Augustine Kanjia’s incredible journey continues … A Good Result That Left Me in Tears

Our test results were around the corner. Life was still difficult at home.

It felt like there was no way out.

Augustine Kanjia

My grandmother still did not have a regular job, but she continued selling her food stuff. Many had called her by her nickname, “Soba Peppeh,” meaning the real pepper in the Creole parlance of Sierra Leone.

My garden work with Soba Peppeh had increased as her sales at the market doubled. I would cook for the house when the market occupied her. Mondays were very busy days for me. Fridays were for the market, too. My grandmother prepared more food and brought raw cassava, potatoes and their leaves. Boiled cassava and beans were on the side for sale.

Of course, we did not relent on the “Omolé” trade. Its money was coming in fast.

Soba Peppeh was versatile.

We did all these things, but always had time for prayer. I rejoiced when it was Sunday. Her church, the UMC church, depended on me for its bell. I would ring it before leaving for my own Roman Catholic church at my primary school, R.C. Motema. There was enough prayer for me in my grandmother’s church to help me pass my exam — but not to pay my upcoming high school fees.

Augustine’s last chapter: Another Lesson in Perseverance  Or scroll down to catch up on earlier posts in the remarkable tale

Augustine Kanjia’s incredible journey continues … Exam Day Distress Becomes Lesson in Perseverance

Our production of the illicit home-brewed liquor “Omolé” did not take a backseat to my education anymore.

Augustine Kanjia

My grandmother had depended on Duran Kanjia, my military half-brother who came to help fill out my entrance form to high school. He also said he would help pay for the necessary exam, but he stopped responding to our letters to him. I was left to wonder about the change I could make in my life after I would have passed.

Sobba Peppeh (my grandmother’s nickname) had prayed for me at night and gave me the blessing we thought I needed to pass. She had even tried to convince me that blessed water (“from Bethlehem”) would help me be as smart as Suma Musa, the girl who had always topped our class from Grade 1 to 7. I would eventually find out it was only well water, from outside our new house, that was not quite finished, but doing fine. It was big and nice by our town’s standard.

I was anxious that night to get to sleep and dream of passing my exam with flying colors. But it was not possible. I only became more anxious. As we finished our nightly prayer, my grandmother wanted me to eat nothing to avoid having to go to the toilet during the exam. She thought perhaps they would not allow me to leave the class.

Our exam center was far; we walked for over an hour to get there. It was a big school called U.M.C. [United Methodist Church] Secondary School, Yengema. The buildings were big. For some of us, it was our first time entering the campus. I was timid and stayed close to some friends. Our teacher, Mr. P. S. Bobor, encouraged us to avoid panic. But I was visibly panicked. I feared the unknown.

Augustine’s last chapter: More Hopes, Less Success  Or scroll down to catch up on earlier posts in the remarkable tale

Augustine Kanjia’s incredible journey continues … Part 43: More Hopes, Less Success

I had prayed for my grandmother to start preparing to pay my school fees in time, but she was also compounded with several problems. Besides having to foot all the bills, she’d recently had a death in the family.

Augustine Kanjia

My brother’s choice of high school for me was a setback.

Duran Kanjia was one of the many children Pa Kanjia had from his many wives. He was the third child of the family and I was the last, having been born a few months after our father suddenly died in 1963. Duran was in the military since I was a little child. He had earned no promotions, and I was now in the seventh grade. He was simple and did not care.

He had just returned from Daru, Sierra Leone, where he was stationed. He was clearly a strategist but lacked follow-through. I loved him in his uniform and his love for his people. But I think our father’s death may have deterred him from continuing his education.

Duran was home with us on vacation. He did not care whether he had money. He put off everything to the future. “When I return to Daru I will send some money for that purpose or this purpose,” he would say to requests for help. Even when I was needy, especially for my school, Duran did not give a cent.

My grandmother at first was happy that he had come to our home in Motema, and so she called on him to help. He postponed the talks for two weeks — which was the deadline for paying the full amount of school and exam fees my grandmother had been trying scrape together.

Augustine’s last chapter: One Problem Opens the Door for More Problems  Or scroll down to catch up from earlier in the remarkable tale

Worcester Weekly: Bravehearts are back, veggies on the Common + more as May turns to June

The most fun you’ll have with a calendar of events all week. And you just might learn something, too. 

