Written by Doreen Mwenda.
They say fear hinders people from achieving their full potential, lowering self-esteem and causing a loss of confidence. This memory resonates with the fear I felt when Mr. Jimmy Kayika messaged me on a Sunday (19th June), asking me to represent Zambian Arts Publications at Annie Nyendwa’s book launch scheduled for Tuesday (21st June). Reading the message sent shivers down my spine; even alone in my room, the tension was palpable, and I recall feeling irritated by my own pillows. The message detailed my role: representing the publishing house, giving a speech about our operations, and presenting the publishing certificate to the author. I had to read it twice, questioning if it was intended for me. Unsure and nervous, I hesitated but realized there was no one else available, so I embraced the challenge, as Mizinga Melu would say, “BRAVING THE ODDS.” Facing my fears, I prayed for guidance, acknowledging that I couldn’t do it alone and needed the Lord’s presence.
On the eve of the event, realizing time constraints and Mr. Jimmy’s absence, I understood that as a Lusaka resident, the responsibility fell solely on me for Annie Nyendwa’s book launch. That night, I hastily crafted a speech about Zambian Arts, anticipating expansion on stage. Surprisingly, Mr. Jimmy approved without alterations, affirming my comprehension of the task.
On the event day (21st June), panic set in, prompting a desire for company during the speech. Despite unsuccessful attempts to invite friends, I found myself navigating the launch alone in what I termed a “FOREIGN WORLD.”
The plan was to attend after work, but the panic led to rehearsing the speech at work. Before leaving, Mr. Jimmy instructed me to inform Annie of my representation. Annie, gracious and welcoming, assured me of her awareness and inclusion in the program, alleviating my anxiety.
Arriving at the venue on time, I felt a momentary loneliness. Engaging in social media distracted me from overthinking the impending speech. The program started, and as others spoke, I pondered my performance. Surprisingly, the speech time ended, and I wasn’t called. Seated next to Annie Nyendwa, I realized she and I had not met before, marking the beginning of an unexpected yet welcome connection.
As I sat there, Annie left my side to unveil her book on stage. Doubts crept in: was I not added to the list of speakers, or would I be called at the end? To ease my nerves, I decided to seek clarity from an usher. I explained that Mr. Jimmy instructed me to give a speech. The usher, Annie’s godmother, smiled warmly, apologized for the oversight, and handed me the microphone, saying, “The stage is yours.”
With those words, I felt a surge of anxiety, but I knew it was time to face my fears. Walking on stage, the applause and supportive nods boosted my confidence. Speaking for almost seven minutes, I realized I didn’t need the script; the aims and objectives of Zambian ARTS were ingrained. The relief after finishing was immense, and the positive feedback from the audience, including new acquaintances, Princess Barbie and Jane Grace, left me feeling proud.
Returning home, my mother and Mr. Jimmy praised my performance, and I slept that night feeling proud of overcoming the challenges in a foreign world. I recognized that facing fears alone is part of life, and with gratitude, I thanked the Lord for his presence.
Reflecting on the experience, I encouraged others to confront their fears, pray about them, and believe they can overcome. It was a reminder that life demands self-reliance, and facing fears leads to personal growth.