Ms. Christiana Chundung. (Credit: Facebook)
A lecturer at the School of Communication Studies, University of Uyo, Christiana Chundung, who became a news sensation for selling potatoes amid the ASUU strike has said she also baked and hawked bread as a graduate.
In a four parts story she posted on her Facebook, Ms. Chundung told a thrilling story of her struggle for survival after she left her N20,000 teaching job due to her health.
She tells the story of how she started bread business with N2000.
Christiana Chundung who hails from Plateau State holds a Master’s Degree in Mass Communication with specialisation in Business and Organisation Communication.
The “Chundung bread” story is published verbatim below.
I had to quit my N20,000 teaching job because I was struggling with my health and shortly after, my parents moved to a new station.
No income, unfamiliar territory, and living alone with the parents. Final definition of frustration!
A whole graduate will still be asking for money from my parents for offering, sanitary pad and some simple things like razor blade!
I knew if I didn’t get anything doing real fast, I would ‘die’ of depression.
On my birthday, a “Toaster” came. When he was leaving, he put on some music and asked me to dance.
Just for peace sake, I danced and he sprayed me with plenty N20 notes!
By the time he left, I counted the notes and it was N2000! From being broke to having (Urgent 2k).
I was thinking of what I could accomplish with the 2k. But as I looked down on the notes, I felt I wouldn’t ‘squander’ the notes, I’d rather invest this 2k.
My main reason was because I felt some of these notes might be ‘cursed’. My Toaster was a mobile policeman & I knew how this N20 notes came about!
So I looked for an envelope & kept the notes.
Lord what can I do? What do I do? I had applied for jobs in the schools around but not one of them got back to me.
I really don’t know how the idea of making bread came about, but I sat with Mummy and I told her I would like to start baking bread to sell.
My Mummy is the greatest motivator of all time! As far as she is concerned, everything is possible as far as you are willing to put in the work!
(She had made homemade bread and sold when we were growing up, she even had a local oven built in our house)
She asked me if I had the money to start. I told her I had only 2k!
She laughed and said Ok.
A few days later, Mummy called me and we began to discuss on how I would go about the business.
We already had bread pans at home.
The main thing I needed was an oven. We had given off the small local oven we had when we moved so here was a challenge.
We have baked cakes and bread with pots over stoves and charcoal so Mummy suggested a half drum with lid!
There were enough large logs of firewood so that was covered.
Mummy volunteered to go to Jos main market to ask for the half drum.
She collected my 2k and off she went!
She came back, not only with the half drum, (Which she carried on her head from the roadside to the house) but with the ingredients for making bread!
(The half drum was N1800)
Boy was I excited, and so was my Mum!
(My Dad was just looking at us suspiciously, he knows that when we are so excited about something, he really is in trouble, because he will be the one doing the ‘odd jobs’🤣).
So after arranging everything, I asked Daddy to pray over the business before I commenced and he gladly did, still suspicious though…
His major concern was, why he would still be asked to be buying the bread that would be produced in his own house with his own firewood 🤔(I had made that clear to him from the onset!)
It was really tedious. Washing the pans clean, trying to get the measurements right and just preparing to make the first batch.
A lot of “firework” burning the logs first before using the charcoal… My Dad kept looking on. I could see he wasn’t comfortable with the stress I was undergoing, but my desire to be financially free at last kept pushing me on. I really was just happy.
I did it! Got my first batch of bread. Generally they came out well, apart from a few that will always ‘misbehave” and my Daddy was on ground, as the Quality Assurance person, tasting ‘away’ those that didn’t come out right!
So, the bread was ok, I had packaged it and ready to sell. But there was a problem though. A very huge one! In my excitement and discussions with Mumsy, we never discussed on how I was going to sell!
It was in the afternoon, when she came back from work, she saw the bread neatly arranged on the dining table. I was waiting for her to come with ideas.
All she said was “Madam, this bread will not sell itself in here o. You have to find a way of selling!
Here I was, with nice looking, fresh tasty bread but inside my house because I didn’t think of how I was going to sell it!
All my excitement disappeared and ushered in feelings of discouragement. The fatigue I had incurred in the preparation, baking and packaging just engulfed me all at once.
What to do, I really didn’t know, untill Mummy came up with an idea…
My Bread Story (Pt.3)
Every single day, apart from Sundays, as early as 6.am, immediately after morning prayers, Mummy Fide* (Not her real name) will come calling.
Mummy Fide was our neighbor. She sells different kinds of vegetables, ranging from fresh onions, tomatoes, pepper, our spinach/’aleho’ (Green vegetables), garden eggs and all what not.
She usually carries it in a big pail on her head and goes round the neighborhood. Most of the time, starts from our house. She will shout her greetings by the door and name all the vegetables she has and ask you which one you want.
Even when you don’t want to buy, you will buy! She will coax you and remind you that you need the vegetables for lunch later. Because it’s so early & most times people have not even figured out what to prepare for lunch yet, they just buy.
If you don’t have money, she’ll give you on credit and time you at the end of the month! She knew when salaries were being paid!
Sometimes in less than an hour, she would be back with an empty pail! She’ll get more and still go back!
Now to my mother’s groundbreaking solution: FOLLOW MUMMY FIDE WITH YOUR BREAD!
Haba, a whole graduate like me, carry bread on top of my head and be following my neighbour to sell bread!