Nature | Holiday

Monday, May 29 — Memorial Day Free Entry for Military and Veterans, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tower Hill Botanic Garden, 11 French Drive, Boylston  Everyone loves a parade, right?! Wrong. Just like clowns, apple pie and HBO, there are always some wayward folks out there who refuse to get with the program. So, if you’re not into watching 80-year-olds trudging to the haphazard beats of high school marching bands — and because of this idiosyncrasy you’ve received no cookout invitations — consider a quick road trip to explore the lush landscapes and serene surroundings of Tower Hill.

All active military and veterans with valid IDs will be admitted for free. Up to five family members with valid military dependent IDs will receive 20 percent off their admission ($12 adults, $8 seniors, $4 kids 6 and up).

For more information

Outdoors

Tuesday, May 30 — Cycling Exhibit and Repair Station unveiling, 11 a.m., Blackstone River Bikeway, 1265 Millbury St.  When complete the Blackstone River Bikeway will span 48 miles and connect cyclists from Worcester to Providence. It will also connect them with nature and history — but you know those folks; they’re just in it for the cool helmets and spandex shorts.

The unbelievably true story of Augustine Kanjia continues … Part 36: Signs of My Struggle Begin

I sometimes wondered as a child how my grandmother made her family survive.

Augustine Kanjia

My uncle hadn’t yet found his first job. Mom had left with my step-dad to live in Bo, the largest town in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone. My heart was with my mother. I knew she was striving hard to make us happy, but there were no gifts — or food or money — coming, only messages to Grannie and me.

My grandmother had only one of her three sons living with her, Ngainda. He was young and people expected him to get a good job. He would become a farmer. The road to the farm was quite a distance. It was manual farming and required real man power. He was a perfect fit for the job. His muscles were turgid and feasible.

My grandmother depended on him for a good yield. But the farm was patrolled by many birds that devoured the nursery seed or the ripened rice for harvest. This frustrated him, and he reverted to planting okra.

There was no one at home to take care of me when everyone had gone to the farm. There was no babysitting then. Your parents could leave you in the town and go about their business; they will meet you home in the evening. We feared nothing, like kidnapping or abuse. Everyone was the other’s keeper. But my grandmother, Kumba Ngehgba, was never happy leaving me behind. So, I had to miss school several times a year.

Augustine’s last chapter: Family disintegrates, Pa dies Or scroll down to catch up from earlier in the remarkable tale

Editorial: New hope for Notre Dame church?

5 Salem Square, 24,000-square-foot fixer-upper needs TLC. Great location in the heart of $200 million+ in development in downtown Worcester. Community gratitude, historic tax credits and 22,000 square feet in additions possible. Serious offers only. Soon, please.

As the remaining days pass before the owners of Notre Dame des Canadiens Church can legally demolish the iconic 1929 structure at Salem Square, there is renewed but quiet optimism that it can be saved from the forces of “progress.”

Last Friday afternoon, Preservation Worcester released a 13-page development package, schematics and prospective rehabilitation budget for the church. That was quickly followed by news that City Square II Development Co. LLC, which is controlled by The Hanover Insurance Group, has entered into an agreement to sell the church to a buyer it did not identify.

Concurrently with the development package, Preservation Worcester petitioned City Council to accept a non-binding resolution urging “all parties controlling the future of Notre Dame des Canadiens Church to delay its demolition for a reasonable additional period of time to allow for potential developers to pursue its development.”

The resolution was adopted at last night’s meeting by an overwhelmingly supportive City Council.

According to executive director Deborah Packard, Preservation Worcester is in contact with two prospective developers. One toured the church last week and another was scheduled to visit the site today, she told the Sun March 27.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 148]: The Holy Cross Fighting Crusader Debate Team

OK, so by now you know students and faculty at the “most beautiful college campus in Massachusetts” are busy trying to figure out how much trouble they’ll be in with the P.C. Police if they keep The Crusader name atop the student newspaper’s front page.

You’re also likely aware that Holy Cross + controversy = gold mine for Worcester-centric pontificators of all stripes. So, y’know, Hitch wasn’t gonna be left out.