'The World Isn't Made for the Sad'

Words provided by Pam Ndumbi in recognition of Black History Month

Pam Ndumbi. 


Throughout the month of February, MRU is presenting a collection of the voices of Black writers in our community in recognition of how words have the power to both build and destroy identities.


Fourth-year MRU English student Pam Ndumbi came to Canada with her family from Lusaka, Zambia, when she was five years old. Even though she was very young, she remembers the experience well.

“There were lots of changes. I went from seeing a ton of Black people around me to now being the only Black kid in a school of 400 people,” Ndumbi says. “We had to adjust because we were told that certain traditional practices, like eating with our fingers, made us look primitive.”

Unsure of how to express her reaction to being “othered,” Ndumbi found an outlet in writing.

“Writing gives a voice to the people who don't quite know how to articulate the type of world they live in,” she says. Creation with words allows people to create connections with others “because we forget that our stories are a lot more universal than we think.”

Ndumbi says that in addition to writing’s ability to see yourself in others, and have others see themselves in you, it’s the difficulty of the craft that also attracts her.

“Writing allows me to push myself past my comfort zone. I have to be vulnerable in order to create something that's authentic.

“You want to make sure that at least some of your writing is reflective of the times you were living in and the barriers you face, because history often repeats itself. Other people are going to be motivated when they see that a writer went through something and was able to create art from it, and so they can make something great out of their circumstances, too.”

Recently, Ndumbi became a Facebook certified community manager and is one of three admins for the group Born Zillennial, which is aimed towards people born in the 1990s who feel too old to be Gen Z and too young to be a Millennial. Helping to moderate a group of 198,000 people has built Ndumbi’s leadership and problem-solving skills, she says, in addition to strengthening her expertise in content creation and audience strategy.




“The World Isn’t Made for the Sad”
A List Poem


I hate getting ready in the mornings.

I don't want to go to school.

The kids make fun of my hair, clothes, voice, looks,

Everyone thinks I'm so uncool.


I hate getting ready in the mornings.

I don't want to eat what my mom cooks.

The kids eat pasta, bread, chips, fruit,

But my lunch gets all the funny looks.


I hate getting ready in the mornings.

Not a single kid in this school looks like me.

I see yellow, white, red, beige.

They say my skin’s a disease.


I hate getting ready in the mornings.

My teacher said Negro out loud.

She reads about the slaves getting beaten, lynched,

the kids call me the N-word on the playground.


I hate getting ready in the mornings.

No one will sit with me on the bus.

The kids talk of sleepovers, hangouts, boys, girls.

While the seat next to me collects dust.


I hate getting ready in the mornings.

I go to the library to feel safe.

I read Seuss, Munsch, Berenstain, Park.

Hoping for a little escape.


I hate getting ready in the mornings.

I want my old life back.

I miss my friends, house, block, teachers.

I miss not wondering “what’s wrong with being black?”


I hate getting ready in the mornings.

School is only a small part of the picture.

I won’t cry in front of my brothers and sisters.

I won’t cry in front of mom and dad.

They’ll tell me the world isn't made for the sad.