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Sunday, July 9, 2017

How Russian son traced father to Dar!

Denis Krupenev poses with his father William
Denis Krupenev (kneeling second left) and his
By Citizen Reporter @TheCitizenTz
Dar es Salaam. Denis Krupenev was born in Russia, of a Russian mother and a Tanzanian father. But he grew up not knowing who his father was until he took the initiative to search for him in Tanzania.
One year after he went back to Russia from the Tanzania his father, Shambogo William Isaiah Kitundu, died, Denis told The Citizen in an interview last month.
In 1980, Elena Krupenev who hails from the Smolensk Region met Kitundu while he was studying medicine in Pyatigorsk, a city located south-western Russia. Elena was then studying a course on foreign languages.
“The gallant African conquered the heart of the daughter of a Soviet pilot, they fell in love and started talking about marriage,” Denis say.
After graduation it was time for the young doctor to return to Tanzania to serve his country but Elena was already pregnant.
Kitundu suggested that she goes with him. But before accepting the invitation, Elena decided to consult her parents who said no.
“You are too young to leave Russia. Stay here until you give birth and we will see later what happens,” the parents told her, according to Denis.
“Before I was a year old, as my mother told me, my father wrote her letters, sent with money, and then the connection broke off, my mother and my grandfather moved to Sochi,” recalls Denis.
Denis says growing up as a dark-skinned boy in Russia’s most famous resort city was not a problem. No one discriminated him against.
After studies he joined the army and rose to the rank of the commander of the tank and the deputy commander of a tank platoon.
“I also studied music at the insistence of my mother. I was also engaged in boxing, which is quite expensive. We lived modestly, on a foreign language teacher’s salary,” he says.
When he was a boy he sometimes earned some money through washing wind shields of cars in busy roads. He did this with his friends.
But what preoccupied Denis all this time was how he could re-connect with his father. His mother had told him everything about him and that he was living in Tanzania.
But after all forms of communication had been broken years ago Denis and his mother realised that it was almost impossible to find him.
“After I finished military training I visited friends in Moscow who advised me to go to the Embassy of Tanzania to try to re-connect with my father,” says Denis.
At the embassy he was told to inquire again a month later. When he did so he was politely told that his issue was not a state matter.
Attempt number two
“In 2013, on the advice of friends, I again tried to find my father. I did not go to the embassy this time. I hammered his name on Google. To my surprise I was able to find some documents from the Tanzanian ministry of Health that gave me a lead to work on,” Denis narrates.
He called the ministry. The man on the other end of the line, hearing his father’s last name, answered briefly: “Call back in 15 minutes.”
“These minutes flew by like seconds,” Denis adds.
When he called back he was able to get the mobile phone number of his father. And he, immediately, made the call of his dreams;
“Hello is your name Shambogo William Isaiah Kitundu?” “Yes.” “Did you study in Russia?” “Yes.” “I’m your son, Denis.”
At first there was silence from the other end of the receiver, Denis recalls. And then Denis’ mother grabbed the phone and screamed: “William, it’s me!”
Both Elena and Denis did not know that Kitundu had been retired for two years now, and that the official in the ministry of Health was able to get his mobile number only because Kitundu was in the ministry that day following up on his pension.
Denis says if he had called hours later, he might never have found a way to re-connect with his father.
In the telephone call with his father Denis learnt that he had younger brothers and sisters in Africa.
“It turned out that after my father’s return to his homeland in Tanzania, there was a military conflict going on with neighbouring Uganda. He was mobilised,” Denis says. That could have been the reason for the break of communication.
“After the war, he married, and now I have five siblings. My mother did not marry, she devoted her life to my upbringing,” Denis says.
Flying to Tanzania
He flew with his wife to Tanzania where they were warmly received. For a week they were taken to all his relatives.
“I got to know my father better and this helped me to know my origins well,” Denis says.
“It became clear to where I got this desire for independence, hard work and a desire to help others, “Denis notes.
He shared with his father, he says, the love for hot pepper.
As they were departing Tanzania Denis and promised his father that he would bring his two children and his mother, Elena, in the next trip.
However, the plans did not materialise.
One night, a year after the visit Denis received an international call;
“Dad is dead. You should come for his burial,” the voice from the other hand said.
“I took the first flight I could get and that same evening I flew through Moscow aboard the Emirates to Tanzania. I arrived in time for the burial ceremony,” Denis says.
“When I paid my last respects to my father, I remembered the most important step in my life when I dialed the telephone number of the Tanzanian ministry of Health,” he adds.
His father died before he could officially formalise Denis’ adoption. But he still carried part of the identity of his father because his mother had registered him in the birth registry office as William Krupenev. William being his father’s first Christian name.
His half-brothers told Denis after the funeral that he was entitled to part of their father’s inheritance.
“I refused money”
Now Denis has started the process to adopt his father’s name. He plans to change his name to Denis Kitundu instead of Denis Krupenev.
He says he also plans to take her mother to Tanzania to see her ‘new relatives.’
The relatives are eagerly waiting for her. He would also take his two children to see Tanzania.
“My nine-year-old Daniel looks very much like his African grandfather, only he is white-skinned,” Denis says.
Lesson learnt
Denis says the biggest lesson he has learnt in this experience is not to despair in anything in life. Looking for his father had seemed like an impossible task, but upon perseverance it became possible.
“You must not be afraid to take the first step towards your goal,” he says adding,
“My history of searching for my father proves that everything in this life is possible even when it seems that everything is against you.
“After finding my own father and siblings, I started feeling quite differently. I became more confident with myself, because I came to realise that I had a big African family behind me,” he says.


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