CHRISTINE CHISHA, Lusaka
THE day that changed his life, in a way he did not imagine, is January 27 this year, when his wife died together with the baby during childbirth at one of the hospitals in Lusaka.
A father of two daughters, a 14-year-old and a four-year-old, the 35-year-old Mumba Mwaba made a decision that drastically changed the way he was going to spend his life.
Mumba was not going to let other people raise his children, not even the 14-year-old step daughter.
You may think it is a tough decision, but you also have to understand where he is coming from.
“I am an orphan and was raised in different homes. In some homes, I could even tell that I was not wanted and that made my life difficult. I ended up quitting school in Grade 10 so I could provide for myself,” he says.
“That’s not the life I want for my daughters. I want my daughters to grow up in a loving environment and get the best education that I can afford for them.”
Mumba is a businessman, who sells cars and spare parts around Lusaka’s Northmead area.
But if he thought it was going to be walk in the park, he was wrong. Even with the help of his mother-in-law who lives with them in Lusaka’s Avondale.
His day starts around 05:00 hours when he has to head to the kitchen to prepare some breakfast for the girls.
Mumba has to ensure that the girls are ready for school and he has to drop them off on time.
If it is weekends, he has to take them to the salon. Sometimes, he has to do some house chores with them.
“For now, the only small challenge is my 14-year-old because she is at an age where she needs a woman figure to discuss certain issues with,” he says. “That is the reason I brought in my mother-in-law and she has been fantastic with my daughters especially when I am away on business.”
For now, marriage is not on Mumba’s mind because his main focus is ensuring that his daughters are happy and well-taken care off.
“When I decided to remain with the children after my wife’s death, people criticised my decision because they felt I would not move on,” he says. “But I have shocked them because I am doing fine.”
Mumba says at the time of his wife’s death, he was away on business in South Africa. It was while in South Africa that he received a call from his then pregnant wife informing him that she was at the hospital seeing a doctor.
“She told me that the doctors were worried because they could not feel the foetal heartbeat. She said they had recommended an emergency operation,” he says. “But when I called the following morning, her phone went unanswered. Later, my sister-in-law called and informed me that she had lost a lot of blood during surgery. Two hours later, I called again but was told that we had lost my wife and the baby.”
He says preparing for his trip back home was extremely tough. The grief was too much.
“The call was around 12:00 hours but the only available flight was at 19:00 hours. That was the longest seven hours of my life,” Mumba says. “Her funeral was at my in-law’s place. I kept remembering the promises we had made to each other before, during and after we were married.”
After the funeral, during a family meeting, Mumba says he was asked how he intended to care for his children alone especially that the oldest daughter is not his biological child.
“I informed them that I was going to continue living with my children the way we had planned with my wife,” he says.
“But I asked that my mother-in-law and sister-in-law move in with us for a while because I needed time to adjust to the new situation. Fortunately, they agreed. The only problem I have had is with my youngest daughter who occasionally demands to see her mother. I have had to take her to her graveyard to show her where she rests.”
Mumba says being a widower is not easy as it can be lonely but what encourages him and gives him strength is his relationship with God, and spending time with his daughters.
“Spending time with my children helps me understand their needs and wants,” he says. “I also like being with friends and family who speak positively about life. I am also inspired by my uncle, General Frank Mumba who took me in when everyone else could not look after me. He taught me how to be a good man and father. We were 17 in his house including his biological children.”
In business, his role model is Kasama member of Parliament Kelvin Sampa who he describes as a kind person who has taught him what it is about running a business. He says Mr Sampa has also been a pillar.