Hi and welcome everyone! The Sunflowerknights are finally online! I have great hopes for this site!
Let me start by sharing the very first story with you: mine.
* Some of the names in this story were altered or not mentioned to respect the anonymity of the key characters in this story, namely my mother and my father.
I was born in 1969. My mother, a white French-Canadian from Quebec City met a young man from the DR Congo, Africa.
She got pregnant with me at the tender age of 19 years old. The man was in Quebec City attending Laval University in connection with an internship in civil engineering. He left Canada and found out my mother was pregnant with his child shortly after.
Though they corresponded for a short while, it quickly became a reality that my mother would be single with a mixed-raced kid at the end of the 60s. She got married to a white French Canadian man 2 years later and had 2 other boys. She remained married for 5 years until she asked for a divorce an ended up with an estranged ex-husband.
We were then 3 boys raised by a single-mother.
In 2 or 3 occasions, which I cannot recall exactly, between 1988 and 1995, I attempted to connect with my African father. Once by writing to the DR Congo embassy and once in person during a visit to Ottawa in the mid 1990s. None of my attempts led to anything.
During the Winter Semester 1996, in my 3rd year as a student at Ryerson University in Toronto, I attended an oral communication class that would set the stage to a fateful event. We had been asked to make an oral presentation on a subject of choice. I chose ‘The Importance of a father in a child’s life’.
I did some research through which I have learned that ‘a father’ (or a father-figure as fatherly-like authority is a role sometimes played by the mother) is important as it is a window onto the world and the work market for the child to get prepared to enter. Fatherly authority symbolizes conditional love as opposed to motherly care which fosters unconditional love. So as a general statement, fathers prepare children to face a world which will like and recognize them for what they achieve rather than what they are.
My presentation to the class was very emotional and I could hardly keep tears away by the time it was over.
And now to the interesting stuff… the Universe was now set to stage the most fateful and striking event that ever took place in my life. One that has given me hope on the less tangible questions of life such as the existence of God, whether man is more than flesh and bones. It also made me think about coincidences versus fate.
It was April 30th 1996. It was late, very late. Just about midnight. I was just getting off the subway at the Dufferin subway station in Toronto. I had spent the evening finishing off an important assignment in a lab on the campus. I got out through the North West exit at the corner of Dufferin and Bloor Street West.
Right across Dufferin stood a small ‘Pizza Pizza’ outlet. It was so small you could only pick up your slice and sit on stools by the front window.
I had worked hard on that assignment that evening and felt like a pizza treat as a reward before heading to bed. I lived nearby in a house which I, my close friend and a roommate were renting from probably the meanest, monstrous landlord I have ever had… but that’s another story.
From where I stood in the dark knight, I could reckon a scene across the street and into the restaurant where a bunch of young black men were busy ordering pizza and teasing a young white woman. The scene was not inviting, really, as I did not want to walk into a feud or quarrel. It got me somewhat worried. I nevertheless decided to march on and proceeded to cross the street heading straight for the restaurant.
As I entered, I noticed how noisy they were and their African accent. I was intently determined to keep my mouth shut, order my slice and get out. A few minutes in, all of them but two got out with their snack and resumed their noisy dispute right outside the main window with the young woman bewildered in the midst. I was inside waiting in line behind the remaining two who were still waiting for their treat.
Suddenly one of them switched to french. Being from Quebec City myself, it was always tempting back then to attempt to befriend french speaking folks. I could not resist yet again…
“Are you guys from Africa?” I ask.
“Yes, why do you ask?” they reply.
“Oh, just out of curiosity. What country are you from?” I say.
“We are from the DRC Congo,” they continue
“From Congo?… That is where my father is from,” I reply.
“Really, what tribe is your dad from?” they inquire.
“I don’t know, I know nothing about tribes. What I do know is that he is from Eastern Congo, lived and may still live in Kinshasa the capital city. That is at least what my mother told me, ” I state.
“Kinshasa? That is where we are from.”
“What is your father’s name?” one of them ask.
“Mulumba,” I replied. “Jacques Mulumba….”
Both are now staring at me seemingly shocked, as in disbelief.
“What… what… repeat your dad’s name again!”, they insist.
“Jacques Mulumba”, I go again. Mulumba”
“What… what… what… Give us details about your dad… hurry!,” they go frantically.
I go, “what do you want to know?”.
“Anything! Anything! Give us details about him!,” they say as they get increasingly restless.
So I go, “He is about 52 years old. Civil engineer by trade. He met my mother around the year 1968 as he was on campus at Laval University, Quebec. I figure he must be quite well off now as he was one of the few black Africans to hold university degrees in the late sixties.”
“He sure is,” they continue. He’s a top director in an oil company. This is just astounding… unbelievable”, they say in awe. “Hear that,… We know your father… Not only do we know your father but we come from a neighborhood in Kinshasa which is just metres away from your family’s home. We’re friends with your brothers and sisters,” and they go about naming them all.
At this point, I am listening incredulous as stuck between a time space somewhere between fantasy and reality. Meanwhile the two men keep glancing at each other as they keep uttering words such as ‘incredible’ and ‘unbelievable’. This whole scene lasts for about 15 minutes.
They then finally come to their senses as I am still stuck trying to figure out what is happening to me.
They ask me to to stand still while they get the others just outside the door. They then all swarm me and spend the next 20 minutes trying to convince me that this is no April’s fool.
One of them, the tallest cuffs my head between his large hands, shakes it and shouts: “He looks just like his dad!!!”, as I suddenly witness an explosion of joy and laughter.
They give me a phone number to call in Africa. I then proceed to walk off in the night as in a scene from a movie. Once home, I call and wake my mom. She too is in disbelief and rejoices for my second birth. A week later, I am on the phone with my father.
After a short trip to meet him in August 1996, I have left for the DR Congo 2 years later to spend 8 months. I came back to Canada 8 months later. I have been married to a Congolese woman for the last 13 years and have 2 children, 8 and 10, a boy and a girl. I am still in touch with my father for those who want to know. I sometimes tell them that they owe their existence to this fateful, magical event. I even showed them the exact spot once during a trip to Toronto.
Believe… Although I cannot prove it, this is no accident. It cannot be. Something or someone orchestrated this event. I will spend the rest of my life trying to figure out exactly what or… who was the magician. But there is hope, there is definitely hope. Hope is what drives a man to continue the Faith journey.
Yours Truly,The Kani Knight