A GOOD sailor does not learn through calm seas but through challenging turbulent waters.
This is a befitting adage for Zambia’s very first female Vice-President, Inonge Mutukwa Wina.
With two portfolios already assigned to her by the current custodian of the country’s instruments of power, Ms Wina as President Lungu’s running mate now faces the toughest challenge.
Zambia is for the first time implementing the constitutional requirement of having a presidential running mate with Ms Wina’s name having been chosen as the favourite.
The word “first” seems to have been following her as she ascended to the position of influence.
She goes down in the history as the first female Vice-President in 50 years of independence, then first Vice-President to graduate from University of Zambia and now the first female running mate to President Edgar Lungu.
While she confesses that her running mate appointment is a major challenge, she might just be saying so out of humility as facts about her life suggest otherwise.
Life has not been plain sailing for her but with determination and focus managed to firmly overcome some roughest life ravages that prepared her to a coveted position she holds today.
Her lifestyle stands out a glaring example of a determined, focused, productive, level-headed and intelligent woman.
Born on April 2, 1941 at Sibumbu village, Nalolo Western Province, Ms Wina took the first step to literacy at the age of eight; not by choice but because of a long distance between her home and the closest school.
She and other children from the same village had to cover a distance of more than seven kilometres on daily basis to reach school with a river between.
Foot-sinking sand in that terrain was another challenge that would only take a highly determined person especially of female gender to endure school life.
Apparently, she stood out as one of the few determined girls of those days that faced the risk and challenge of crossing Barotse floods in order to earn an education.
She strongly believed that education was the only key for unlocking the doors to prosperity and wipe out poverty especially among women and children. She passionately went for it!
Ms Wina would up to date always attribute her academic success to her parents who she describes as loving and very categorical about education despite the risk of crossing the floods.
“That is in an area which gets flooded every year such that I had to go to school in a canoe from December to May. But despite that, I did everything possible and endured going to school every day,” she says.
Memories of the 14 kilometre daily walk to school in dry seasons are still as fresh in her as she describes it as an uphill battle for her then.
“I was a small girl by then and I could not puddle such that my duty was to scoop water out of the canoe as the bigger boys would do the paddling,” she says.
Clearly seeing light at the end of a tunnel, she sailed though ravaging waves to attain her lower education up to the time she made it to junior secondary school at the Barotse National School now called Kambule Secondary School in Mongu.
It was during the junior education stage that her leadership traits emerged when her school managers appointed her head-girl.
“I was one of those girls that proved to be sharp in my school such that in my junior secondary education, I was chosen head girl. Maybe those were some attributes to first steps of leadership at that level,” she says.
With a future looking set, promising and adorable, her late Husband Arthur Wina could not leave things to chance as he asked for her hand in marriage upon completion of her junior secondary but there was a condition.
“My father was very categorical about my education, so he allowed me to marry my husband on very strict conditions that I should be allowed to complete my education.
So to make sure that his wish was respected, there was a letter in a form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was signed between my family and that of the Winas to agree that I be allowed to continue with my education whilst married,” she says.
Ms Wina focused her attention fully on education such that she did all she could in correspondence learning until she was sent to California in the Unite States (US) to completed her high school education at Santa Monica High School.
It was while there in the US that she obtained a diploma in social work at Santa Monica City College.
She latter returned home to Zambia where she enrolled at the country’s highest learning institution the University of Zambia (UNZA) for a Bachelor of Arts Degree.
Now, taking a keen look at her educational background, there is nothing that really points directly to her ascendance to politics this high level.
This perhaps is a reason why she says her late husband would never think she could rise to such a high influential political office inn the land as Vice President.
However, history has it that she might have piped into the political arena in the early 70s when she gave her voluntary service to women movement.
Perhaps that passion for community service then would describe her hidden knack of political interest.
Lookout for Part Two as we get deeper into her political journey and family.