THE youngest girl ever to enrol at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) to study for a degree, Maud Chifamba has urged other girls not to allow their future to be shaped and determined by difficult times they encounter in life.
BY MOSES CHIBAYA
Chifamba enrolled for a Bachelor of Accountancy Honours Degree at the UZ last year at the age of 14, becoming the youngest girl ever to study for a degree at the institution.
Speaking at the commemorations of the International Day of the Girl Child hosted by Unicef in Harare recently, Chifamba said she went through very difficult circumstances but that never distracted her determination.
“Don’t let anyone shape what you want to be, and don’t let your situation determine who you will be. Don’t be dragged down but let it [difficult situation] push you if you want to determine your future, please let it push you, not drag you down,” said Chifamba.
“Let it push you to change your current circumstances into something better — something that you would be proud of.”
The International Day of the Girl Child focusses on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote their empowerment.
Chifamba — who grew up in abject poverty after losing both parents at a tender age — defied adversity and hardship to break academic records.
Born to a poor family in a resettlement area in Chegutu in Mashonaland West province, Chifamba lost her father when she was just five years old.
Her mother also passed away soon after she wrote her A’Level exams.
Chifamba’s two brothers, who are general workers at a farm, were unable to pay the fees required to keep her at formal school so she started studying vigorously at home all by herself.
“Talk of difficult times, I know of such, talk of difficult conditions, I know of such … Imagine you growing up under the care of a step brother and his wife and you have to go to school … where you stay, it’s in the resettlement areas. You have to go kumunda [field] and you know you need to study so when talk of difficult times, I really mean it,” she said.
Born on November 19 1997, Chifamba’s intellectual prowess and hard work earned her a four-year scholarship of nearly US$10 000 after she excelled at A’Level.
“In primary [school], I never came second, wherever I was, I was first in that class. In society, they expect girls to do less in the academic field … they should be motivated to do more.”
According to Unicef, girls face discrimination and violence every day across the world.
Chifamba said there was need to get more girls into school so that their situation could be improved.
“The first thing that we must have in mind to change the condition of girls not only in Zimbabwe, but worldwide is education,” Chifamba said. “Since I was born I used to say what boys can do, girls can do better or even better than better. What I want to say to you girls is that there is nothing to rush for. Acquire your education, you will never be sorry. You will never regret knowing something in life, you will regret the opposite.”
Chifamba has been named among Forbes’ 20 Youngest Powerful Women in Africa.