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20 Questions with Zambia's Pennipher Sikainda-Nyirenda

1. Why Did You Pick The Career Path That You Did?

It is a career that I would say is in-born. I remember when I was very young (about 5 years old); I enjoyed watching television and more especially news presentations. Later on, I would read along using the little New Testament bible which my parents had given me. I would even use the mirror on the wardrobe my parents’ had in their bedroom as my practicing platform. By the grace of God, today I am living the dream of being the person ‘in the television’ as I once wished to be. I will be clocking 10 years of professional journalism practice in June 2016 with experience in both radio and television broadcasting.

2. What should every woman try at least once in her life?

A visit to the Victoria Falls in Livingstone is a must do! The waterfall is located in the Southern Province of my beautiful country Zambia and is not only a spectacle to watch but offers a great adventure walk on the knife edge bridge accompanied by a refreshing natural shower from the mighty water splash.

3. What is on your bookshelf?

o The Holy Bible

o How to win friends and influence people - Dale Carnegie

o The Art of Public Speaking - Dale Carnegie

o Echoes of Inspiration - Dario Chongolo

o Becoming a Titus 2 woman - Martha Peace

o Lead Me, Holy Spirit – Stormie Omartian

o Pathway to Purpose for women – Katie Brazelton

o Secrets Unveiled – A story of Love– Brenda Muntemba

4. What item in your closet do you wear the most?

There is a black jacket which I surely wear too often. In my view, it fits perfectly on most of my outfits. Interestingly, my husband even banned me from wearing it at some point ;)

5. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

 

I am a full-time soccer fan. I support our local football team Zesco United and in Europe my team is Manchester United. Another interesting note here is that my husband doesn’t even like football as much. 

 

6. What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

Speaking my native languages. I am not very fluent in our local languages and I sometimes struggle to communicate with certain people hence I wish I had learnt them when I was younger.

7. What is your beauty secret?

Away from my sizeable makeup collection, I was taught an easy facial scrub by my sister in law Mercy. It provides relief to my skin. It actually involves the use of maize meal mixed with water to form a paste. After scrubbing for a few minutes, it’s washed off with cold water. You can basically feel your skin breathe. It’s very effective!

8. What’s the biggest personal change you’ve ever made?

I think it would be embracing make-up away from the natural looks I was used to as I was growing up. Other than that, living for myself, accomplishing what makes me happy and not letting my life to be run by other people.

9. What motivates you to improve yourself?

My husband has been a great motivation. He has helped me to improve and see myself on the bigger stage – a platform higher than I would have placed myself. He always reminds of the inner strengths and abilities God has deposited in me and I should attest that I have made tremendous improvements in my work, education and approach towards life in general.

10. What are some struggles you faced in your life that came about because of your gender?

My capabilities were usually undermined because of being female. Here I recall when I was working at the Zambia Postal services. There was a unit where only men were known to work but I demanded to stay in that section long enough to compete with the guys I found. Instead of the few days most women served in that section, I managed to work for six months hence breaking the record and notion that women couldn’t manage that task. In my journalism career, it was more about themes to be covered. They could not trust me with covering technical topics as they were linked to men only. At the first TV station I worked, I made it as the first female to join the business desk on which I was very successful.

11. Who and What are some of your Influences?

I am influenced by the inner desire to advance in my career based on the conviction that talented people from the African continent can impact on the global stage.

12. Do You Wish You Could have Done Things Differently if given the Chance? Please Explain

I do wish I could have attained high education qualifications to support that inner will to grow in the journalism career. However, a challenging upbringing with limited financial resources made it difficult.

13. What and Who Inspires You?

I draw great inspiration to advance in my career from CNN personality, Christian Amanpour. As a young reporter, I could see her covering volatile situations and I saw myself in her shoes. Even as she has progressed to a Chief International Correspondent interviewing high profile newsmakers, I still get inspired and I believe one day I will be like her.

14. What Do You Count As Your Greatest Achievement?

I would point to the opportunity I had to be on a panel of three African journalists (on which I was the youngest) who interviewed the former United States of America Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in 2011 for an exclusive program that aired on the eNCA channel across the African continent. Linked to that is being selected in the US Mentoring Partnership for Young African Leaders of which I was one of two Zambian representatives in the programme that lasted 3 weeks in different states in the US.

15. How have you overcome struggles and/or insecurities?

I have overcome most insecurities and struggles by facing situations head-on. If people think I can’t run a certain distance I push myself so hard to show them I can make it as was the case with the male dominated workstations I mentioned earlier. I believe that even though I am a woman, God has deposited greatness in me. The bible says I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.

16. In your experience, what do you think are some of the prevalent issues women face in everyday life, professionally?

The most prevalent is the traditional belief that women are inferior. There are people who still believe that women cannot rise to decision-making positions let alone lead multi-national corporate entities. Secondly, there is the inadequate recognition of outstanding female personalities. In addition, African governments haven't done well in implementing policies they devise and those they assent to which hinge on appointing a substantial number women to decision-making positions. Thirdly, women still don’t seem to work together as expected.

17. What Do You Think Needs to be Done to Address These Issues?

African leaders should help women by dealing with traditional beliefs that hinder the progression of women. Traditional rulers should be engaged in sensitizing their subjects on how the modern woman fits into the development landscape. African governments need to actualise policies they have signed which are meant to place the majority of women in positions of influence. As women, we need to lift each other and be more supportive. Often times, we fail to do that and the men end up laughing at us. We have to give each other credit where due and support those who are ahead or outstanding among us. We also need to recognise and publicise accomplishments women have made as can be seen from publications like Forbes who have gone out of their way to create an edition specially meant to recognize outstanding women.

18. What Would You Tell another Young Woman who wants to go down the same path that you have chosen?

Journalism is a career path that is anchored on passion. We draw fulfilment from the articles we publish or broadcast and not financial gains. In my country, journalism is not even a high paying job, but many of us join the profession as a result of wanting to fill the information gap which our society faces. You have to love the job before anything else.

19. What do you do to give back to your community?

Currently, I am working with my husband Nathan Nyirenda - who is a renowned gospel musician - in an outreach program targeted at helping prisoners. Individually, I am in the process of setting up a mentorship outreach program which seeks to empower young men and women with media skills. Occasionally, I give motivational talks to individuals and groups of young people. I am also part of the media team at church.

20. If you could tell young women one thing, what would it be?

Don’t ever sell your body to obtain favor. True and lasting favor comes from the Lord Jesus Christ. Preserve your body as a living sacrifice.