Category Archives: Africa Rising

AFRICA RISING – FUTURE LEADERS: My Experiences as a Journalist by Charity Musa

Charity and I worked together at a Chinese telecommunications multi-national company in Zambia. Not only is she an astute business-person and a rising star in the company, she is also a professional journalist. She juggles it all, and very successfully! It is truly an honor to feature her story here on my blog as well as a sample article she wrote about a farmers’ workshop sponsored by USAID and Agritech Expo below.

My Name is Charity Musa, a Journalist from Zambia. I have been practicing Journalism since 2004. Ever since I was a little girl, I always wanted to become one because of the journalists I used to see on television. I guess I would say that I was fascinated by them.

During my childhood, I had a powerful fantasy of being a journalist and my role model was the famous Zambian journalist by the name of Maureen Nkandu. Whenever I would see her read the news on television, in my mind I would think, “I want to be like her” — an influential journalist.

I envisioned my future. I guess what they say in the famous Video ‘The Secret “Thoughts become Things” worked for me. “I BECAME.”

Writing stories has always been my passion because it brings me inner joy to my soul, I have always wanted to tell a story and be heard. When I do not write, I feel like something is missing and writing stories energizes me. I get excited like a little kid that is about to be given candy by her beloved aunt.

So let me tell you a little bit about my journalism experience, I worked for Zambia Daily as a part time journalist from 2004 until the beginning of 2008. While working there, I did my freelancing for Sila Press Botswana as well and I appreciated the experience because people in Botswana read stories about my beautiful Country Zambia.

And in 2006, I did a Southern African Media Training Trust (NSJ) journalism exchange programme with Namibia Press Agency (NAMPA) and I did an internship with New Era Newspaper for two weeks. It was a great experience. I got to learn more from the famous Veteran journalist who hailed from Zimbabwe, the Late Farai Munyuki, who was in charge of the programme at NAMPA for the Journalists from different African countries.

After 2008, I freelanced for UKZAMBIANS magazine writing mostly entertainment Stories and wrote a few articles for Huawei People Magazine and The Post Newspaper.

While I was working part time for Zambia Daily, I was trained by the best journalists like the Late Nigel Mulenga, Newton Sibanda, Joy Sata and Steven Phiri, who made sure I wrote stories well.

Nigel made sure I had a first lead story in the paper. I was so excited and honored. Here I am, a part-time journalist working for this National Newspaper. I wrote a lead crime story, which was read by millions of people that day. I like to imagine that more than a million read the article. After all, we can always dream, as we are so great at fulfilling our dreams through our visions.

That day was one of the most exciting days of my Journalism Life! Subsequently, I had the privilege of covering the Late Zambian President Dr Levy Mwanawasa. Can you imagine how I felt, a junior reporter being tasked to cover the President of Zambia? Those assignments were usually given to senior journalists with more Experience, but they trusted me enough with my colleague Barbara Mukuka to do the assignment and we did it with perfection. I think we wrote better articles than any other media outlets that day!

In conclusion, I would say, writing keeps me sane and happy, as it makes my mind more active and creative. I cannot imagine myself living a life without ever penning down a story because am very passionate about it and I believe that I make a difference with this passion.

Finally, below, I have included a sample article that I wrote about a farmers’ workshop held by USAID and Agritech Expo. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me via email: charitymusa@hotmail.com.

AGRITECH EXPO AND USAID TO HOLD EMERGING FARMERS’ WORKSHOP IN ZAMBIA

By Charity Musa

US. Agency for International Development (USAID) says Zambia is becoming a real hub for emerging commercial agriculture in southern region.

Due to its commercial agricultural sector development, Agritech Expo in conjunction with USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub is holding an agriculture Expo in Zambia.

USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub Director of Agriculture Robert Turner said in a statement that the two- day free technical workshop programme will take place at GART research centre in Chisamba, Zambia from 4th to 5th April 2014.

