Like many others out there, I grew up with a single mother of five who was the solo bread winner in the house. We had a roof over our heads and we never went to bed hungry. My mom would come home during lunchtime to prepare something for us to eat before we got back from school so that we can eat and go back studying. This was almost a tradition in our house where she would do our laundry, especially during exam time just so that we were not distracted or swamped with chores. My twin sister and I were very different from each other, nothing like twins, we were more like sisters. We fought most of the time and I had to learn how to defend myself with my mouth very well because my twin sister was never the type to back down in an argument. I didn’t know how to fight and she beat me up most of the time, but at least I knew how to talk and hurt her back with my words.
After school she would normally come home, have her lunch and go back to school to study with her friends, and I would get home, play loud music while cleaning the house, eat, and then walk to a friend’s house where I would sit there and enjoy their DStv, or we would walk to another friend’s house, talk about boyfriends and gossip, and then come home in the afternoon to cook and watch soapies or read a novel. I also belonged to a dance group at the time so I would probably be at a rehearsal somewhere or out representing my school at an after school activity e.g. junior city council and debate clubs. I was a multi tasker, the loud and outgoing type but I would never miss church on sundays. I also had the coolest friends, they got pocket money from their parents and wore nice clothes and went to fancy schools, and during school holidays I would visit them and we would travel together, they would pay my movie ticket and buy me one or two items from their allowances, their parents loved me, I was that girl that every parent wanted in their child’s life. I was exposed to a different lifestyle altogether and for that reason I didn’t like to spend time at home, because we didn’t have DStv and it was boring at home, I didn’t like studying during the day either. My mom and my twin sister always told me that I was not proud of where I came from and that I should be careful not to spend too much time out of the house with friends as this might have a bad influence on me, not that my friends were bad or anything.
At school however, I was very responsible and well respected by my teachers, I didn’t do my homework at home but I had an image to maintain so I would do my homework five minutes before class, I would also volunteer to help out with school activities and there was no question I couldn’t answer in class, whether my answer was wrong or right it didn’t matter, I always had to be heard. Whenever we had a special event at school, I would volunteer to give a poem, or do a dance or join the drama group. I was always all over the place, although this didn’t sit very well with my peers. I was known as the ‘oorag’ girl but I didn’t mind, my teachers loved me and accepted me that was all that mattered. Because of this high status at school I had to study very hard because I couldn’t afford to fail or perform poorly. I would loose the respect I had with my teachers so during exams I would stay up late studying, I would join my twin sister on their after school study programmes, I was a fast learner and because I paid attention in class I didn’t really struggle much. I was not the A star student, my twin sister was, I was not average either, I think I was the B class. Later on I got voted into leadership positions and represented the school at various social events because of my talkativeness and because I proved to be responsible. I got the opportunity to attend leadership conferences and meet people in leadership and business and other children from different schools and backgrounds with different goals and dreams. I didn’t have a problem with the way that I lived my life, not at all and I was not embarrassed about where I came from either. This was not intentional and I never even thought about it or planned it, it was not part of my goals. I didn’t try to impress my mom much, but I wanted to impress my teachers and my friend’s parents. I loved the way they regarded me and it made me want to do more and become more.
Well as it turned out, my twin sister and her friends passed their grade 12 with flying colours, I think her best friend was the overall best achiever in the entire school and in Windhoek at the time for the ordinary level and my twin sister came second. My friends and I also passed our grade 12 with me in my B class as usual, but some didn’t do so well. We went on to varsity, my loud mouth and being exposed to different opportunities and poor background scored me a bursary, my twin sister and her best friend also got bursaries because of their outstanding grades, she went off to study medicine and her best friend studied engineering.
They are what we call the academic achievers. The two of them where driven by one goal only and that was their studies, they wanted to be top performers and they were just that. They never had boyfriends; they never concerned themselves with fashion or latest trends, etc. And they got exactly what they wanted. My twin sister has never ever stepped her foot in a club, her idea of a social life is to go somewhere quiet and have lunch/dinner.
Sesilia Nekwaya is a young economist at the Bank of Namibia whose dream is to make a difference in someone’s life, whether big or small. Writing this article, Nekwaya hopes this article speaks in greater volumes.