Roselyn Makhambera is station manager for MIJ FM. She is also a single mother, thriving to deliver the best to both her worlds. CHIKONDI KASAMBARA finds out how Makhambera juggles motherhood and work responsibilities.
Tell me about yourself.
I am a proud single mother to three-year-old Donatella, which means God’s given gift. I say proud because I don’t waste time complaining about being alone. Rather, I work tooth and nail so that my daughter doesn’t lack a thing. I was born in 1981 in a family of five. I am the third born. I am lucky to have both my parents Raphael and Mercy Makhambera. I also have a twin sister Sylvia who serves in the military. I’m Catholic and congregate a St. Peter and Paul Chilobwe parishes.
What is your education background?
I went to St. Joseph Primary School, Police Camp Primary School in Zomba and St. Theresa Primary School in Liwonde. I did my secondary at Mlanda Girls Secondary School and obtained my Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) in 2000. I started pursuing journalism at Grefa Communications. Malawi Institute of journalism (MIJ) then advertised for a certificate course and I was one of the lucky few to be picked. That is where I did my certificate and diploma in journalism. After my qualifications, I secured a job with MIJ FM, but also proceeded to do my Bachelor’s Degree at the Polytechnic and graduated in 2010. Soon after obtaining my degree, the position of station manager at MIJ FM fell vacant and I applied. I wasn’t sure I was going to be picked, but I am a risk taker. I was not only the youngest candidate at interviews, but also the only female candidate. I succeeded and assumed the position in 2011.
Who inspired you to become a journalist?
It was Eunice Chipangula, formerly of the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), but I got the fighting spirit from my mother. Every time I listened to Eunice casting news or conducting interviews, I envied her and thought she was such a brave woman. She fired tough questions. My mother always encouraged me. She was a teacher then, but now an activist working with the Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre. From her, I learnt that it is never too late to try new things.
How did you react when you got the job?
When I got out of the interview room, I had more doubt than faith that I would make it. I was competing against veteran journalists with many years of experience. Some little voice kept telling me that being a young woman was an added advantage because it meant fresh ideas. I was scared to death because I had never held any senior position. I must indicate that before joining MIJ FM as a part-time employee, I worked for Power 101 FM and Malawi Business Magazine. I braced for tough times, but as years go by, I haven’t encountered anything I cannot handle. My fears were in vain.
How challenging is your job?
Any mistake made on radio, simple or grave, goes to millions of people in the shortest period of time, so, care has to be taken. This is what I deal with every day. Unfortunately, people go on air with different moods and motives and I have to ensure professionalism at all times. Being a station manager isn’t so different from being a mother where I have to bear my subordinates’ errors. There are a lot of radio stations; hence, it’s not easy to stand out to widen the listenership base. So, I make sure I never run out of ideas to keep my station afloat.
What are the exciting aspects of your job?
The radio business is about entertaining, educating and informing the masses. In the process, I am informed, entertained and broaden my knowledge on issues. I like to keep abreast of things, so, I present programmes such as Good Morning Malawi, an infotainment, Tikadalipo-where prisoners are given a voice- as well as easy listening at lunch. I don’t want to supervise my juniors based on my past experience on radio, but to keep updating myself so I have a better understanding of what is supposed to be done.
Any cherished memories?
There was a day while I was with Malawi Business Magazine that I literally slept at the office. The magazine was being printed in South Africa and we missed the deadline due to transportation problems on
our way from Lilongwe. This wasn’t just any other magazine with entertainment news, it was a business magazine full of paid up articles and we had to finish articles to send to South Africa for printing. Our editor came in the morning around 6 am and found us still working on the articles and this was after we worked throughout the night.
Share the experiences of being a single mother.
It’s not easy to raise children alone, so, the only way to survive is not to think about it. All things being equal, children should be raised with both parents, but I know as people, we don’t always get things we want, when we want them. There are those lonely and dull moments, but I don’t let my daughter see them. I act all heroic because that’s what I want my daughter to become. I earlier said I’m a fighter, but I don’t fight useless battles. I want to be a role model to her so I don’t want to make mistakes that would affect her. At three, she has so many questions why there’s no man in our house because maybe most of her friends are talking about their fathers. I am very tactical in responding. She is young and I don’t want to overload her brain with answers that will confuse her or give her too much trouble digesting.
How do you balance between your job and motherhood?
I wear too caps, I never forget that. I’m a woman working for the betterment of the life of my daughter. At the same time, I’m her adviser, so, I give my all to both my duties. I wake up very early to prepare my daughter for school and work. I drop and pick her up, so, I make sure to manage my time well so that none of my commitments suffer. There are times when managerial meetings run longer than expected, that’s where her nanny comes in. I work throughout the week to create time for family during weekends. I hate to be disturbed during my family time, I must say, that’s why time management is a must for me.
Any advice to single mothers?
Don’t spend your entire life stressing over things you can’t change. Be as productive as you can to raise your children in the most decent way you can afford. Don’t rush into affairs as pay back or back up plan. Single mothers can do better than that. If single mothers are to succeed, they must work their way up and not complain or be bitter about the past. Children look up to us, so, let’s be exemplary.
How do you spend your free time?
I like reading and watching TV. I’m in the Gregorial Lectors Club at church which is a Bible reading club and was recently awarded for my excellent reading skills. Briefly I’m at home or church during my free time. n