My name is Nkatha Mbogori and currently, I reside in Australia.
I was born in Kenya and lived there for the first seven years of my life. I still remember the schools that I went to and how my mum always had samosas when she came to pick me up from school. I still recall being babysat by my grandmother and absolutely hating it because she would have so many chores for me to run! But alas, it was not the same with my grandfather and I really liked being around him because he always had something delicious with him-for me! All said and done, it was good being surrounded by family.
However, all this changed when we moved to Zimbabwe. The move was daunting, especially because I was leaving my friends and family whom I had been for the most part of my young life. Thankfully though, as daunting as the move was, I was able to settle relatively quickly and I made new friends.
My challenges came when I was in high school. I found myself trying to figure out my identity, while battling peer pressure and the influence of those I surrounded myself with. I felt like I needed to change my image to be cool and accepted by all. So I stopped eating most of the food I got. I always had an excuse for why I wasn’t eating at home and pretty much subdued my hunger pains by eating an orange or drinking juice. Eventually my body got used to the lack of food and I didn’t feel hungry as much and the little fruit I ate sufficed. At some point however, one of my close friends realized what I was doing and reported the same to my mom and from that moment, she would watch me every time food was served to make sure I ate to my fill!
The insecurity in myself went on for a while longer as I battled the ‘rumour-mills’ with all the concocted lies about me, while also trying to find my place amongst the people I called my friends. Suffice to say, my high school years came with many self-challenges, some of which followed me into my adult years.
I left Zimbabwe in 2005 for Australia, dreaming of becoming a lawyer. At first, I was glad at the distance between Zimbabwe and Australia because in my mind, my parent could not make an impromptu visit. You see, in my early teenage years, I had always fantasized about being an adult-being on my own, making my own decisions, going to work and earning a pay cheque!
Being in this new land, I experienced an amalgamation of feelings: Excitement, fear, independence, uncertainty and the like. By this point, I had a boyfriend who was already in Australia and who I had been dating for several years. He had actually proposed to me on my eighteenth birthday! We were engaged for about 6 months until I realized I was not ready to be married. I was excited to have a boyfriend and for the life that we would have, the one that I Imagined. But little did I know, as Shakespeare would put it that “dreams are children of an idle mind begot of nothing but vain fantasy.”
At this point, I hadn’t realized that I was not the only one in my boyfriend’s life and so all the plans I had devised in my fantasies would not come to fruition. This discovery as well as being so far away from my family was the first big challenge I faced upon migration. I felt alone and overwhelmed.
I started school soon after I arrived in Australia and it was here I made friends with several different people, some of who are still in my life and are dear to me. I spent as much time as I could getting to know my way around and of course, got to know where all the good shopping bargains were! I then managed to reconnect with a friend from high school who introduced me to several other people as well as my ex boyfriend who happens to be the father of my nearly five year old daughter, Tayana Zuri. Soon after, I managed to find a job, which was far from the glamorous job I had dreamt of, and this was the beginning of my independence journey.
My love life was a mess right from the beginning. It was filled with drama, lies, betrayal and insecurities. There were so many people involved in it and although I knew a significant amount of what was going on around me, I very badly wanted my relationship to work. A few times I mustered the courage to leave but my ex-boyfriend would put on a charm so thick and appear so remorseful that I would convince myself that he would change. However, regardless of all he put me through, I know that there was a lesson to be learnt in all that experience and coming out of that relationship for the last time, I knew that God would not put me through such a test knowing that I would not be able to handle it. He carried me through and brought me out stronger.
I lost myself in that relationship as well as the friendships surrounding it. I allowed myself to be a sheep and just follow and in so doing, I was who people needed me to be. I compromised my beliefs and my values in order to fit in. I was so hell bent on being accepted that I was a stranger to myself. I lost my confidence, my self-esteem and did not realize my own value. All I had left was my independence. I got to a point however, where I said “enough is enough” and with the strength God had equipped me with, I got out.
I knew God had my back and that He would provide whatever I needed and He did and still does. I moved out and into my own place with Tayana. Regardless of what my child’s dad did to me, I feel blessed because he has a great relationship with her and he spends time with her. It took a long time before we could be amicable and it took me a while before I was able to forgive him, but after constantly praying for peace, I discovered that I was the one holding myself back from having that peace. So I forgave him and I feel like I have finally completely closed that door and chapter of my life. It was a messy break-up and one filled with drama. But it was also one that gave me several lessons and perspectives that I had been too scared to have.
I believe I have found myself again. I feel blessed to be able to take care of my child and myself without financial help from anyone. I feel blessed to be ‘me.’ I make decisions that are best for my child and myself. I feel blessed to be able to go back to school and graduate. I have also started my own business, which is slowly taking shape.
Each day, I thank God for giving me people who spur me on to become better, and a family that believes in me 110%. My daughter is my life and the one person who inspires me to strive for more.
If there is one piece of advice, I can impart on anyone looking to migrate and even those who have no interest in migrating, it’s for you to be real to yourself. Only then, can you maximize on your ability to soar. No-one does you better than you.