Former Austin resident wrote book on native Africa

Published 11:22 am Friday, August 23, 2013

Former Austin resident Nathan Banda wrote a book called “Moments that shaped my life,” about his migration from Malawi, Africa in 2002, when he was 29 years old.



Banda’s life was filled with failures and successes, but through it all, he maintained his belief in education while living in poverty-stricken Malawi.

In 1998, he moved to South Africa to pursue environmental science at the University of South Africa. However, even there, Banda could not attain the life he desired. In 2002, he started plans to move his family out of Africa.

Email newsletter signup

“The unemployment rate is high [in Malawi], and you are not guaranteed a job,” he said. “I did not succeed in getting my dream career, or getting what I want to do.”

It took six months to get the paperwork finished for his visa, and in 2002, he left his wife and child and ventured to the U.S. in pursuit of his goals. He had thought of going to the United Kingdom or Australia, but Banda had family in Minnesota, so it became the most practical choice.

“Luckily, my wife has a cousin who is based in Minneapolis,” he said.

Minneapolis, however, wasn’t the environment Banda needed. Banda was interested in nursing and radiology, so he researched online and discovered Riverland Community College, a college that offers both. One week after he arrived in Minneapolis, Banda moved to Austin to pursue an education at Riverland. Six months later, his family joined him.

Banda said he faced most immigration challenges fairly well, but he did not anticipate the drastic climate. Having grown up in a tropical country, Banda was unprepared for Minnesota’s winter.

“In December or so, I was in for the shock of my life,” he said. “That was a challenge.”

Banda and his wife had two more children in Austin, and Banda said his family coped fairly well with the new environment.

“We were juggling between family, school life and work in the new environment,” he said. “We did extremely well in that.”

Like all the other challenges Banda faced as an immigrant, he managed to pull through.

Banda continued his education at Riverland and by 2008 graduated as a certified nurse with an associate degree in liberal arts. Even with a nursing degree, however, Banda’s challenges were far from over.

“Getting hired into a hospital was a little challenging,” he said.

Banda found a hospital in Alberta, Canada that had an opening, so he applied for the position and was hired.

“I wanted to do work in a hospital setting, and I got my chance to work at a hospital,” he said. “There was an opening…I tried my luck, and I was hired at Drumheller hospital.”

Banda finished writing his book last March, and it was released in July.

“I hope it gives people inspiration,” he said.

Banda plans to return to Austin this November for a book signing at the library, but official dates have not been set.

Although Banda now resides in Drumheller, he said Austin will always be important to him.

“We call Austin our sacred home because that is where our life in North America took its shift,” he said.