A peculiar journey to victory
17 August 2017
By Nyasha Makuni
It is so humbling to be one of only two females elected into the Student Representative Council (SRC) for this academic year, 2017-2018. I am ready to lead, I am here to serve and carve my mark in the history of female student leadership at the “School of Dreams!”
Photo Credits - Steven Maenda
It all started with a leadership course I took out of sheer boredom, in pursuit of something new and transformative to my inquisitive young mind. At a glance, I only saw the course as something that would teach me a few new tricks but never as that thing that would whisk me out of the shadows of society.
As a fresher who particularly came late for orientation to find everyone else belonging to a click of some sort, it only seemed natural I resort to my old high school traits of being a loner and enjoy an invisible existence…after all, old habits die hard! Little did I know at this point, that I am not your average introvert.
A flash forward into the leadership course, Dr. Bell asked us to provide her with our portfolios covering our career plan, life’s goals, dreams, aspirations and vision. Oh, as a side bar, Dr. Bell is a Volunteer In Mission (VIM) of the United Methodist Church based in the United States of America, who fell in love with Africa University (AU) when she first came in the 90s and has supported the University ever since.
As Dr. Bell discovered that my short term goal was to be a sub warden, I vividly remember to my dismay, she didn’t see me ever becoming one. However, before her seeming insult struck a nerve, I was quick to ask her why she felt that way. Her peculiar response stirred up something deep in me as she replied in a very calm and assuring voice, "You can be in a more commanding position." In a mild state of shock, I took in her words with a pinch of doubt.
Photo Credits - Steven Maenda
As time went by, her words would continue to torment me in my subconscious, till I asked my friend Chansa, “If I ran for the SRC elections, would I win?” Her reply would always be the same "Nyasha, the only thing standing between you and victory is doubt.” It took so much for me to grapple with the idea of actually running, let alone winning.
Campaign week came and it wasn’t as rosy as I had been told, gosh! It’s only later that I realized for one to win the heart of the people, it’s more than giving speeches perfumed in eloquence or being as cunning as a used-car salesman.
My genuine passion to advance the student experience at AU and create opportunities for other movers and shakers who dream big, were the words that echoed from my mouth to fellow students and colleges during my campaign. However, I found it dispiriting that I was the only female student campaigning for the Finance Secretary position, going head on with opponents who were more senior than I and more qualified in every way I could think of. “Oh, well, so much for that,” I thought to myself.
Nothing I could do about it now, my campaign had reached a point of no return. Fear would grip me some days and doubt would keep me wide awake at night. My face became pale as I started feeling like “The Machinist” who had gone for a year without any sleep as fear gripped his very existence. A multitude of questions would flood my head, “why…why and why had I put myself in such a vulnerable position?” I had no choice but to stomach my nerves, pray so often and keep my chin up.
My dexterity with debating came in very handy on the day of the debate, the final showdown just before students took to the poll and really expressed how they felt about each candidate by way of the pen. Prior to my encounter with Dr. Bell, I hadn’t realized that I had it within me an ability to articulate a vision that resonates with other people enough to garner their support.
All the same, standing infront of the sea of eyes in the lecture theatre on the day of the debate was somehow a nerve wracking experience. Questions came flying towards me like projectiles, and I had to diffuse them with meticulous precision, actually displaying the value I would bring should I become the Finance Secretary. There was no room for error now, I had to nail it no matter what!
The debate ended and personally, I felt proud of myself for holding it together, so was my campaign team who were rooting for me all the way. People took to the polls the next day and to an overwhelming exuberance, I won by a landslide to become the new Finance Secretary elect. Beyond my immediate zest of achievement, I knew it in my heart that serious work and responsibility lay ahead for me. I had to deliver on my promises to the student community who entrusted me to be their voice.
I knew above all the support I got, including invaluable advice from Tapiwa Katsukunya, who is the former and only female to have ever held the Finance Secretary position, God had made my victory possible. My only hope is that countless women within and beyond the AU student body will be able to draw some inspiration from this particular journey in my life. The future is bright and the future demands more effective, dynamic and youthful female leaders!
SRC Finance Secretary