“We all benefit when women around the world are informed, connected, educated and able to contribute their maximum toward economic and social development.”
-Shelly Esque, President, Intel Foundation and Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Intel Corporation.
When we talk of successful women, we can’t skip the likes of Naima McClean (actress, poet, vocalist), who had a lead role in the movie Vehicle 19 alongside the late Fast and Furious actor Paul Walker, Isis Nyong’o-named one of Africa’s Most Successful Women by Forbes in 2012. We also have Lupita Nyong’o in mind after her award winning role in 12 Years a Slave; and not forgetting South Africa-born Hollywood actress Charlize Theron (Snow White and the Huntsman, Prometheus-2012). She gives back to the society through her Charlize Theron Outreach Africa Project (CTAOP).
“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
In the African continent, what makes our future bright is the fact that we’ve got great minds amidst us. We are all responsible for bringing up the next generation leaders who will improve the transformation that the continent is going through.
One of the key things is to make education for all a priority. Both girls and boys need equal opportunities to explore their intelligence and ability and channel their knowledge towards serving their communities.
Stella Mutale Sata from Zambia is a solid example of why empowering the youth is important and urgent. She finished her secondary at the age of 13 back in 2007-when I was finishing primary school! She then enrolled for a Diploma in Business Administration at the tender age of 14 at Nilai University in Malaysia. She completed her Accounting and Finance Degree while also engaging in extra-curricular activities. Stella participated at the Future Leaders Camp 2009 organized at the institution, contributed to the student newsletter as well as helped set up the Model United Nations Movement at the campus.
She is currently studying for an MSc in Management and Development of International Financial Systems at the University of South Wales, UK. At the age of 18 she obtained her BA Hons in Accounting and Finance from Oxford Brookes University.
Apart from being focused in studies, she’s passionate in community development. In 2011 and 2012, the girl worked with World Vision as Malaysia Camp Leader for the 30 hour Famine Camp, as well as helped raise funds for orphanages in Zambia and Malaysia. I talked to the daughter of the current President of Zambia, His Excellency Mr. Michael Chilufya Sata and very supportive mother Dr, Matildah Mutale and here’s our interaction:
Me: How does it having achieved a lot while still young?
Stella: Well I don’t feel like I have achieved a lot haha. I have a lot of plans and I believe that I am just starting out. Every time I carry out one of them, I am humbled because I know that I am taking care of God’s business. Being young is a bonus, because I know I have a few more years to do stuff, but I won’t be young forever.
Me: Has it been a challenge upholding African culture and belonging abroad?
Stella:I went abroad when I was still young so I had a chance to just completely leave the African culture behind if I wanted, but then this made me want to showcase it more. Home is really where the heart is and wherever I go, I owe it to the people I meet to show them a piece of my home. The more I live abroad, the more I love my culture, our clothes, our food, and our drive. It’s not really a challenge; it’s simply an amazing chance to show people the Africa they might never know.
Me: Why do you think education is very important and it should be a priority to parents, leaders, and youth themselves?
Stella: I think both formal and informal (street) education are important and I always say this. There are several reasons why education should be a priority. For example, if we do not make education a priority for every single person in the world, a big idea, a great innovation, and an amazing invention may be left locked in the mind of an uneducated person. When I talk about education, I am not only talking about the abc’s and the 1+1’s… but other issues such as the knowledge of health related issues, awareness to be tolerant to other religions, races, the knowledge to make financially wise choices and the appreciation of one’s self worth- it’s a whole large spectrum and we need an education system that works. Most of the problems that both the developing and the developed world face can be tackled if we had a truly educated world.
Me: You have been engaging in community development work. Such needs selflessness and commitment, what inspired you to do it?
Stella: Some of the things I have gone through have inspired me to help others in each and every way that I can. My parents have also been an influential factor, as politicians, to a great extent; their motivation is to help those in need. It breaks me to see how much inequality is in my country, and how a few people can have so much and a lot of people can have so little. I believe God brought us on earth to be one and to help each other. If we aren’t doing anything to the least of our brothers and sisters, then whatever we do is really in vain.
Me: Do you have a phobia?
Stella: Thunder and Lightening haha. You’ll find me under my bed when there is a thunderstorm hahahaha.
Me: Who is your biggest inspiration?
