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Demystifying Demons

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[Trigger Warning: Suicide] When Zambian law student Mulemba Mulando’s best friend commits suicide, it sends her into a spiral of grief and guilt. But her own healing process ultimately leads her to becoming the kind of friend and advocate her friends and her community needed.

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Mulemba: When you have mental health issues, they’ll say, “No, this person has demons, let’s take them to the church for prayers”. But, like, this is a disease, it’s almost like going for prayers to get malaria healed when you need to take drugs.

[MUSIC]

Lesedi (narration): Mulemba Mulando is a 23 year old lawyer with a side hustle. Born and bred in Kitwe, Zambia, she’s become quite the mental health advocate on radio, TV, and on social media. Law wasn’t a career she initially saw for herself, but her friends and family, well they said she was a natural fit.

Mulemba: Growing up, I’ve been that girl who is the mediator at home, because my dad is very strict. And so if you need to get anything from him, all my other siblings would send me. When it’s coming from me, you know, being the last born, you know how to talk to your parents, so he would always agree. And honestly, at the time, I didn’t feel like it because I said, all lawyers are liars. I’m happy I went that route, because I love, love, love law.

Lesedi (narration): Mulemba uses her mediation skills to get audiences to see different perspectives, challenging those who think mental health is not a Zambian thing. She asks hard hitting questions, and supports young people on her Facebook page and in a bunch of WhatsApp groups.

Mulemba: Sometime early this year, 2022, we went into the community as young people to ask our community members what they think about mental health, their opinions, whether or not they know what mental health is. And the responses that came out from the young people in the communities was that in our homes, you are not allowed to be sad, you are not allowed to cry. When you say it’s mental health, they just say, “Uh-uh uh-uh. In Africa, we don’t have mental health, that’s a white people thing. Here, we are strong, you don’t need to cry. You don’t need to be sad, you don’t need to be weak because when you cry, you’re weak. You need to be brave and strong. Africans are strong people.”

Clearly, they are not. When you look at the rates of the suicide cases and the increase, how rampant it is, you can see that these are black people. These are Africans that are killing themselves. How is it a white people thing?

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