By Ogova Ondego
Published October 27, 2013
The plane touched the grounds of Blantyre Airport, Malawi, our host country and home for the next week. My attention was drawn to the voice of our flight Chief Steward through a Public Address.
‘Attention please, Ladies and Gentlemen, hold onto your seats for a while. We have on our flight some V.I.P passengers, kindly let us give them a few minutes to alight first.’
The four ladies I was with and I held onto our seats. Silence followed. Our curious eyes turned from side to side searchingly. The minutes ticked by. No one moved, no one stood. After some time our curiosity turned to impatience. Where are the V.I.Ps? Who could they be? I wondered silently. Then, I noticed the steward walking down the aisle, looking at me with a smile. He made a bow beckoningly. I was dumbfounded.
‘Madam,’ he spoke, ‘can you please lead your delegation out of the plane?’
This isn’t the beginning of well crafted fiction with a twist in the tail; it is the introduction of an autobiography of an unlikely candidate for V.I.P status. Intrigued?
This is the introduction of Judy: A Second Chance, the life story of Judy Wanjiru Mbugua, her struggle with the dilemmas of adolescent marriage, the pitfalls of an education cut short, and how her resolve to change her life changed that of others, too.
Following some cajoling mixed with arm-twisting, some leaders in Africa have written their autobiographies. But much of what has been written has ended up as ‘dry’ and ‘boring’ chronicles of events and facts without properly linking them with the people and thus lacking in the human interest angle. Not so the Rev Judy Wanjiru Wainaina-Mbugua’s that 192-page publication that reads like a well crafted thriller. Mbugua, with Connie Kisuke, has written the book in an easy style that captures the interest of the reader as soon as one opens it and retains it to the end.
The book presents the girl as a headstrong and rebellious 16-year-old teenager who defies her parents, drops out of school and elopes with a man believing that life thrives on ‘love’ alone. However six years later and with five children to care for from limited resources from her accountant husband’s meager salary, she realises—horribly—that unlike what is presented in romance novels and movies, love alone is not enough in marriage as it can’t feed and clothe children and pay rent. Having realised her error, the daughter of Hosea Wainaina-cum Richard Mbugua’s wife and mother of five toddlers resolves to work hard to remove herself from the ditch into which she has landed. But first she has to learn how to deal with the humiliation and disapproval of her disappointed progressive God-fearing parents and difficult in-laws.
“From my husband’s meager resources we could barely make ends meet,” she told me. “The romantic novels I read had always ended with, ‘And they lived happily ever after.’ I was thus shocked to discover that the real world and that of romance are miles apart.”
She says the frustrations began to have a toll on her relationship with her husband after two years.
“While he thought I was extravagant with finances as he always handed to me all his salary and kept only a little pocket money for himself, I took him to be uncaring.”
She says the developing situation put her her under great stress as she had never experienced any lack of food and clothing in her parents’ home.
“In my parents’ home there had always been someone to take care of everything. But now here I was—at 18—having to run a home, care for the children and do everything else a wife is expected to do although I had never done them before.”
Reminiscing on her lost youth, she often cried, wishing she had listened to her parents and continued with her education.
To make things a little bearable, she says her husband and she agreed that she leaves Murang’a town for his rural home in Kabete in Kiambu. Here, she could pursue studies in Nairobi.
Miserable, the young wife and mother seeks refuge in the God of her parents who gives her a second chance. She pursues education by correspondence and finally lands a civil service job where she works for eight years before moving on to the insurance sector for a further 12 years. Having risen to the position of Administrative Manager, Mbugua resigned to go into full time Christian service.
Today, Mbugua is a prominent leader in international Christian leadership circles and a globe-trotter who is given VIP treatment on her many trips.
Dedicated to “Countless would-be successful young girls and women who may be wallowing in self-pity after seeming failure,” this book is likely to ignite hope in any one who reads it. Regardless of past failures, no one should give up. This book is likely to benefit the youth on how to lead a successful life.
Judy Mbugua, an ordained preacher, conference speaker, evangelist and teacher, is the founder of Ladies Homecare Spiritual Fellowship (LHSF). She has also served as coordinator of Pan African Christian Women Alliance (PACWA), chair of LHSF, chair of AD 2000 Women’s Track, and a lecturer at Haggai Institute for Advanced Leadership in Singapore.
The Rev Judy Mbugua was born in Limuru in Kiambu in 1947. She was one of the nine children of Hosea Wainaina, an inspector of schools.