FGCU grad student overcomes more than most
Published: Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Updated: Saturday, May 26, 2012 13:05
Some people in Chad lived more than adequately.
Rich businessmen, selling oil and cotton, enjoyed rights not given to uneducated like Mordomti Awa and Joseph.
But that didn’t stop Mordomti Awa and Joseph from instilling firm Christian values in Narmbaye, telling their son to treat women well, to embrace education and to live soberly.
“When I was born, my parents introduced me to God early on,” Narmbaye said. If you do things right, great things will happen to you, they said. My dad didn’t play around with education. If you miss a class, he would make you find another place to sleep at night.”
So, naturally, at 5 years old a startled Narmbaye anxiously listened to his father when he woke him up in the middle of the night and told him that he should give up soccer, Chad’s staple sport, for basketball.
Narmbaye’s older brother, who played international ball, tutored the shoeless, gangly kid, showing him the basics on an indoor court at their elementary school.
Joseph and Mordomti Awa never got to see their son make it any further.
On August 12, 2002, Mordomti and Joseph were at an Evangelistic Campaign in center city, N'djamena. As they stood and celebrated with fellow Christians, trucks filled with unidentified gunmen shot at the crowd. Mordomti and Joseph died in the shooting, along with many others.
But Narmbaye couldn't afford to sulk.
Facing a precious choice between starvation and school made sure of that.
After living with his older brother and his family for a few years, Narmbaye walked into the dead heart of Africa alone, ready to fend for himself.
Narmbaye left central Ndjamena one summer to help his grandparents sell crops in South Chad.
He shuttled between school and the city life in south Chad, selling rice, corn and yams, staying with various friends along the way—a 12-year-old entrepreneur without the riches or suit and tie.
He used the earnings to either save enough to pay for school, sacrificing food, or to purchase fruits, vegetables and rice to keep him from being hungry.
On the days he chose school, Narmbaye walked miles to class and sat with a hundred students in a room filled with long, flimsy desks, learning English, math and physics, scrambling to write in his notebook as others stared into textbooks.
Narmabaye didn’t envy the kids whose parents could afford school supplies.
Instead he sat, head down, and prayed wondering, “Who will I be tomorrow?”
Playing basketball for the Comets, Narmbaye planned on traveling with the team from Nigeria to Angola and then to Senegal to pursue worthy competition.
Alone in his Lagos, Nigeria bedroom, Narmbaye slept, as cut out magazine pictures of Shaquille O’Neal and other NBA players adorned his wall.
Narmbaye usually dreamt about those same players. But not that night.
“That night I had a dream,” Narmbaye said. “I saw a very tall guy—I couldn’t see his head, wearing a white dress. He stood next to me and said ‘Roman.’ I responded ‘huh.’ The tall guy said back, ‘From now on your life will be so much easier.’”