Zimbabwe author pens book, visits ‘family’ in Red Oak

Nick Johansen
The Red Oak Express

A Zimbabwe native with Red Oak ties has recently penned a book.
The book is titled, “Promise Me-You Will Take Care of Your Brother: A Memoir of Faith, Dreams, and Everyday Miracles.” The author, Fungisai Nota, came to the United States in 2000 to attend college at Simpson College in Indianola. At college, he met Red Oak’s Andy Rea, and in the summer of 2001, stayed with Rea and the Hollen family during the summer break. He’s stayed close to the Hollen family ever since.
Nota said the book is a memoir that chronicles his external and internal life journey from the time of his birth until 2015.
“The year 2015 is special because that’s when I resigned from my formal job to start my own business. The book pays special attention to my mother, the lessons and the legacy she left me, but also pays tribute and gratitude to a lot of other individuals who played a pivotal role in helping me along my journey, and highlights the power of very ordinary people to make an extraordinary impact in the lives of other people,” said Nota.
The title of the book also carried a very special meaning to Nota. They were his mother’s last words to him.
“I was only 11, and she was very ill. My brother was only two years old. The last time I went to see her, just before I left, she pulled me close and asked me to promise that I will take care of my brother. That was the last thing she said to me before she passed,” commented Nota.
While the first draft of the book didn’t take long to complete, Nota said it sat untouched for a while before he proceeded further.
“It only took about four to six weeks for the original draft, which I wrote in 2020. It sat on my desk for a year, and then I went back to it. When I wrote the book initially, I was just going through the narrative of what happened. When I went back to it after a year, I did some more internal reflection. What did that mean to me? How did it change me? Now instead of a narrative, it’s showing how I was changing as an individual inside as well,” Since he lost his parents at an early age, he said he always wondered if they were alive, what they would be teaching and telling him. When he had his own child in 2013, Nota said he wanted to start a legacy for his child, and that led to his memoir.
“I decided on every birthday for my son, I’d write him a letter. When he was one, a one-page letter, two, a two-page letter, until he was 21, and then keep them in a safe and give him all 21 letters,” Nota said. “In 2020, my son was turning seven, and I had to write a seven-page letter. It made me reflect and ask what I was really trying to say in these letters? I realized what I was really trying to do was introduce my son to the extended family he never met, share the lessons my mother and grandmother taught me, and the major life lessons I have learned on my journey. I didn’t stop at seven pages, I decided to just make it into a complete story, one that wasn’t cut up into letters, and write it into a book. It really motivated me to try to create a legacy for my son that helps him understand where he comes from. I believe understanding where you come from will give you a foundation to really be the best version of oneself.”
As he put the story together, Nota said some parts were easier for him to put to the page than others.
“The easier parts were when I had to reflect on the people who are still alive who helped me along my path. It was easy to go through my experiences in Red Oak and how people came together. When writing about the passing of my mother, that was challenging, as well as writing about the challenges and tribulations that she went through. The most challenging thing was understanding what it meant to me, and how it changed me internally, as a person, when I was experiencing all these things,” explained Nota.
Nota reflected on when he first came to Iowa, and said it was Andy Rea who was instrumental in making him feel welcome.
“When you’re an international student, it’s hard to make connections with other students because you don’t know anybody. Andy is friendly and caring and started a conversation with me and we became good friends. During summertime, he said he was going home and asked if I was too. When I said my home was thousands of miles away, and there was no way I could go home and come back, he called his mom and asked if I could come home with him for the summer and stay with them. They said yes, and they welcomed me in.”
In addition to providing him a place to stay, they were also a key part in helping him meet outstanding financial needs that weren’t covered by his Simpson College scholarship.
“I met Kim Robinson, who was then the human resources director for what was called CDS. She gave me my first formal job, working and processing magazine subscriptions in Red Oak,” Nota stated. “I also started going to church with Andy and his family, and the church wanted to help me because my scholarship was not covering everything. There were missionaries in Pennsylvania doing bake sales to help me cover the tuition, and the Red Oak community decided they wanted to do their part and hold bake sales and fundraisers to help me cover the difference.”
During that summer of 2001, Nota said he got to meet a big part of the Red Oak community, who made donations and held fundraisers to assist him. Even now, Nota said he has a great affinity for Red Oak and a great appreciation for what the Red Oak community did for him.
Nota visited Red Oak Sept. 9 and spoke to students at the Red Oak School District, and held a book signing. Nota said he’s planning on making his visit an annual tradition.
“We’re going to go to the football game in Iowa City, and I’ll bring my family and stay in Red Oak for a few days every September,” Nota said.
Nota is the founder and CEO of Nota Consulting Group, LLC, which he started in 2015. He said he is pleased he could start a business, hire people, and make it a success. However, he felt one of his greatest achievements was when he became a father.
Copies of Nota’s book can be purchased at the Pudgy Pumpkin Patch Gift Shop at 512 N. 4th St. It’s also available on Amazon at amazon.com/Fungisai-Nota/e/B09MJS6SZL/ref=aufs_dp_fta_dsk, or through Target and Barnes & Noble.
Nota said he is beyond grateful to people like Andy and his family, the Red Oak community, and Frank and Wini Dressler, the missionaries who helped him come to the U.S.
“I can honestly say that my life, and the lives of my extended family are much better because of everything they have done for me. I think God uses us, very ordinary people, two answer the prayers of others. I want to thank them for helping answer my prayers, and I am inspired by their work and to see how I can be used by God as well, to answer other people’s prayers. I hope I can continue to give gratitude to the people that lifted me up, and use gratitude as a lubricant to a happier and fulfilling life. If you live a life of gratitude, it’s very hard to always be upset. I feel very blessed and pray that I continue to find my life’s meaning in serving others. The book pays tribute to those still living and those who have passed who played a pivotal role in what my life is today.”

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

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