E no reach like that na, I thought to myself. Is it that bad? I’m not so desperate now, or am I not?
Of course I won’t do that. I won’t! I couldn’t just imagine myself carrying bread on my head! Even this my mother sef, won’t she be ashamed that her daughter is going round the neighborhood with bread on her head?
What will people say, what if ‘mistakenly’ one of the students I was teaching spots me, or my classmates? No I won’t. Lai lai!
As the sharp girl that I was, I looked for a stool and placed it outside our door. I arranged the bread and kept it outside. If people come into the church compound for one activity or the other, they’ll see the bread, and they will buy.
Long story cut short, quite a few people saw the bread, admired it & didn’t buy. The few that bought was because mummy took it for women fellowship and convinced a few women to buy.
We ate the rest.
I was sad. I tried again & same response. Again and same response.
It’s time I thought of what Mummy said.
I went to Mummy Fidelia and told her I would like to be following her early mornings to sell my bread.
She said it’s ok, I should just ensure I’m early.
But, what will I use to carry this bread? I can’t use a tray like a common bread seller. What can I use?
Then I remembered my plastic laundry basket, it’s brown, it has a lid and a handle!
I quickly washed it very well. I baked and packaged my bread in the evening. Early morning before morning prayers, I neatly arranged my 50 50 naira homemade bread in my basket, ready to go and sell.
And by 6:am, basket in my right hand, purse in my left, I waited for Mummy Fide.
My heart was pounding. How should I react? How will I be shouting buy bread early in the morning in people’s homes?
Was this really a great decision?
We went to the first house. Mummy Fide shouted her greetings as usual, announced her wares and ended with ‘har da breadi’! (Meaning plus bread).
The lady said ‘Mummy Fide’, when did you start selling bread?’
She replied, it’s not mine, it’s for our Pastor’s Daughter!
The woman and her husband opened the door, looked me over strangely and shame wanted to kill me at the moment.
He was an Usher in our Church!
I saw it on their faces: the Usher and his wife. Curiousity! They greeted me with some kind of caution and asked about my parents. They
asked if I baked the bread myself and I said yes.
They asked for the price and bought two!
On we went with Mummy Fide! She walks very fast, shouts her greetings, announces her wares and my bread.
She knows almost all the people in the neighborhood. She’ll tell me ‘this person won’t buy’, this house the woman is stingy, that one will just waste our time, that house has only old people etc.
I was learning.
Some will tease her that she’s disturbing them early in the morning with her vegetables, but at the mention of bread, quite a few really stepped out and checked. Some bought.
My fear and trepidation was melting slowly, I was gradually gaining some confidence and of course my purse was bulging little by little.
I came home with only a few loaves. I was very happy and tired. But I prepared for the next day. I was motivated. I had made some good sales.
The next day we went again, and the next and the next.
I started going on my own. I knew the houses to avoid, I knew those to go to. I tried out other houses on my own. Some people started booking against the next day.
I started shouting early mornings too. I was beginning to also joke around with my customers. I got some positive reviews and some not-very-nice once. I kept trying to improve daily.
Some days the bread will turn out nicely, some other days, the bread will fall or burn!
One of such days, when I saw how burnt the bread was, I was so disappointed and discouraged. I didn’t know what to do. It was just a sad sight.
I went inside and wept. I was just weeping and wondering why I am undergoing this stress.
I love God, I have not lived badly, I didn’t do so poorly in school, I am not getting any job, now see me, a full graduate, burning myself up and down for what???
And this University sef! Since when did I apply for my Master’s Degree, can’t they just call let me just leave and go back to school?
Other people whom I felt I was better than in school had gotten jobs and living the lives of their dreams, here I am, with burns on my hands here and there. How much am I even making after all?
And downward I spiralled.
Mummy came back home, saw the bread and came to the room and started encouraging me. She said these things happen, even to the best of businesses, some days they also ruin stuff, but I couldn’t just lie down feeling depressed.
I told her I didn’t feel like continuing again.
She now reminded me of the customers whom I will disappoint, especially a particular older gentleman (God Rest His Soul) and quite a few that are always waiting for my fresh bread for breakfast.
By the time I stepped out filled with Mummy’s encouragement, I discovered the bread wasn’t even as bad as I thought. Mummy scraped off the burnt parts on some and told me to just explain to my customers the situation and probably just discount it for them.
Truly the next day I went to sell that bread, the whole bread was bought and some of my customers were even angry that they didn’t get!
Mummy bought me another half-drum. She was cheering me on. I had started with a few Mudus of flour, now I could buy a bag of flour and making some bulk purchases of ingredients.
On Sunday in church, tithers were called out to be prayed for, I stepped out with my small tithe. At least I could pay my tithe and buy my small small things.
I approached one of the major shops and started supplying. They asked me the name of the bread, I hadn’t thought of one.
They named it ‘Chundung Bread’.
Business was expanding, some were coming home to buy, I had to get another basket for my distribution. I had become shameless.
Some laughed, some were encouraged, a lady came to me to teach her and it was a challenging but great experience.
My Dad was becoming very uncomfortable. He saw the stress, my dark skin colour was becoming darker because of fire exposure.
Daddy called me by name during family devotions. He was not his usual jovial self. When Daddy calls you by name during morning devotions, it is serious.
‘About this your business…’