CAREER OF THE WEEK
By Anderson Manning’s Gowa.
He got a distinction as an undergraduate in Technical Education at The Malawi polytechnic, reciprocated the same as he was undertaking his masters at KwaZulu-Natal University in the land of Zulus.
This is no miracle at all, it smacks of a pundit abundantly endowed with a folded medulla oblangata that acclimatizes with time and demands.
We have crisscrossed with fellow learners in corridors of higher learning who spend sleepless nights carrying a huge load of books only to get a mere pass at the end of the day or worse still shown the stinky boot.
Reason being, higher education is not about show off; it arises from being a serious and focused human being as well as having a brain that can bite, chew, regurgitate whatever was suckled via the brain with a pinch of excellency.
Such is the case with McDonald Mnelemba a lecturer in his late 30’s, “married to my lovely Moriah, blessed with three kids; Chikhulupiliro 13, Yankho six and Mzati one week old”.
He is inculcating Production Technology (metal and plastics) at the country’s elite University, the University of Malawi-Polytechnic.
Mnelemba whose Master’s is about Technology Education with a bias towards Design and Technology and Creativity, was born and brought up in Monkey Bay, Mangochi.
“I was born and brought up in Mangochi Monkey-Bay, in a family of six children. My dad was employed by the then Malawi Railways (Lake services division) in Monkey Bay. This meant spending all my childhood in Monkey Bay. All my childhood has been influenced by the environment of the hills and beaches of Monkey Bay.
And occasionally I partly spent some time in Balaka where I have been visiting my maternal grannies. This is also where learnt hunting and some surviving skills” narrates Mnelemba.
Life has not been a rollercoaster for Mnelemba and his journey into being a Lecturer is potholed one. He was once a mere police officer, with no accolades at all, just some general duties.
His stepping into the realm of intelligentsias was ignited at one of the MSCE cluster center down Lower Shire in Chikwawa as he was on duty providing security.
Dressed in camouflage attire wearing a fierce face to send some chills into prospective cheaters and other law breakers, Mnelemba executed his job.
As a norm, he went into classes and occasionally could bend his huge head full of manicured whiskers with his loaded weapon on the left side of his arm perusing through the papers.
One thing clicked his folded brain. The exam was so simple that right there the future was decided “come 2007 I’m going to rewrite this exam, my goodness” Mnelemba made a vow.
The outcome of the MSCE Maneb exam was all roses, he was selected to Poly to pursue a degree in technical education. Upon finishing, Poly did not want to let go of the brains, academicians made him their own.
Such is the precarious journey the distinction courier has been through and he reminisces it as a potholed undertaking.
“It has been a winding road with lots of hills and valleys, bridges and walls. Falling and picking myself along the way. By the end of the day I keep on reminding myself that it’s not about the failures that people remember, it’s about whether you kept yourself and move on.
It’s about the final destination. My whole journey has revolved on teaching and protecting people. This has always happened since I was young”, Mnelemba spits a venom of wisdom so rare from a man of his making.
It seems Mnelemba is really an asset as a lecturer if going by what he re-counts then there is a marked difference between him and other academicians.
“As a lecturer, I would like to be more of a knowledge creator and a mentor than the one who forces facts on people. Being a pragmatist, I believe in the power of dynamism of knowledge. For this I would like to be actively involved in research and publications”, affirms Mnelemba.
Yes! Research, a field that is deficient among the academicians in Malawi. The president of Malawi Peter Mutharika has time without number during academic gatherings, compelled academicians to stop the tendency of cozily having a classroom mindset.
He has tirelessly coerced them to venture into practical research that can unlock the various potentials and patents the country and the world has in store, for the betterment of humanity. It seems Mnelemba and the president are but buddies.
And true to his wish of doing research Mnelemba wants to impart the same into his learners, says he “I would like to leave behind a crop of graduates who are able to create, invent and innovate. Those who are actively involved in creative problem solving”.
Mnelemba whose utmost vision and goal is that in five to ten years, he must be a professor of technology education with so many seminal publications, vomits some words of the wisdom to every breathing soul.
“I have fallen and failed so many times in my life but I haven’t concentrated on my failures. I concentrated on why I failed and fell. Life doesn’t give you what you deserve, it gives you what you demand from it. Keep on demanding what you want from life. Believe in yourself”
Perusing through the chronicle of this heavily built but humble animal, a determined individual wishing himself good is left with one resolve; to face life in a head-on collision course, whatever the consequences life doesn’t share ripe bananas, but it is massively wrapped in thistles that only the brave can unwrap.