A new month, new things! Welcome to June Konnect Africans!
Guess who is in the house?!
She is the daughter of the Zambian President, a 20-year old with a Masters Degree, a young woman driven to make an impact in and far beyond Zambia’s borders.
Stella Mutale Sata is the creator of the StellaProject, which showcases brilliant change-makers and inspires future change-makers whilst actively searching for change-makers in rural communities or excluded communities who may otherwise remain in obscurity because of infrastructural and other hurdles.
In this no-holds-barred interview, Stella tells us about the challenges and joys of the new Zambia, her life as the daughter of a President, why she inspires young people, her achievements, failures, and her faith in this generation of Africans!
Learn. Think. Act. Repeat!
KA: Your philosophy of life is?
I take care of God’s business and He takes care of my business.
KA: What are your fondest memories of childhood?
Spending time with my grandmother was my favourite thing. She taught me how to read in Bemba (my language) and at 8 years old, I was the youngest Bemba reader in church reading in the adult’s local language Mass. My grandmother also used to tell me stories (utushimi) which had proverbial morals at the end while she cooked. I relished every moment and I would always look forward to coming back home from school to spend time with her.
KA: Educational accomplishments? Career goals?
My greatest educational accomplishment to date is completing my MSc in Management and Development of International Financial Systems. Apart from the pride of being a 20 year old with an MSc, knowing I worked extremely hard to get 9 out of 11 distinctions in my course and to complete the thesis even when I was exhausted, tired and demotivated gives me great joy. I have a Ba (Hons) in Accounting and Finance and a Diploma in Business Administration too. Maybe in the near future, I shall complete the remaining levels of my Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Charter, which is a professional course for finance and investment analysts, or pursue a PHD; I am still deciding whether I want to go the academic route or the professional route in education.
Career goals: “The (unemployed) graduate must not seek employment but create employment.”- Botsalo Morotsi.
That is my ultimate career goal; to create employment.
KA: What do you love most about Zambia? In present day Zambia, what are the challenges and sources of inspiration?
I love the work ethic and spirit of Zambians, every one, everywhere is trying to make a living, to provide and to develop. When you go to Soweto market, you’ll see the man who rents out gumboots in the rainy season and wonder- why didn’t I think of that? When you drive from the rural area or vice versa, you’ll see the men and women who take the night shift to sell tomatoes, mushrooms, and fish to the traveller who may have forgotten to get some when they left their village. It is both sad that people work without rest and inspiring that they will not sit at home and whine or complain but they will do their best.
Young people are getting much more engaged in all areas of governance and development. Young people are starting businesses and seeking to grow different sectors from agriculture to finance to engineering. We are networking with people from other parts of Africa. Also, people from the Diaspora are returning home. Did you know that the 2011 elections had the highest participation of young first time voters? We are not being left behind. 99% of children are completing primary school education. All these things are beautiful and inspiring.
Some of our challenges include the lack of electricity in over 70% of the country yet our country exports electricity to our neighbours. We have water issues as well. Most of Zambia’s employment comes from the informal sector and the public sector. There is a need to facilitate the sustainability of growth in the private sector and to transform informal jobs into formal jobs in order for people to be able to earn a reasonable and steady income.
Our political climate is also a challenge at the moment. We are hailed as one of Africa’s inspiring democracies with a smooth transition of power but we still have the challenge of reducing fragility when political wheels change. If we stay on as the democracy that we are, we will need to find ways for continuity when new governments come to reduce the issues of having to always start afresh with every new leader.
This can only be done if and when the opposition and the ruling parties stop viewing each other as enemies and the former stops condemning every policy made by the latter but instead, they begin to engage in constructive debate on policies. This will ensure that in the event that the opposition does take over power, they are aware of certain policies and they do not have to U-Turn on them and start all over again.
KA: Rights, privileges and duties of a first daughter?
Zambia does not formally recognize the rights, privileges and duties of the children of the incumbent President and hence we have different President’s children living their lives as they see fit. I believe that as a first daughter, I am an ambassador of my country and I am an ambassador of the Zambian family unit. Therefore, it is my (Self- given) duty is to be an example of how a Zambian child must behave and carry him or herself. I keep this in mind in everything that I do.