Mr Turner said about 50 emerging commercial farmers from Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique are expected to attend the workshop.

He further said the workshop was designed particularly for small holders and emerging commercial farmers to provide them with the basic information and context to better understand the technologies that would be available and on display during the workshops.

According to Mr Turner, “the Southern Africa Trade Hub is part of the US government’s Feed the Future Strategy, and our focus is both on the competitiveness of regional agriculture and on food security. As part of Feed the Future, the US government is focusing support on the following countries under the Trade Hub’s umbrella: Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. In all three of these countries, small holder farmers make up the majority of staple food production, but they all suffer from very low productivity. Our support to the Agritech Expo is part of the Trade Hub’s regional approach to improving productivity among emerging commercial farmers and small holders.”

Mr Turner said it was important for the farmers to attend the workshop for them to adopt new agriculture technology.

“This includes improved seeds, fertilisers and mechanisation, and the Agritech Expo represents a sustainable, commercial mechanism to allow farmers access to these technologies. Because of Zambia’s commercial agricultural sector development, a wide range of companies representing a range of important technologies will be at the show. These technologies and services are needed throughout the region, and we want to support the show to be a regional resource.” He said.

Most of the emerging farmers, from the three countries, that have already signed up for the programme where eager to broaden their knowledge and make contacts at the Agritech Expo in April.

   
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AFRICA RISING – FUTURE LEADERS: My I.T. Aspirations by Thabale Ngulube

My good friend Thabale wanted to introduce himself on my blog. We worked together in 2012 in Kitwe, Zambia, where I was conducting research and working for a Zambian-owned mining construction firm. Thabale is a skilled website programmer and worked for a popular company that assisted us with website design, among other tasks. It truly is an honor to feature his story on my blog.

Thabale Ngulube: I’ve loved Information Technology from a very young age and have always believed it to be the “future”. I first started learning  I.T at ZCAS (Zambia Centre for Accountancy Studies) where I did IMIS (Institute for the Management of Information Systems) and worked for almost 4 years mainly doing data management at CHESSORE (Centre for Health, Science and Social Research) and sometime later worked for Talktime Multimedia were I mostly did web page designing and some office administration.
Currently I’m studying BIT (Business Information Technology) and hope to become a software developer so can fully grasp Application Development and I have a few ideas of how I can contribute to the development of my country by mainly streamlining how things are done. One time I helped design a prototype database for storing hospital patient records which basically was computerising the input and storage of data thereby, minimising the paperwork needed for the same task and saving costs in terms of stationery but unfortunately I didn’t get to fully finish it as my work contract was expiring. Now that I’m working with fellow students, I have encountered many inspiring ideas like for example one of my friends wants to do a food management system which could assist his mum run her business more efficiently. He’s thinking of developing a tuck-shop software program to calculate: 
Management of activities mostly involving 
Keeping track of profits 
Inventory checks to ensure the accurate number of items in stock
Knowing the amount of ingredients used in making foodstuffs
Sales for future projection and therefore limit uncertainties on the direction of the business
I was thinking about the tenant – landlord relationship which can be quite rocky at times especially in low cost urban areas especially it comes to paying up and what the exact amount owing is. I thought of building an app which can send monthly reminders to tenants to automatically alert them in good time to make the necessary arrangements to pay up their rents with the stated due amounts and would also allow for mobile-payments if the tenant happens to be away. However, on this side of the world smartphones are out of the cost range of most people who would probably utilise 3% of the phone’s capabilities and therefore see it unnecessary owning one. 
But the same app could still be developed on the already existing cell phone platform. Tenants can be reminded via the SMS facility which a lot of people are familiar with. The challenge is that not everyone is well-educated or literate as in, they are unable to read or write properly. In order to overcome this problem, I’d recommend a voice-messaging approach in a local language which the person can understand. Much like the way how the mobile service provider, MTN for example, currently sends random special offers to their subscribers using this technique by calling the subscriber.
Another situation I hope to address is the agriculture sector when it comes to fertilizer distribution by the government or some farming cooperative. Most of the time when farmers come to get their bags of fertilizer they have to wait many hours or even days when making follow-ups which mostly leads to them sleeping over at depots or other places longer than they have to.
Again I’d propose the SMS-alert app which would select registered farmers in a batch-processing technique so that the number of people coming over is controlled and farmers can make the necessary arrangements. For those that cannot manage to make it on the expected day, they will be carried forward to a free pickup time-slot after the second batch of farmers is dealt with and so on.
The challenge I see here is how these small scale farmers will reach the pickup point because most of them stay in far flung areas where transportation is difficult in terms of distance. As a result most of them may come late only to be told to turn back because they missed their slot. Also, mobile phone network coverage in some of these places is non-existent and these farmers may get their SMS alert when they move to where there’s a signal and by then it may be too late.
This is possibly the area Chinese investment can address in terms of I.T. infrastructure i.e. platforms  and equipment which will enable communications instead of retail businesses which have flooded the market. However, that may not eliminate the problem fully because there’s also the issue of I.T education because most people here feel intimidated by I.T technology when they don’t understand how it works or how they can benefit. There are places offering I.T knowledge but he way how its marketed usually does not take into account the common man who doesn’t live in the posh suburbs.
Another one of my friends’ hope that one day when he’s started his own firm, he’ll give back to his community in the form of Corporate Social Responsibility with the aim of educating and empowering people to reach their full potential. If I.T investment is made a priority, Zambia could be a technological wonder much in the same way South Korea is. Obviously that won’t happen overnight but like everything that has a beginning, things have to start somewhere with the first step.

