Ruth Butaumocho Gender Editor
Growing up in a military camp where appearance and conduct represented a form of self-discipline, Angela Machonesa was not miffed by the martial process.
Rather than groan and express displeasure for the “militarisation” of the first 15 years of her life, she drew strength, pride and inspiration from the experience.
That alone proved to be the first of her lifetime choices she took based on principle, giving her trail of success she now enjoys today.
Angela is the communications manager for Plan Zimbabwe, joining a clique of emerging female managers in the non-governmental organisation world.
She was recently promoted to interim Plan International’s communication and media specialist for Eastern and Southern Africa.
“The militaristic virtues that I learnt while living with my parents at Inkomo Barracks influenced who I am today.
“The environment instilled in me responsibility, discipline and order, which have become some of my greatest attributes and helped me to be where I am today,” she revealed in an interview recently.
Apart from being the communications manager for Plan Zimbabwe, she has been at the forefront of championing the cause of the girl child and has been actively involved in a number of awareness programmes for girls.
While campaigning for the girl child is one of her organisation’s mandate under Plan’s global campaign “Because I am Girl,” Angela has transcended her normal call of duty as attested by her passionate involvement in different programmes by various organisations that are held throughout Zimbabwe.
“It is common that girls have been disproportionally disadvantaged over the years and yet society seems to have normalised their ill-treatment.
“They (girls) are treated as the other, and even when they are still very young and need to be nurtured, they are already burdened with adult responsibilities, leaving them with no time or space to be just children.
“It is for that reason that I want to champion their cause and ensure that their aspirations are well taken of. It is even worrisome that girls are invisible especially the adolescent girl who is no longer a child and not yet an adult,” she said.
Not only has she been aggressively pushing the agenda for the emancipation of the girl child, but she has become a familiar face at several national events such as marches, demonstrations and other campaigns that are held in support of girls.
Angela believes that the total emancipation of the girl child lies in empowering her through education and the inclusion of men as stakeholders in girls’ emancipation.
“Educating the girl child is one of the most effective ways of ending poverty, delaying marriages and ending pregnancy for your girls.
“I learnt that whilst I was still very young and barely in my teens, that education was the foundation for everything.”
At that young age, Angela realised that if only she could push resolutely the outer boundaries of what was possible to achieve in her life like getting a good education, she knew that other barriers and precincts would be easier to overcome.
And she did that. Growing up in a family of five children, with four of them being girls, it also dawned to Angela that she also had to fight for relevance and recognition.
“I knew I had to excel in school and set out to do something different from the rest of the girls I grew up with. I wanted to be a lawyer,” she said.
As a high-spirited girl, both charming and intelligent, her ambition saw her scaling her parents’ expectations by excelling in her academic life.
Even her teachers identified her unique leadership skills resulting in her being appointed the head girl for Chinhoyi High School, barely a year after enrolling at the school for her A-Level studies.
Encouraged by the responsibility instilled in her at school, Angela decided to enrol for a journalism degree at the National University of Science and Technology, a course which she felt would give her a bigger platform than law to champion the cause of the marginalised.
“I realised that if I could not defend people as a lawyer, I would still be able to articulate their issues more elaborately and even get better results.”
Soon after leaving university she never got an opportunity to learn the drills of a “proper” newsroom and immediately joined Mighty Movies production house in 2008 as a producer of the business programme, Talking Business, then anchored by Cde Supa Mandiwanzira, who is now the Minister of Information, Communication and Technology and Courier Services.
“I remember him (Mandiwanzira) one day walking up to me and saying, ‘You know what, you are smart’.”
The words alone affirmed Angela’s conviction that she was destined for great things in life, marking a turning point in her life.
She was not further from the truth.
Confident that she could excel to any heights once she commits herself, Angela later worked for two more organisations before joining Plan Zimbabwe in 2013.
“When I landed the job at Plan Zimbabwe, I could see my whole life being played before me. God was fulfilling my aspirations.
“And with the experience that I had gathered in the three organisations that I had worked for, I knew I was mature and well groomed enough to take up the position,” she said.
Her current position enables her to further push the agenda for the emancipation of girls, checking progress and noting challenges and impediments that may stall their development.
Angela said society needs to challenge bogus religious and cultural practices and attitudes that have been holding back girls for years.
Although she is happy with her current post, Angela is already preparing herself for greatness and has already set her sights on the future.
“One day I hope to sit among great people at the World Bank or the United Nations, further pushing the agenda of the marginalised,” enthused Angela who is also a singer and a member of the Joystreet Choir led by Amai Shingisai Suluma.