KA: Is Politics a path you wish to tread in the future? Perhaps make history by being the first female President of Zambia?
You’ll have to keep an eye on me to know for sure. No Spoilers hahaha…
KA: A great leader must…
Remember that leadership is a call to serve and not an opportunity to blow the self-importance trumpet.
KA: You are a source of inspiration to young Zambians…why?
I think I inspire because of my academic achievements, my community involvement and through my personal life. I have taken people on my journey and I have not filtered myself in any way so it could be argued that people draw some inspirations and lessons from my life.
KA: You chronicle stories of Africans on your Facebook page: Stella People you call them…
Yes, Stella People. This was the first stage of the StellaProject; a Project that seeks to inspire future change-makers and to showcase and profile current change-makers. Stella People are brilliant young minds below the age of 40 (the oldest so far was 30) who are doing amazing work in their field and their country.
The inspiration for the StellaProject came from Opportunity Desk which has a monthly young person of the month. Before and after I was featured as the Opportunity Desk Young Person of the Month, I was always looking forward to reading who it would be. It reenergizes me when I see people breaking all boundaries and going for what they want and impacting lives in the process. So I started Stella People to in a certain way supplement this. Stella People is more frequent than Opportunity Desk’s Young Person of the Month and can provide inspiration on a daily basis.
The StellaProject is not only about showcasing brilliant change makers but also actively searching for change makers in rural communities or excluded communities who may not be documented because they do not have access to the Internet or because of other barriers. With a team from West, South, East and North Africa, I would like to find these young people who are living offline and impacting lives, and bring their stories online, mentor them and provide technical and financial support to their causes.
The StellaProject also wants to bring projects from different African countries to Zambia and take projects from Zambia to different African countries- starting with Uganda and Guinea Conakry. I have partnered with Reach a Hand Uganda and I am looking forward to going to Uganda to brainstorm on their projects and see how we can work together.
I have also partnered with Le ProjetEcoute in Guinea Conakry. I chose Guinea Conakry as the pilot West African country because it is somewhat excluded amongst West African countries. Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana have well known and well documented change makers but it is difficult to come across Guinean ones. I have met over 10 amazing Guinean people and I know that we need to network and document the change in Conakry. It is a country developing fast.
KA: Do you believe your generation has what it takes to make Africa a continent of fulfilled dreams, of hope and growth?
YES I DO. Our parents walked so that we could run. We are running so that our children will fly.
KA: Despite the many challenges of Africa, there are people like you who insist on lauding positive narratives; what difference would it make whether or not we told Africa’s stories?
The world needs people like you and I. One must always tell their story, in their own way and not allow people who do not understand it to tell it. We need to show the Africa that has been hidden away.
KA: What are your greatest achievements and most disappointing failures?
My greatest achievement to date was my BA (Hons) in Accounting and Finance. I started it a week after my mum had her first stroke and my Mum was not fine for the majority of the period that I was pursuing it. It was also during this period that I experienced my most difficult heartbreak after having dated someone for over 3 years. In my last year, I had a falling out with my Dad as well so it was really pouring in my life. Between thinking and praying for my Mum; crying and mending my broken heart for a former lover and best friend and having problems with my Dad, I have no idea how I kept sane. I do thank God that my Mum is healthy now and that my relationship with my Dad is back to normal and maybe even better than before.
My most disappointing failure? I still haven’t finished the book I had scheduled to have finished writing by June 2013.
KA: 5 things your friends would be shocked to learn about you?
I can’t swim!
I drink 5 litres of water a day.
I eat sweets every day shamelessly…
I have never watched the Titanic or Avatar.
I know how to cook. (They would be surprised because the only friend I have cooked for – twice – is Janice). I would still prefer they cook for me though.
KA: Inspire a young African in one sentence?
Don’t let your food get cold worrying about what is on my plate.
*Catch up with Stella via: