Mukayi Makaya

Mukayi Makaya

Date: March 27, 2011
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Sinking or swimming? Being thrown in the deep end is a fast way to learn!

Towards the end of 2010 GL promoted me to manage the Alliance and Partnerships portfolio. Even though I was ecstatic, I was also somewhat scared. It was a big leap, and way out of my comfort zone. I wondered if I would cope: it was a whole new area of work; quite intimidating. I convinced myself that I could and would do it. I also knew that I would have to read extensively about the programme.

During the 2010 December holidays I had lots of bedtime reading, not of the usual novels: the Barometers, the SADC Gender and Development Protocol, Roadmap to Equality, the DVDs. It was totally crazy, but I needed to inform myself. My husband and kids even began to complain! Any free moment I had, I found myself reading. I realised that I was actually enjoying what I was reading about. It really was a lot of learning, about the SADC region, gender and development.

I’m not one for the limelight; I’m actually quite shy, this post threw me right into the limelight. From the time that I assumed my new post, we launched the SADC Gender Protocol 2010 Barometer in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Malawi, at all those launches I had to make a presentation on the Alliance. Now that I look back I laugh, boy was I nervous! Talking in front those big crowds was indeed intimidating. And sometimes I would say the “wrong” or “politically inappropriate” things. Often I recall GL Executive Director Colleen Lowe Morna pulling me aside, and sounding a gentle caution! Geez I thought, what an “off-side”, how embarrassing.

I also learnt that being a new manager is not always easy; people have to gain confidence in you. I remember one of our donors asking the ED to come and make a presentation at a Pan-African Gender Conference they were hosting. Colleen was not available to go, and told them that I, as the manager of the programme, would make the presentation. This was not well received by the donor organisation, they wanted Colleen! As I was new to the programme they feared I would not be able to handle questions from their group! So there was a bit of an exchange, but Colleen being Colleen, insisted that it would be me or no one! I went, over prepared for the session. The session went well, the group indeed asked a lot of questions, and we had such a good discussion! I later received an email from the big boss of that organisation, thanking me for a “wonderful” session. Mind you she wasn’t even there, but said she had received very good feedback. That made me feel good!

But that was not even the worst! In early December the SADC Gender Unit had asked Colleen to give a presentation at a regional Gender training workshop. We had just come back from Malawi. When I got home I noticed a missed call from her: had I known what she was going to say, honestly, I would not have returned the call. To my shock she had decided she could not make it, and asked me to go and make the presentation! Oh my goodness, I thought, what can I possibly say to those government officials! Believe me I tried in vain to wiggle out of it, but she wouldn’t budge.

Everything that could have gone wrong that morning went wrong. I was stuck in traffic, arrived half an hour late. The programme had to be rearranged to accommodate my late arrival. When I finally arrived, Magdeline Madibela, Head of SADC Gender Unit, gave me an astounding welcome and introduction. That increases the pressure for an excellent delivery. I could see the participants were tired, and somewhat bored. My mind raced around for an icebreaker. Thank goodness for the times I had seen Colleen facilitate, so I knew a couple of her tricks. I asked the participants to join in a massage exercise (rub my back and I will rub yours). Wow it did wonders, they enjoyed it! Their mood lightened and they engaged with my presentation. They were very impressed by the work of the Alliance and the Barometer. There was so much discussion after that session, I felt so good about it, and it did wonders to my confidence! Only then did I appreciate being thrown into the deep end. When we are challenged enough, our true colours shine.

This is just the beginning of more learning; these past five months have been amazing, and I’ve learnt so much, through my mistakes and just persevering. I’ve grown professionally and as an individual. It hasn’t always been easy, the pressure is high, and working hours are often long. The consolation for me is the continuous growth and development. I’ve changed in the past two years: for the better. I haven’t done this on my own; I owe it to the wonderful team that I work with, and to those who saw in me, what I never thought I had.

Mukayi Makaya Magarangoma, Alliance and Partnership Manager.

5 thoughts on “Mukayi Makaya”

Patience says:

Go girl, So proud of you!

michael says:

Good for you Mukayi, I Can relate to your experience.

Barbara Lopi says:

Yes yes you can do it girl. I’m happy for your. Congrats to GL for giving you the opportunity to unleash your potential. We all need that at one point in over lives.

Tafadzwa Muropa says:

I am so proud of you my dear, and I know you will make it!All the best and I will support you all the way!

Well done and congratulations,

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