. I walked to the bus stop near F section. I waited for the bus from Chamboli. When I got to KMB bus stop I got the bus to Buchi. All the time I was just thinking "Please God, give me good luck to see that girl again." I was not even thinking what I was going to say next time I go to work. My mind was just thinking about one thing. I wanted to meet that girl so much.

When I got off the bus in Buchi I went straight to the last place where I fell down with Nsofwa in the night. From there I just started walking around the houses and looking over the fences. It was very early in the morning. In most houses the women were just waking up and making fires on their charcoal burners to heat water for the family to have a bath before going to church.

I walked round and round but I did not see the girl. When people started going to church I decided to follow them. I looked in every church. Still nothing. In the afternoon I got tired of walking. I sat down under a tree near Buchi Hotel and just started looking at people walking by. Then I walked around some more. In the evening I went back home.

After this I kept on going to Buchi after work and when I was off duty. Finally after 10 days I was walking around the same houses. I found a little girl sitting on the corner of the street. She was selling fritters. I said to her "Do you know any Lozi people around here?" She said "Yes. There is a family in one street and two families in another street near here." I was very excited. I said "If you come and show me the houses I will buy one plate of fritters from you."

The little girl took me to the three houses. I asked other children playing near the houses about who lived there. They explained that there was no Lozi girl of that age living around here. At this time I felt like a hunter who has lost the trail of his prey. I cannot explain how sad I felt. Giving up was not on my mind. I had to find her. So I kept going to Buchi week after week, after week.

You know, when I say some things you cannot change because they were going to happen, I always remember the day I got on my bus as usual to go to Buchi. When we got to KMB Bus stop the girl I was hunting like a wild animal just walked in and sat in the seat in front of me! God answered my prayers when I was thinking He did not hear my prayer and He will not answer. I just clapped my hands and smiled like my smile was a disease with no medicine.

You know I said this girl was beautiful. But that was at night. Here on the bus there are no words to explain how beautiful she looked. Her hair looked so black and beautiful. Her face was long and pretty like an angel. Her skin was so smooth I could see the pores like flowers in a garden. She was wearing a brown Chitenge dress with different colours of flowers and patterns. Around her neck she had a nice scarf.

She saw my smile and smiled back politely. She looked embarassed when I did not stop smiling, so she looked down and laughed the sweetest laugh I have ever heard. Her lips looked so perfect and they became alive when she smiled. She touched her earing and I saw her fingers – long and smooth. The nails were smooth and rounded. This was a perfect girl, I tell you! It was like time stopped moving and I was drinking in everything in front of me with my eyes. I can remember that day like it was yesterday. Meeting her was not like I thought it was going to be in my head. This was better.

I said "Hello, my name is Lukonde. What is your name?"

She said "My name is Namukolo."

The way she said it and the voice! She had a Lozi accent which made me feel faint with happiness. From that day I loved all Lozi people even more.

I told her that I met her before and explained about the time when I bumped into her and fell into the flowers in Buchi. She said she also remembered me and told me that it was a very funny incident. She had talked about it with her auntie and they laughed a lot.

The way we were talking was like people who knew each other a long time. It was so easy to talk to her. I did not even know that the bus had arrived in Buchi. Namukolo said "This is my bus stop." I said this was also my bus stop. She asked who I was going to see and at first I just said I am going to see my friend in Buchi.

As we were walking from Buchi station and talking she said "So many people said hello to you here in Buchi, do you live here?" Then I explained that from that night I have been coming to Buchi because I was hoping to meet her. At first she did not believe me.

Any way, I escorted her to her auntie's house in the road just near where we bumped into them. I told her that I wanted to wait for her so that I could escort her when she went back to Luanshya where she lived. She agreed. 

I waited near the bus stop at Buchi Hall. When she came back we got on the bus together and I escorted her to her home in Luanshya. This was the start of a very special friendship. Namukolo is a very special woman. She is also a very strong woman. Knowing her gave me a new reason for living. I started walking like a king because my days were filled with smiles.

In 1964 it was not common for a Bemba man to go anywhere near a Lozi woman. It was not easy because a lot of tribes in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia – Ed.) did not allow their children to even think about marrying a girl from another tribe. Even my friend Nsofwa took a long time to accept that I was serious about her. But love can make you go through fire.

When I say fire, I mean fire!

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