Stella: My Parents! They are my biggest inspiration. First of all, my parents and I make up a total of three generations, so there is so much wisdom there. My dad always told me he had his first pair of shoes at 21. He didn’t grow up in a wealthy family and he made himself and drove himself to the highest office of the land and it didn’t happen overnight. He has been through so much but was determined and persevered. He is truly the strongest man that I know. My mum on the other hand grew up as the daughter of a miner and a nurse. In the 60’s and 70’s that was about as wealthy as Zambians could be, and they lived in a big house. Nevertheless, she had her own struggles and worked hard to relieve her parents of the pressures of taking care of 11 children. As the 4th born, she educated all her younger siblings and some of their children and that is quite inspiring. She is the strongest woman I know and not even 2 strokes brought her down. I hope I can emulate their resolve and drive.
Me: Having interacted with people from various parts of the world while in campus in Malaysia and in UK, which has been the most exciting experience you have had?
Stella: My most exciting experiences were always when I went for international conferences such as the Model United Nations conferences or the International Youth Leadership Conference in Prague. I loved these because we were all blending and it showed us what type of world we could live in if we were all united. Different races, different religions, different cultural backgrounds, all united towards a common goal and at the end of the day, I left with a few more friends from around the world. I always looked forward to the next conference.
Me: Which is your favorite travel location?
Stella: Paris-France! I have never been there but I am yet to go. It’s the city of love, I was born in February and I am a hopeless romantic so I think it will most probably be my favorite destination.
Me: How do you cope with negativity from those who don’t exactly support your causes or don’t understand you?
Stella: Proverb from The Gambia: “An enemy is an enemy and even if you dance in the water, he is still going to complain that you are raising a lot of dust and making him cough.” –I keep moving.
Me: You started an event management company while at school, also engaged in UN activities and youth camps. Did that affect balance-education and extra-curricular activities?
Stella: The UN activities and camps sometimes coincided with school. I tried my best to manage my time and at times I would be a moving zombie. But I did my best to balance them. If they were too much for me to handle, I would choose school. I started my events management company in October 2012. That was a month after I completed my Bachelor of Arts so this had no effect on school. I had a lot of free time then.
Me: What is your favorite music?
Stella: I love country music: Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, etc.
Me: Are you dating?
Stella: I kissed dating goodbye 🙂
Me: What do you do during your free time for fun?
Stella: I read books, listen to country music, watch movies and series. That happens to be my idea of fun. I love movie popcorn 🙂
Me: You are known to be humble, outgoing and friendly despite the fact that you are the president’s daughter, why did you chose that?
Stella: It comes naturally. Must be in the genes haha. My parents are very humble, outgoing and friendly though quite serious when it comes to the serious stuff. That’s exactly who I am too
Me: Which is your current favorite book or movie?
Stella: Favorite book of all times is Malice by Danielle Steel. It is an amazing book where Danielle writes about a phenomenal woman and portrays her struggle to overcome malice and betrayal and to transform her lifetime of pain into a blessing for others. I first read it when I was 12 and I read it every year and it never gets old.
Me: In Africa we have a problem with unemployment and underemployment. Any suggestion(s) on how we can tackle this issue?
Stella: Encouraging sustainable entrepreneurship may be the answer. We need to start producing more than we are consuming and this requires the birth of several industries. Africa is so focused on Mining, Tourism, Manufacturing, Buying stuff from Dubai/China and selling them, etc that it is not tapping into it’s full potential. There are so many more things that we can do.
Me: There’s someone who would like to visit Zambia. It is a country endowed with abundant wildlife, the amazing scenery at Victoria Falls, and it is one of the safest places to visit in the world. What would they learn from your people?
Stella: They would learn that people in Zambia are hardworking day and night. You don’t believe me, go and see for yourself. I suggest after a week of seeing wildlife and amazing scenery, you take a trip to the rural areas and watch their work ethic. You’ll be inspired.
Me: Okay, this one is pretty random! If Richard Branson granted you an opportunity to go to space in his future Virgin Galactic space flight mission, would you accept the offer?
Stella: Erm No, thank you! Not big on Space… yikes!
Me: You are turning 20 on valentine’s day.What would you say is your biggest lesson in your teenage life
Stella: My two biggest lessons were that falling in love means you’ll cry yourself to bed every now and then. Haha. But one should fall in and out of love anyway.
The second lesson is that every seemingly negative situation is a chance for one to create a positive outcome. So I have stopped being discouraged and I focus on looking for the positive that will come out of negative situations.
Me: What final word do you have for the youth out there?
Stella: Set ten-year goals, and try and achieve all of them. Don’t be afraid to add or subtract as you go on. Life is flexible. I hope one of the goals you set will be to rebuild the communities around you.
Stella is the Opportunity Desk person of the month, February 2014. Opportunity desk is a global platform that seeks to offer opportunities to youth as well as discovering amazing talent and sharing with the world. Here is the link: http://po.st/iQZxcV
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