History books are full of incredible stories of great men and women who have accomplished remarkable feats in the face of unbelievable odds. These great men and women were able to accomplish all these great things because they had the power to go on and on without despair or any intention to give up. They simply had the power and the will to continue.
Muhammad Ali, the once great fighter who won many battles once said the in order for one to be a champion, one had to believe that he or she was the best and if one knew that he or she was not the best, then pretending to be one was the best option.
The day was Tuesday, a day that was like other days but proved to be different among them all. The atmosphere was already hot and scotch despite the fact that it was only nine in the morning. The scorching sun’s rays fell on the already burning ground with such finality as though the Man Above had sent them to completely turn this part of the Great Western into another Sahara.
Chebukube Market, an open-air market that is situated along Bungoma – Mumias in the heart of Bungoma town in Bungoma County, a bee – hive of activities goes on as usual. Business people from all walks of life converge on this market in an effort to try to make their ends meet putting in mind the hard economic times. Here and there they call out in a desperate effort to convince their prospective customers that their products were the best and fresh despite the fact that most of the products even did not have an expiry date.
On this market, there is one unique woman, a woman whose story has never been told but is a story that if listened to is prone to lift those whose hopes and dreams have been shattered beyond repair with abject poverty. This market would not be complete without one Mama Rosemary Nanyama, an old lady who sells second- hand clothes, commonly known as mitumba, a job she has been doing for 36 years now and still going strong.
“Welcome to my Office my grandson.” The humorous lady said while smiling. Do not envy me thinking that I was welcomed into a comfortable office, the lady does not have a tangible office but the open place on the side of the main road in the scorching sun, the place she has known since 1978 is what she calls an office.
Mama Rosemary Nanyama was born in the year 1950 in one of the smallest village in Bungoma District by then. When she was born, Kenya was still under the domination of the Whiteman. During that time, in those years that Mama Rosemary was born, her father and her forefathers who had been born many years before she was born did not value the education of the girl child. It was because of this therefore that Rosemary did not get any chance of stepping into any classroom apart from only passing by on her way from the river.
“The society by then did not value girls in terms of education. In fact, my father used to rate us in terms of the number of cows that we were worth off in case we got married.” She said bursting into a roaring laughter and in the process attracting the attention of the other sellers.
“But I believed that I was too clever, too fast, and too pretty and the only thing that a human being could turn me into in order to lick me out was to turn me into a postage stamp.” She added.
Rosemary entered into the business world at the age of 28 years in the year 1978 without any knowledge in any matter concerning the literary world. She was among the first few people who were the pioneers of the selling of the second-hand clothes, a business she has now done for 36 solid years and still moving on with no intention of giving up anytime soon.
The business has seen her educate her two sons from the pre-unit level to the higher education level. The fruits of her unceasing labor have seen one of her sons becoming a bishop and the other becoming the head of a school.
“Mothers are very instrumental people in any given society. Whether educated or uneducated, their impact on the development of their children is beyond comparison. I was born a business lady at the time when business was only butter in nature and I am strongly convinced that I will only stop being a business lady when my days on this earth are over.” She said.
Mama Rosemary is an inspired person. She has an open mind. She is someone with a mind that is not afraid to walk the lonely path of invention and innovation. Her unique kind of mind aspires to venture into the uncharted frontiers of new possibilities despite her advanced age.
Mama rosemary became a widow close to 30 years ago but she never gave up in life and her children never lacked anything in life too. She gave them all that they deserved and most importantly, education and now they are among the respected members of the society.
“I am a staunch Christian too. I believe that God has strategically positioned us on this planet earth which is wonderfully and beautifully made so that we can draw lots of inspiration from nature and other existing creatures around us.” She said.
There are thousands and thousands of women and men out there who have gone to school but are still wallowing in the pool of abject poverty, but here is a woman who has never stepped into any classroom but who venture into the lonely path that is usually considered by those who have gone to school as the job for the poor and she is reaping big out of it.
“When I started this business, there were very few people into the field. But now as you can see, people are giving birthday and night and now the world of business is too full and the competition is very high. Competition is what creates champions and is what makes people grow. Those who fear competition never go anywhere.” She said.
Other women in this country should learn from Mama Rosemary. The cases of rampant unemployment are on the increase because most young people are choosy and are only concerned with the white collar jobs. But the self-employment sector is very rich and the only thing that one needs is an idea.
Remember that people lack money but they lack the idea to generate money. In fact, each and everyone should be like Muhammad Ali who once told his opponent that ‘if you dream of beating me, you better wake up and apologize.’
Do you feel worthless and talentless with nothing more to give? Out of money, out of work, out of hope? Have you walked away from your dreams? What would it take to keep you going against the odds? There is greatness in you.
Article by Juma Fred.