Inspirational Life Story of a Zambian Entrepreneur

I just re-connected with a Zambian friend, whom I met when I first came to Zambia in 2007. I met him when he was a budding campaign manager for one of the presidential candidates. Now, he is the owner of three businesses, looking to start a new venture in the broadcasting business and is as passionate about his work as ever. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the concept and practice of emotional resiliency. What makes someone resilient, despite the daily challenges they face? How do they re-interpret difficult events in their lives to motivate them to persist and continue to achieve their goals, even when it involves taking paramount risks? In Zambia, I constantly encounter individuals who possess this strength, a testament to their ability to bounce back even in the face of economic and social vicissitudes. Most often, they start with nothing or very little and build an enterprise for themselves. I have captured the life story of one of the most resilient people I have met in Zambia. He has dictated to me his difficult childhood, his political involvement, his belief in entrepreneurship and his life philosophy.

Background

My dad was a agricultural officer also a preacher man, so he volunteered part of his time for God’s work. I was brought up in the church. At the same time, my father moved from [my] province to about 160 km from Lusaka and he settled there without any relatives. He married my mother. We grew up in a village where Dad was helping farmers selling produce. The road networks were bad. We had no vehicles; we used to walk to school barefoot. I remember crossing a stream and we had to cut a tree so we could create a bridge to walk to school everyday. My father repeatedly lost jobs here and there. Where we lived, there was a marketing company. My father was marketing grain on behalf of the government and he later lost his job at one point and that company changed into a new cooperative. He joined the cooperative movement and that closed down, so he changed and went to a different company. He was retrenched and this is the sad part of my life.

My father was retrenched when I passed from grade 9 to grade 10 in another district far away from our home. My father suffered meningitis and he lost his memory and he lost his speech and he couldn’t talk. He was admitted to the hospital for a long long time. One time my brother was taking care of him, and I remember he jumped from the top floor and he hurt himself on the spinal cord. I continued with my schooling. It was a difficult time that when we closed schools, I would not get any transport money so I had to go on the road to hike from truckers or I would jump on the train TAZARA to get transport. By that time, my dad had died. My mother was a housewife. I had challenges to go to school so I had to cross the border to Tanzania to buy plastics to come and sell here to raise money to go back to school. It was difficult to continue. I couldn’t concentrate properly in school. I had to try and ask to put with family to continue with school. I dropped out for some time, but then I continued. I was associated with NGOs and the Young Farmers club and this enabled me to further my education out the country.

