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Brighton Chigwida

Rags to Riches Stories : Brighton Chigwida

When I look at my old pictures I believe that God is there. The memories of my journey sometimes fill my eyes with tears. Tears of joy and gratitude. In 2008  I went to Windhoek, Namibia. I faced horrible experiences. Things were really tough and exasperating. I had left my country because of economic hardships. I couldn’t continue to watch my family. I had to leave the country for greener pastures. Well, I guess I was wrong because the grass wasn’t so green in Windhoek. I could sing amazing songs in my heart, to myself and those who cared to listen.


I remember I became a photographer at the Zoo Park right in the CBD of Windhoek. I was a self taught and self employed photographer. This made it difficult for me to be taken serious by potential clients. I used to walk 16km from the city center to the location where I stayed, Khomasdal. Every day I would travel to and from town because I couldn’t spare 5 Rand for a taxi.


The whole day I would take 3 photos for 30 Rand. I needed food to eat during the day so I would use 15 Rand for food and have 15 Rand change. Catching a taxi was a luxury therefore I resorted to walking so as to save the few Rands I got. Some of my customers hired me as a way to support me because they could see my sorry, hungry and desperate face. It was a hustle to get one client.


Saving money was very difficult because the money was not enough to save anyway. I had to split the hard earned cash between my needs and that of my family in Zimbabwe. I had to send money back home in Zimbabwe because my family expected something from me every month end. It is seen as a shame by family members not to send something back home when you are out of the country. They didn’t know that the struggle was so intense for me.


Dating was also very difficult. Asking out a lady was a mission. It was a disgrace to be a Zimbabwean. Sometimes I had to lie to get a date. The moment the ladies realized I was Zimbabwean they would chicken out of the relationship. However, it didn’t make me wish to be someone else because I am a proud Zimbo. I knew at the right time they would beg for my attention. I had inner peace which comforted me that one day everything would make sense.

I stayed in a small room with 15 other guys so we shared rental expenses. I didn’t have a lot of possessions.  My only property was a small bag and a blanket. It was painful but I had to soldier on because I had a vision. The vision was not really clear to everyone but I could see where I wanted to be. I had goals and at all cost I had to feel the pain. The most painful part was that those back home had demands because they believed that I was in greener pastures. To them I had a lot of money. They didn’t buy the story that I was struggling. Of course, I had to pretend to be fine to my parents lest I push them to early graves.


I vividly remember the day I spent without taking a single photo. The sun had no mercy on me as I ran after a potential customer one after the other. All in vain. I waited hopelessly in Zoo park until 7pm, praying that I would get someone who wanted a single shot so I would buy a meal for the day. I had never said never in my spirit but that day memories of my pain flooded my mind like a Tsunami. I was losing myself. A conversation with God made sense to me at that moment because I was slowly losing my mind.


Around 8pm I cried miserably. I was asking God how He expected me to go home on foot yet I was hungry. I had not eaten the whole day except for the water that I continually drank from the tap in the park. I even had an unsettled stomach due to the excessive water intake. Bitterly I questioned God again why I had to suffer yet I was trying to live my life in a clean way. I could have become a robber or a thief but I chose to be a photographer. It was a shameful job which a lot of people laughed at but I did it anyway. I had no proper equipment except for the very cheap camera I had. I wondered why God was not seeing that.


After 15 minutes of crying bitterly, a miracle happened. It was like God answered my bitter prayers immediately. As I was about to give up, some Angolan guys approached me in the park. They inquired if I was a photographer and I responded that I was. I thought they wanted just a few photos but I was shocked when they told me that they wanted 200 photos. I couldn’t believe my ears when they told me that. I thought I was dreaming but it was indeed reality. Angolans were known to be high spenders in Namibia and I had never come across any until that day. I took the photos  doubting they would pay me. I was flabbergasted after the shoot when they paid me 2000 Rand. It was a lot of money back then which could do a lot of things.


That was the beginning of a new era for me. The morning that followed I bought a printer. Royal Entertainment Studio was established with that money with the help of my cousin Denzel. I am not yet rich, it’s still hard but definitely I am not where I was 9 years ago.  I am better than before. I am living my dream. My vision is now clear. Whenever I am down I remind myself where I came from. It gives me strength to carry on.


I have learnt that one should never be ashamed to do menial jobs. It is better to hustle and put food on the table for your family. Being embarrassed will only lead to an empty stomach and dirty ways of getting quick money. If God has promised that you will make it in life, it will come to pass even if it means through selling sweets.


Do not lose hope because your current situation does not define your future. However, God helps those who help themselves. Do not sit and murmur about your problems expecting a miracle to knock on your door. Let God locate you doing something.


My name is Brighton Chigwida aka Royal Bee. I am a singer and song writer based in Zimbabwe.  I am proud and thankful to God for producing a number of singles like “It’s Your Love”; “Zvaunondiita Babe”; “Handina Pressure” and many others.  If I made it regardless of the challenges I faced I believe you can also make it.

Carol is an author, a blogger and a qualified teacher. She loves to pen articles about life's struggles, challenges and anything else going on in her head.