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Inside/Out with Melania Chiponda, Chiadzwa Community Development Trust
Kubatana.net
January 18, 2012

Full interview with Melania Chiponda - Read and listen

Describe yourself in five words
I'm a person who fights for what I believe in.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
Keep on keeping on.

What's the most ridiculous thing you've ever done?
For the interview for my first job, they asked me to describe myself. I said things that I don't want to repeat. Now I think, ‘What was I thinking?!'

Interviewer: Did you get the job?

I did, surprisingly!

What is your most treasured possession?
One thing I treasure most about myself is that I say things as they are. I don't understand why people want to call a spade a club.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
When I'm not allowed to express myself.

Do you have any strange hobbies?
I enjoy talking to rural women. They are very authentic in who they are.

Interviewer: What have you learnt from the women you've spoken to?

Most of the women I've spoken to seem to be ok with things that I personally wouldn't be happy about. I wouldn't sleep if there were an injustice against me. But they are at peace with that. I'm not sure if that's a strength of a weakness.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
Sometimes I open my eyes very wide.

What is your greatest extravagance?
I spend a lot on laptops.

What do you have in your fridge?
There are plenty of vegetables and fruits. I'm doing a health reform programme for myself. I only buy meat when I need it now.

What is your greatest fear?
I'm afraid for my daughter. She's very quiet, not like me. I worry that people can toss her around. Like now she's at boarding school. I don't want people to take advantage of her. I don't worry about my son. The world is not so cruel for men, but for women it can be so, so cruel.

What have you got in your pockets right now?
I don't have pockets, but in my bag, I have a cell phone, a pen, a handkerchief, spray, lotion and a diary.

What is your favourite journey?
When I used to work for the government some colleagues and I would organise a bus to go down to South Africa to shop. The trip was exciting because we'd get a chance to talk and express ourselves. It was de-stressing.

Who are your heroes in real life?
My mother. Not just because she's my mother. In 1980 she went back to school. She used to tell us how bright she was at school, but they only chose two girls from her school to proceed on to high school. So in 1980, when the government said anyone who wanted to could further their education, she did. She eventually became a lecturer at Kwekwe Technical College and from there she joined industry. All of this with six children. So my mother is my hero.

When and where were you happiest?
When I gave birth to my first child. Believe me, it was love at first sight.

What is your biggest vice?
When I set my mind to do something I do it. Even if people tell me not to do it, I'll always find a way.

What were you like at school?
I was a bully, but not a physical one. I could really bully people by talking. I think it was a defence mechanism because I was so small and I didn't want other people to pick on me.

What are you doing next?
I'm studying gender with Women's University and I want to pursue a doctorate in Gender studies.

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