Political Activities

Because of my troubled background, I didn’t like the suffering I went through and what I saw in my siblings and other people who were equally underprivileged. I thought there was a way to fight this. This inspired me to join the NGO sector, the civil society. But I saw there was limited contribution one would make from NGO sector and I needed to jump in mainstream politics to change the status quo. I started my political career while at school and I worked closely with UNIP and I learned how to organize at the local level and participate and critique policies which I can help to fine-tune and deliver the interests of the masses.

When I graduated grade 12, I went to university and decided to stop. I had a challenging time. So I started an organization called Lusaka School-Leavers Self-Help association. With that, I always believed that when people leave school, most who are underprivileged, that’s where the breakdown of life begins. To the contrary, I thought we should keep these people and bring this organization to the Lusaka City Council. I thought we shouldn’t sit at home doing nothing; let’s go clean our cities. In order to keep ourselves active, we participated in the Keep Lusaka Clean Campaign and I remember going to the radio to speak about that campaign. This informs you that I never believe in self-pity. Self-help means that you get up and do something. Don’t let your life pass you by.

I later continued my civic and political involvements by joining UPND when we were just starting in 1998. I was involved with the youths. I thought they should speak out against joblessness by participating in the electoral process to cast their vote where they think their hopes and aspirations lie. I was already politically active. From there, my political career just continued.

Motivational Philosophy

My entrepreneurship spirit comes from always want to see a better situation. I’ve always liked to innovate. I don’t like to do what someone is already doing. What excites me is doing something new and changing lives with it.

I’m an enemy of self-pity. I don’t like people who pity themselves. I always feel that a human being shouldn’t say I can’t do anything. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I feel that I must do something unique to change lives and I hope that I can remembered as someone and kept on trying until my last breath on earth.

You see, I grew up in a family where our firstborn was not that successful. And I didn’t like that the this person I looked up to as his sibling. after my dad has passed on, was not doing so much. I felt like somebody must fight for this family as well. The way to fight is knowledge, secure education. And not education in the literal sense. I see the entire world as the largest classroom ever on earth. This is where you learn about life and I believe in the principle that South Africans say umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu, a human being is only a human being when he cares about others. So really, I have a socialist approach to issues because I find that very close to my African setup. And so right now, at my home, I take everybody who wants to come and visit me. I take care of my nephews. The extended family to me is not a burden. I can give them shelter, food and take them to school, and with education, they can open their own horizons. One day, they can be successful, more than myself. I believe the best is yet to come. No matter what I succeed myself, I have not arrived at the best. The best is yet to come.

On Resiliency and Entrepreneurship

I grew up in the village. My grandma lived in game management area and we grew up in wildlife arrangement where lions, hyenas, elephants were story of the day. By that, I had a lot of lessons from my grandma who said, when you are walking along the path, you meet a lion, don’t show it you’re scared because it can eat you. You must show the lion you’re not scared of it. That’s teaching on self-esteem.

I was also taught that when you go to the river and a crocodile attacks you, if you can find the tail of the crocodile and lift it above the water, you can drag the crocodile to the surface to the banks of the river because I was told that if you let the tail of the crocodile, it will defeat you. If you lift it up, you can struggle to the banks of the river and when you’re at the banks oft the river, get a stick, stick it in the nostrils of the crocodile and you’re safe. That’s survival skills.

Coming to my entrepreneurial spirit, whatever any man does to live, I too can do it. So why should I go to look for someone to create a job for me? Why can’t I create a job I’m looking for and employ somebody. Further, I have come to understand from my travels abroad that what makes the best way out of poverty is production – meaning entrepreneurship, and any form of production. My friend told me I have so much potential and that any human being is an unfinished product with room to improve everyday. That has been my principle all along. Whatever I’m doing, if it’s not good today, it will be better tomorrow.