New found freedom
January 2000, started with a bang. I was super excited for my last year in secondary school. I was 16 years old, and I felt so grown up already and being a senior was something I couldn’t wait to experience.
It was a few days into the year, and it was time to do the last minute shopping and gather up things needed for the new term.
The Christmas decorations were still out on display as we made our way through the store, with holiday music blasting through the sound system as we picked up things for our tuck boxes. There were a few non-negotiable things on my list, mainly essential food items: Yes, I love food.
- Cereal (Bokomo vs Kellogs)
- Powdered Milk, although recently we had started adding little packs of the UHT milk,
- Milo or Hot chocolate
- Biscuits (The Baker’s Brand, The South African Brand was one of my favorites )
- Garri (A Nigerian/West African product made from Cassava)
- Condiments ( Mayo, Ketchup, Hot Sauce)
- A few bars of chocolate
- Writing Materials (Pens, Pencils, post-it notes) and posters for my wall etc.
I was always excited about resuming school and reconnecting with my friends. This year I was most excited about moving into the Form 5 Girls Hostel. To me, it was the most beautiful dorm in Chengelo. The fact that we were two girls to a room was perfect.
I was also excited to resume my duties as an assistant primary prefect. I had spent a term already in my post, in my last term of 4th form. So I was more confident in my capabilities in handling my responsibilities. I was 16 years old, and I was responsible for a few hours a week watching over 20 children who were between the age of 4 and 9.
A few days later, as we headed back to Mkushi. I was happy to go back to the bush as my Father teased us. There was a light feeling that evaded every part of my being. I was light in spirit because a huge burden had been lifted. The bubbly Bethany was back in town. I knew I wasn’t going to be a doctor, so the self-imposed pressure was reduced. My goal was to do well but enjoy my last year at boarding school.
I stopped hiding and finally took the bold steps to interact more with my friends. I joined the drama club, now for an introvert that was mighty scary. I was sad that I had to quit the Mustard seed club ( A tree planting club), but I needed to step out of my comfort zone and try new things.
I spent more time having conversations at social events and went to coffee nights instead of staying in my room. I was at a place finally where I was happy being me. I accepted the fact that I was unique, and I joined when others laughed at some of the things I did. Like the habit, I had for falling in the most awkward and unusual circumstances.
One of the main things I appreciated about my school was the opportunities we were given to experience new things outside of the classroom. In Form 3, we had climbed Mt Mumpu, the third highest mountain in Zambia. In Form 4 we had gone to Kapishya Hot Springs and visited Shiwa Ngandu (Sir Stewart Gore Brown’s Mansion).
This year as Form 5 students, we went to visit the Mambilima Special school in the Luapula Province of Zambia. I had previously interacted with students from the school when they came visiting. But this trip we went to see them. We spent almost a week with them. Seeing children with various special needs having so much confidence, inspired me. I spent most of that week in awe of those children, even as we practised some songs and danced.
When we returned back to our campus, I was highly motivated. I had so much to be grateful for, after all I was attending the best secondary school in Zambia.
Form 5 was definitely off to a promising start.