SOME years ago when she could not get the job she desired at the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC), Faith Musonda packed her bags and headed to South Africa.
She only had the physical address of the radio station where she wanted to work, and a lot of determination. But then, this is what has always driven Faith – determination.
“When I arrived in South Africa, I went to where TransAfrica Radio offices are. When I told them why I was there and what I wanted, the man I found laughed at me in disbelief,” says Faith.
But Faith was not one to back off or stand down easily. She got the job. Before she went to South Africa, Faith worked as a volunteer-broadcaster straight from school.
“I wanted to be a reporter but back then, being a TV presenter was just an entry point and was not a respectable position,” says Faith, who now runs her own TV station. Faith was told to wait until an opportunity opened up, but she decided to leave and follow her dream into uncharted waters.
Born and raised in Northmead, Lusaka, Faith is one of six siblings. Her father was a Sunday school teacher, cell-group leader, while her mother was involved in the Christian women’s ministry. She attributes her strong character and perseverance to her strong Christian background.
“My siblings and I are very hardworking because of how we were raised. We saw our mother work hard after our father died. We saw how we had to depend on God because there was nothing or anybody else. So trusting God and believing He can make the impossible happen was a strong reality for me,” says Faith.
Her career in broadcasting and marketing now spans 18 years. Faith started her primary education at Nkwazi Primary School before attending at St Mary’s Secondary School, where she completed her grade 12.
Then she became a volunteer for ZNBC Radio 2. She says her biggest inspiration in broadcasting was her own uncle and well-known broadcaster, Fred Chunga.
“I have always wanted to be a broadcaster,” says Faith, who started horning her broadcasting skills while still studying at Evelyn Hone College.
The she had a small stint with Mondo Music, a record label owned by Chisha Folotiya. But she still continued as a volunteer broadcaster at ZNBC. “I volunteered at ZNBC with Nabwalya Bwalya every weekend for four years until I got an internship,” she says.
Then she also worked for Choice FM radio, before moving to 5 FM radio, but she did a full circle and found herself at ZNBC as a reporter during her internship.
After her internship, Faith applied for a job at ZNBC but was instead employed under programmes as a presenter, a move that prompted her to relocate to South Africa.
“My knowledge about TransAfrica Radio was through my time at Choice FM radio. I worked there for a while with Chilu Lemba showing me the ropes about media in South Africa,” she says. After that, she joined Southern Sun Pretoria where she worked in Guest Relations for two years.
Her biggest break in South Africa was when she joined the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) as a TV news anchor and producer, making her the second Zambian to work there after Maureen Nkandu.
“I later decided to return to Zambia because they needed a South African for that position and I wanted to come back to further my studies. Back in Lusaka, I started pursuing my bachelors of science in communication,” she says.
The mother of two later joined Airtel (then Zain) as a presenter for the Abaleya Show with popular comedian Bob Nkosha on ZNBC TV and then another show called Beyond Limits.
Somehow, she found herself at ZNBC, but was never satisfied with her pay, so she decided to start a laundry business, catering to busy young career women in her neighbourhood.
“I went back to ZNBC and started as a TV presenter, the same thing I ran away from. I was later made producer with TV2. While there, I started Debate Time and Faith Gospel Hour on Sundays,” she says.
She was later promoted to commercial producer under the marketing department after they commercialised Debate Time programme. She rose through the ranks to become head of channel for TV2 before she was moved back to marketing as creative and promotions manager until she eventually left ZNBC.
While at ZNBC, Faith started the One Voice Choir competition and Junior President. “I enjoyed doing projects that impacted people’s lives,” she says. “My belief in media communication is that what we do ultimately must improve someone’s life practically.”
But Faith had her eyes set on something of her own; she started working on the licencing of a TV station. One of Faith’s inspiration was media morgue Strive Masiyiwa.
When she left ZNBC, she joined Econet media as public relations and branding marketing manager. She says the move to leave ZNBC was so she could go into another competitive environment because that was pay TV in order to learn the business. The death of one of her closest friends, Faith Kandaba, also inspired into establishing her own TV station, Life TV.
“I left Econet to set up my own TV station, Life TV, on Topstar channel 112. Life TV started as a ministry through sermons from international preachers and gospel music then we commercialised it to ensure its sustainability. We currently have 20 members of staff,” she says.
Faith, who was recently appointed as Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) communications and public relations manager, credits a lot of people who have shaped her professionally.
She says working with Standard Chartered Bank head of corporate affairs Christine Matambo helped build her public profile, professional persona and taught her professional etiquette and networking at senior management level. Other people who have had a big influence on her include Frank Mutubila, the late Mateyo Phiri, late Ben Kangwa and Caristo Chitamfya.
“The person who has groomed me in my career is Kunda Mando. She literally held me by the hand and introduced me to the world of broadcasting straight out of school. All these experiences have built me up to this place where I saw a scripture come alive that ‘Your gift will bring you before kings’,” she says with a smile.
Quoting her favourite scripture in the Bible that “No eye has seen, no ear has heard and no mind has perceived what God has in store for you”, she believes that how far a person can go in life is not close to the plans God has in store for each person.
To crown her career, Faith is the recipient of the 2017 CO Global Africa’s Most influential woman in media for Southern Africa. The award under South African Leadership Organisation identifies women who have excelled in their field or career in different countries in Africa.
“The experiences in my life, especially when growing, up taught me to be humble, accountable, and taught me that the little things count in life. It has taught me that there is no substitution for hard work,” she says.