We’re sharing our true story to celebrate the 8th anniversary of Grass-fields! This is the first chapter. Be sure to share this post with your friends and family so they can be part of the journey too!
The year was 1996. The place was Yaoundé, Cameroon. Georgette Nkoma, the Cameroonian sprinter had just won gold at the African championships. As the finish line tape dropped lifelessly to the ground, a few miles away, the world was falling apart in a similar fashion for two young sisters. I was one of them. My name is Christelle and my twin-sister is Michele - you know us as the founders of Grass-fields. We were just 8 years old when our father suddenly passed away. He was our rock, our spine, our breadwinner. Now, the responsibility would fall on our tender shoulders, to fend and fight for our family’s survival. This is a story of death, debt, cancer, darkness, sweat, grit, hope, light, colour, and glory. This is the story of Grass-fields.
Father’s gone, but the fire isn’tHe was a wonderful man, larger than life; a construction master whose wits and work ethic afforded us a large house and a comfortable start in the world. Perhaps watching him and absorbing his spirit gave us our dedication and drive. When he went away, the curtain on our former life dropped dramatically, leaving our mother and 6 siblings in poverty. To make matters worse, our brother had cancer and our mother’s debt was piling up. There was no more celebration or joy at home, everything had become sour. We had been left in the dark but we always saw a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel and charged towards it.
By any means necessary
Our mother was forced to become an entrepreneur. Of course, we were always by her side. We sold avocados and bananas as best as we could to make ends meet. I remember selling sweets at school to bring home some loose change. At boarding school, we were constantly being chased for fees. Somehow, we knew instinctively that education was going to be paramount for our survival and success so we stayed in our classes by any means necessary. By hiding under desks and befriending professors, we did everything we could to stay in school and soak up the information we were being presented.
We might have a chance
At just 11 years old, we realised we were no longer kids. We were desperately poor but absolutely dedicated to digging our way out of the darkness and despair. We knew we had one shot at being successful, we knew our lives had changed forever but how? What would happen next? Those answers would come at university - if we could get there, we might have a chance.
Look out for the next chapter, coming to your screen on Monday 15th March!