The Revolutionary Miss Martha

 

We’re baaaaack!

Did you miss the 52 bloggers? I hope so. We’re picking up from where we left off and jumping straight into the path of Revolution.

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The Revolutionary Miss Martha – as captured by JJ Arts Photography

Martha Chilongoshi is the powerhouse behind Revolt Media Solutions, where she regularly blogs about various development issues, especially focused on women and girls. Keep up to date with Revolt Media on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

You may not think you know Martha, but if you were following the recent Zambia Elections coverage on social media, then you definitely know her work. How so? Martha was the engine driving the Zambia Elections Information Centre on social media. The ZEIC Twitter account was a staple of information and infographic analysis during this election.

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Martha with stakeholders of the Zambia Elections Information Centre Project

Read on to get to know more about this revolutionary force in Zambia’s blogging and social media scene.

1. Tell us about the work that you do at Revolt Media Solutions.

As a Journalist, I take great pride in being the link between information and people because I believe information changes everything. It is an enabler, an equaliser for mankind and Revolt Media was birthed from that inbuilt need for me to avail people information that has the power to change their lives and shape their thinking for the better. They say we all desire to live for something bigger than ourselves and I just happened to have found my place in the global narrative of social change and impact through my ability as a communicator. In this regard, I go to schools, churches and community gatherings to speak to women and girls about issues often deemed complex, that I believe impacts on the quality of life they live directly or indirectly and most of it is centred on Human Rights, Governance, leadership, entrepreneurship, and lifestyle.

2. What motivated your interest in focusing on women and girls?

I am a woman before I am anything else and from personal and professional experiences, I noted that most of us are often dismissed on a lot of issues merely based on the fact that we are women and I felt the need to do something about the inequalities and prejudices that exist in society today, that dictates how we ought to live or relate to everyday situations. This is by no means to undermine the importance of having male folk live amongst us but merely challenging the pattern that reinforces the idea that women exist solely for the pleasure of men. I am driven by the need to for balance in terms of access to opportunities. Young girls especially are key for me because we live in a complex society that demands a sound sense of oneself and there’s no better way to prepare or groom teenagers for reality than to share raw, authentic experiences with them and listen to them too as they try to find their ground.

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Martha as representing Zambia as a panelist addressing online violence against women at the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa, in Uganda recently

3. Your company has an interesting name; what is behind the idea of revolt?

To revolt is to challenge something and because we believe information is a powerful weapon, Revolt Media exists to challenge the narrative that women are secondary and to give prominence to the issues women care about and are affected by. Development is always best driven by the people most affected by the lack of it.

4. When you were a young girl (Grade 7), what did you see yourself doing as an adult?

I always knew I wanted to be a Journalist. I dreamt about it, I imagined it, I yearned for it, so it’s no surprise that I ended being one.

5. Do you think your younger self would be satisfied or surprised to see you where you are now?

Surprised? Not at all, I think from a young age, I was privileged to grow up in a home that allowed me to take myself out of my comfort zone, one of many examples is how I sat for grade 7 exams whilst I was in grade 6 because my parents and my teachers believed I could make it and I did. That and many other experiences taught me to dare myself and see where it takes me. Satisfied? Not entirely. I think that I am always looking for ways to stretch my abilities and refine myself as an individual and as a communicator so my younger self is still in the field with pom poms cheering me on to be better.

6. If you could go back in your life and have a do-over, which decision, event or circumstance do you wish you could change?

As cliché as this may sound, I wouldn’t change a thing because all the circumstances of my life, both good and bad have contributed to shaping my perceptions and beliefs about life and what possibilities are out there if I am willing to learn, apply and challenge myself.

{co-sign on this one}

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Women are no ordinary beings

7. Where in Zambia do you come from? Describe your neighbourhood growing up. How has it changed over the years?

I identify with a tribe called Lala from Serenje District in the Central Province of Zambia. I was however, born and raised in Kitwe and lived in Parklands, Nkana East and Old Ndeke. Some of my most vivid memories from there are of walking down from school to home with ice blocks and popcorns or waiting for the lady on the roadside to roast cassava to perfection and downing it with a pack of roasted groundnuts, anyone who grew up in Kitwe knows it’s the home of perfect tute ne mbalala, umunkoyo, chikanda nefimina fyabakote. I visited the place back in 2013 and it hadn’t changed much except there’s quite some great infrastructure development going on there.

{Yay for Kopala.}

8. You were closely involved in the recent elections communications (and you did a fabulous job, btw), what did you learn from this experience?

Thank you! I am one those Zambians who is very passionate about my country, I believe it is one of the best on the continent and any opportunity to serve and make a difference is very fulfilling. The experience of mainstreaming information about our recent elections provided great insight for me as an individual, into the systems that govern our democracy and also taught me that it is very easy to have an ideal democracy if citizens are actively involved in the process. The challenge for Zambia has been that most people do not know what constitutes governance processes, so to be able to avail information in real time about the entire electoral cycle was a beautiful experience because it allowed me from the background, to witness how enlightenment changes the dynamics of power.

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Martha facilitating a session on monitoring elections using social media and ICT tools

9. Looking back on our democracy journey as a country, not only considering the recent election but the many that came before it, what do you see in our future? Are you optimistic and hopeful, or concerned and perturbed?

I am very optimistic, I believe Zambians are becoming more and more aware and interested in governance, there are so many conversations happening that centre on our democracy, leadership, and development and it’s interesting to note that Zambians are intelligent people who are bold enough to question a lot of things that they deem important for our democratic credentials. Challenges will be there but I am hopeful that citizens are embracing as well as understanding the power of their voice and their vote and how we can all collectively be a force for development.

10. We live and work in an age of social media; between Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, which do you prefer?

Twitter of course. I love Twitter because it connects me to the rest of the world in real time. More importantly, it connects me with information and  people from all across Africa and being a Pan-Africanist to the core,  I value the ability it gives me to stay up to date with events and engage on issues I am passionate about with people in other countries because I live off information, literally.

{Follow Martha on Twitter and on Instagram.}

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Martha with Akua Gyekye, Facebook’s Public Policy Manager for Africa, and Zawadi Nyongo, Digital Media Strategist from Kenya, after discussing gender inequality

11. Would you rather win: the Nobel Peace Prize, a Grammy, an Academy Award, a Pulitzer, the Lottery, or a General Election? 

Definitely, a Pulitzer, for the simple reason that it would feel very personal as it revolves around everything I love to do. I love being a journalist, I love to communicate and to write, and if ever I was awarded for operating in my gift, that would be a timeless honour.

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Martha with the first group of Innovators to be selected for the 2016 ZICTA Innovation programme

12. This interview happened at the last minute, and over email; if I was more organised and we could have gone out to a restaurant or cafe, which of Lusaka’s happening places would have been your choice? 

Latitude 15. My favourite place in the whole of Lusaka for the art, calm, and warmth it gives. I am most relaxed and in tune there.

{Arghhh! So you’re saying I missed out an opportunity to hang there too? Drat! Check out Latitude 15 on Facebook here.}

Thank you Martha for sharing your story. Looking forward to more revolution in the future.

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Author: masukamutenda

An African living in Africa, there's nowhere else I'd rather be.

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