I have watched my grandmother do a lot of amazing things.
I remember going to the village in the 80’s and seeing her and other relatives actively sorting out large volumes of fresh fish, smoking it, packaging it, then getting some of my aunts and other women in the community to distribute it to various part of the country for a profit.
My mother has told me many stories about how she and my grandmother sold many things to make a living.
For over 24years, she took care of my brother and I, when my parents relocated to London.
Our first business venture was selling oranges I think, then sugarcane and nuts in a shell.
My grandmother will be up by 3am to meet the commercial trains that came with goods from other parts of the country. She will carry the sugarcane home, and I mean over 50 long heavy sugarcane sticks if I can call it that, on her head for about 10km if I am right. I will then take it to the butchers market for sale at 5am. I enjoyed selling and looked forward to selling oranges in the evenings and the nuts on the weekend.
Grandma leaves to the market for our weekly grocery shopping at 6am and comes back at 6pm most times, so her nickname was sixtosix. She looked forward to telling me how much she paid for every single item and how she went back and forth to make sure she got a good deal.
I was quizzed every time I went to the market alone, and it came as no surprise when she found a way to ban me from going to the market. I didn’t get enough discounts!
My brother and I also nicknamed her Minister of Finance and Economic Planning.
She insisted on walking to almost everywhere in the city. She just says, “Its just here, we will be there soon.”
I learnt so much from my grandmother, I couldn’t even begin to list it. I do know she fueled my enterprising spirit.
Thanks to her, waking up early is so easy. I am up at 4:30am most days.
Sometimes, I think I inherited my strong sense of memory from my grandmother.
Put me in a class to train or teach 100 or 300 people and I will remember everybody’s name or some story about them by the end of day one and I always remember them when we meet in the future. At nearly 90 years, she tells me about her family tree from both of her parents side, dating back 3 generations in under 15minutes.
My grandmother is strong and selfless, a character trait I have picked. But, wanting to assert my independence meant we didn’t always see eye to eye, but we love each other in our own way.
We used to harvest water in an 8 foot tank and guess what? She will mount tables and chairs, so she can get into the tank and clean it before the rains start. By the way, she insists on washing her own clothes even now.
We clashed on so many things; mindset, worldviews, but we found a way to adapt.
I recall how she started selling iced water and will complain about how the younger kids will out compete her when we moved to a new neighbourhood. We discouraged her and told her to stop, because:
1. We didn’t think she needed the money
2. We found it a little embarrassing to be honest
But she paid no attention to us and will go back every day to make a sale. I guess selling is just in her blood and was never afraid of rejection. Her actions taught me valuable lessons about rejection, resilience and not listening to naysayers, and boy, there are so many of them.
She took risks and tried so many things. Some worked and some didn’t. I paid close attention and learnt a lot about risks and strategy. If you ever see me venturing into something else, you know why.
The women in my family are like termites, we never stop, and I will never stop, until God himself stops me.
I forgive and “release” people easily and I am a no nonsense person who is very confident because, I have seen my Grandma feel bitter about some things, allowed people to walk all over her and had her confidence crushed by people.
Her greatest regrets she tells me, were her father not taking her to school and getting her baptized. The baptizing can be fixed. :-)
Because of her lack of formal education, she keeps every single paper she finds and asks me or my brother if it is useful. She has made me a hoarder of books, magazines and papers.
You should see how her eyes lit up when my brother told her he was off to China to study for 2 years. Contrary to what my Mum and I were thinking; that she will say “its too far, I won’t be seeing you in a while”, she actually said “Go, go, my son go! That is wonderful news, go and study”.
If I ever tell her I will be on TV, she instructs my little cousins to put it on that channel and no one dares change it until she has seen me on it. And of course she watches with a sense of pride and does a little dance when I come on TV.
My Grandma didn’t go to school and made me realize it was a privilege to do so and I took it seriously. No wonder, I am an educationist.
Thank you Adzovi, aka Daavi. I am grateful for your life, the lessons and the sacrifices you made for my brother and I.