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with Catherine Makoni, Zimbabwean civil society activist and writer
November 01, 2006
yourself in five words?
Strong, black woman with an immense amount of love and fun.
the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
My earliest memory of my mother giving me advice is of her encouraging
me to get an education and work, and then l would be able to give
myself anything l wanted. Looking back it wasn’t the words, but
the values underlying those words. I grew up with a belief that
education was important. I never doubted that l could be an achiever
in that regard. I believed that being self-sufficient and economically
independent was a natural part of my destiny. Because she would
always say, "just wait until you start working", I never
thought l needed someone to take care of me. That has stood me in
the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever done?
In 2002, l accepted a consultancy assignment which required travel
to Kariba. No problem there except that l was nine months pregnant!
Needless to say, l travelled the 365 km to Kariba, checked into
the hotel on the evening of the 26th. Checked out two hours later.
Checked into the local hospital and delivered a strong, opinionated
baby girl at 7.20am on the 27th! When the workshop participants
came to visit me later that morning, their facilitator was engaged
in a different role! l was out of hospital by lunchtime. Let’s just
say, l fulfilled an assignment of a different nature.
your most treasured possession?
Faith. It is the assurance of things hoped for. The conviction of
things not seen.
you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Loss of hope /resignation. Hope feeds our dreams and our aspirations.
It is the stuff that makes us wake up every day, day after day and
go out to face a difficult world.
have any strange hobbies?
I am not sure… What would qualify as strange? Is an affinity for
light fluffy, meaningless romance novels strange?
you dislike most about your appearance?
It has to be my weight… it’s a losing battle (no pun intended).
your greatest extravagance?
Custom made teak furniture. I will scrimp and save for it, but l
reckon it is worth it. And because l cannot leave my daughter a
trust fund, this is the next best thing!
you got in your fridge?
Come on, do you need to ask? This is Zimbabwe, the land of hyperinflation
and power cuts. If l kept any perishables, they would perish from
the incessant power cuts. But then again perhaps that’s just as
well, coz the hyperinflation has taken away my capacity to "stock
up" on anything. So in a word? Water and some vegetables that
look like they are mutating into a living life form!
your greatest fear?
Failure and not necessarily in material terms, but as a human being.
you got in your pockets right now?
My handbag (which is my pocket) has a novel, facial tissues, Vaseline,
lipstick and face powder, work-related reading material, cellphone,
flash disk and money. I figure this is enough for any emergency!
your favourite journey?
Travelling to the Eastern Highlands in Zimbabwe. Absolutely nothing
beats those majestic views and the fresh clean breeze, except maybe
your heroes in real life?
My mother. What she has survived and defeated would leave most people
insane. I wish l had half her courage and determination. My father
- for going against societal norms and believing in his girls.
where were you happiest?
Would it be a cliché, if l said when l fell in love? Honestly,
what can beat the can’t eat - can’t sleep - does he - doesn’t he
- butterflies in your stomach sensation you get in those heady days?
your biggest vice?
Sweet things, with sleep/laziness a close second
you like at school?
I was a different person at different stages in my school life.
In primary school l was seemingly effortlessly brilliant (even if
l do say so myself!) In high school, l applied myself in the subjects
l liked, so l did brilliantly in them. I wanted to study law and
no one could convince me that l needed Mathematics to do so. Bunking
Math class earned me a couple of counselling sessions with my school
principal and class advisor! But l was beyond redemption. The result?
For my GCE ‘O’ level, 6 As, 1B and a dismal U in Maths. ‘A’ level
saw me frantically studying. Some people convinced my friends and
l that getting into law school was tough so we had to really excel.
Boy did we burn the midnight oil studying! I swear if exams were
written in December instead of Oct/Nov, we would have had serious
breakdowns! I have always theorized that this has to be the reason
why when l got into law school, l immediately went into my lazy
phase. I guess somewhere in my subconscious was the thought that
all l needed was to get to law school and now that l had, l had
it made. I did enough to pass my exams and scrape through university,
but that was it. My most fervent prayer was uttered round about
exam time and results time. It went something like this " Dear
God, please make me pass and l promise that next year, l will start
studying at the beginning of the semester and not wait for exam
time to cram. Amen." But l don’t like being average so come
post-grad, l was back to being distinction material!!
you doing next?
Hopefully a PhD. My father has always wanted a doctor and I’m determined
to give that to him, albeit not exactly the kind of doctor he had
in mind. But a doctor is a doctor right?
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