If one ever thinks that life is not a journey or that journalism is not a world on its own, They haven't lived yet...or made the journey. Tamara Mkandawire – Chafunya is one lady that knows the road through media very well and this is the story she has to share with OTULI MUNLO.
Where (and when) were you born?
I was born here in Malawi at the Kamuzu Central hospital on July 9 1981.
Give us a brief break down of your educational and professional background?
I went to Rivonia Primary School in Sandton, South Africa and Blakiston Junior School in Harare, Zimbabwe. Then I did part of my High school at The Girls High School in Harare Zimbabwe. I completed my high school studies at St Andrews International high School here in Malawi.
Soon after my IGCSE, I attempted studies in Travel and Tourism before switching to Business Administration. I was then employed by Television Malawi as a TV Presenter and also worked as a part-time Radio announcer for Capital Radio.
I went through A series of training including one by the SABC and Armarc in Professional TV Production in South Africa, Television Broadcast training at Television of Tanzania, Training in News Writing and Television / Radio Production and Professional News Anchoring by the BBC and Thomson Foundation.
During the course of work at Television Malawi I studied further in Public Relations and Personnel Administration at the University of Malawi-the Polytechnic. I have served Malawi Television in several positions such as TV Producer, Deputy Head of Presentation, Assistant Public Relations officer and Marketing Executive.
I have had a privilege to work for Endemol and Mnet of South Africa on a two-year contract as a field presenter for Big Brother Africa 2 and 3.
What title do you operate under and what does your job entail?
I am working at the Lilongwe City Council as the Public Relations Officer. My job requires formulating and implementing media and public relations strategies to improve the interface between the city fathers and its citizens, investors, charity organizations working and operating in the city.
What are the challenges in the profession you have chosen?
Biggest challenge is to accommodate every concern brought in by people and the media on quality of service delivery. In time where resources are still not enough one faces the big challenge to explain why some things are not being done as expected. But most of these challenges have to be turned into opportunities.
What did you initially want to do with your life professionally? Why?
I had always wanted to become a radio broadcaster or an actress. I always wanted to be a media practitioner when I was growing up in school; I never missed my speech and drama lessons, I knew I had a talent in me.
What keeps you going?
God gives me courage and it's the courage keeps me going. I have a supportive husband and children. Together we are a very prayerful family and it's this connection with God that we keep weathering the storms and keep going on.
What would you like to see happen for you in 10 years to come?
Ten years from now, I want to see myself become a role model to thousands of young women in Malawi and help them uplift themselves to where they want to be. I want to see myself learn more from the current best women in order for me to become an inspiration to others. I would want to write motivational books and have a great and inspiring TV Talk Show.
How would you advise young women to operate in any industry if they are to make it and make a name for themselves?
It's easy to make or break your name, and it's easy to give up a good fight if you don't believe in yourself. I come from a family of five girls and am the last born, raised by a single parent (mum) and been able to see her wear a thick skin to be where she was, to take her children where they are today. To the young woman out there with dreams and aspirations, life is a battle, with a smooth and bumpy path, curves and bends, fast and slow, but with God and with self-esteem, nothing is impossible. It's not as easy as it sounds but regardless of your background, have a dream, and colour that dream so something out of it comes to reality as one famous painter Pablo Picasso once said 'everything you can imagine is real.' Use every opportunity for education and further studies given to you and always stand out, always do well and doubt not.
How do you relax during your free time?
I always dedicate my free time to my husband and my sons; we play games together, cook and watch TV. On Sundays we go to church then visit our relations, do homework with the kids or simply have some quality family time.
What is your favourite local getaway?
My husband and I always fancy Lake Malawi escapades residing at a family friend's private beach home. We have our public life but we make sure that our kids are not exposed to the public life at the tender age so we keep them away from the public by giving them fun in a family set up.
Give us one of your favourite quotes.
My favourite quote is; "No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care." Theodore Roosevelt.