For a long time, Anastacia Kakii Obule aka Anastacia Mukabwa didn’t grow up with a lot of privileges. She shares her story of dropping out of school at the age of 16 to live with a Muslim man she had fallen in love with- her determination being the desire to find herself a secure home away from the poverty in her own home.
In 1989, when Anastacia was 12, her life took a sudden turn when her father fell ill and died. “I was a Class Eight pupil at Maweni Primary School. He had been the sole breadwinner so losing him made life extremely difficult for us,” Anastacia narrates. With six children to feed, her mother Margaret Mbande, who was unemployed, could not make ends meet.
To make matters worse, during her father’s burial, his family (siblings and relatives) had tried to force her mother to be inherited by another man.
“My mother and her family protested so they took away all the property my father owned, claiming we were no longer part of their family. We had to start life from scratch,” Anastacia continues.
With nowhere else to go, the family moved to Maweni slums in Mombasa. “My father’s death automatically meant I was in and out of school. I was the second born in the family so I had to do whatever I could to help feed the family. On some days, all we could find to eat was the half-rotten vegetables we picked from the nearby Kongowea Market,” she narrates.
During school holidays, Anastacia and her siblings did menial jobs to make ends meet. They ranged from farming to laundry and vending food. Her elder brother, then 15, opted to do construction work, otherwise known as “kazi ya mjengo”.
“All this really affected me. I had been the top pupil at my school and now the future of my education seemed uncertain. There were times when I contemplated suicide. I felt like such a loser in life,” she narrates.
One day, Lady Luck seemed to finally smile on Anastacia. A man named Thomas Nakaki, only known to her as her father’s distant relative, offered to pay her secondary school fees at Mombasa High School, all the way to Form Four.
“But other than my mother and siblings who appreciated his efforts, the rest of the community termed it a waste of time and money to educate a girl. They said it was like watering someone else’s garden,” she says.
“It didn’t help that things remained tough at home though and I was faced with this reality every time I got home from school. When I met and fell in love with a man named Isah, I dropped out of school and decided to go and live with him, determined to find myself a secure home, away from the life of poverty,” she says adding that she was only 16 years old then.
As expected, Anastacia’s mother protested her decision which she termed immoral and irrational. In addition, Isah was Muslim.
“She had no choice but to let me go. I was already pregnant with Isah’s child,” Anastacia recalls, adding that she imagined that the birth of their son, Prince Lawrence, would make their love stronger.
But their differences soon took a toll on their union. “We disagreed on so many things and ended up fighting. Most times, I had to wear a buibui and hijab, the robe and head covering worn by Muslim women. Understandably, it took me a while to get used to it. Then it seemed like I had to either convert to Islam or lose my family and marriage. Worse still, I learnt that my husband was planning on marrying a second wife as his religion allows him to marry up to four wives,” Anastacia says.
“That was the beginning of my nightmare. The only comfort I had, besides crying day and night, was my baby boy Lawrence and my unborn baby. It really affected me. I was exhausted -- emotionally, physically and spiritually,” she says.
But even with the endless months of tension and no one to talk to, Anastacia gave birth to a second baby, a healthy girl who she named Rose.
Meanwhile at home, Anastacia’s mother had been deeply affected by her hasty decision. The thought of her daughter disobeying her culminated into bitterness and shame. She became a recluse and chose to keep to herself. There seemed to be no way out for reconciliation.
“Going back home was the last thing on my mind after failing to heed my mother’s advice. I felt so much shame. My relatives shunned me except for some of a few who faced the wrath of the village elders for choosing to comfort and encourage me during these trying moments,” Anastacia narrates.
One day in 1998, I attended an evangelical crusade in my area led by Joseph Maisha, the same pastor (now bishop) who later became my spiritual mentor. I gave my life to Christ and started spending a lot of time reading and composing gospel songs.
Anastacia says she spent time praying and fasting, asking God to touch the life of her husband. She says it took close to four years before God finally answered her prayers.
“One day when I got back home from church, I was surprised to find my husband sitting at our doorstep with a Bible in his hands. Before I could even utter a word, he informed me of his decision to accept Jesus Christ as his personal saviour. At first, I thought it was a dream that would soon come to an end, but to my surprise he asked that we attend church together,” she rejoices.What’s the most useless talent you have?