Rumbidzai Mbewe, Sunday Leisure Correspondent
AT the age of 14 when other children of her age were at secondary school and being introduced to equations and such other topics, her brain was past that stage as she had already mapped her way to a revered tertiary institution to read for a degree.
And perhaps she is the first African to start tertiary education at that age, and most probably the youngest of all females at universities in the country. And yet she remains very humble and unassuming.
This is just part of a history that is being carved by 17-year-old Maud Chifamba who despite coming from a struggling family could not afford to sit back and watch her dreams slipping into the abyss of oblivion.
Yes, she does not come from a fraternal elite family, neither is she shimmering, dazzlingly beautiful or sophisticated but she has the confidence, the brains and the vision.
She has allowed herself to bask in the aura of optimism and lady luck smiled on her as she was offered the opportunity to pursue her education by the Government. Maud did her primary education but could not proceed to secondary school due to lack of funds. She therefore read at home and in two years time in 2009 when she was only 11 she sat for her Ordinary Level examinations and passed.
Realising her rare academic brilliance and appreciating her plight Government through the Ministry of Education offered to pay for her A-level education and she excelled again, this time passing with 12 points in 2011 when she was 13.
Maud is currently doing her final year in Accounting at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and is one unique person with a very sharp mind. Growing up as an orphan, things were not so rosy but she managed to survive the hardships she was going through and to excel in her studies. She said she was not one to let family histories tie her down in pursuing her vision.
Young as she is, Maud knows what she wants in life and she is working towards her dream.
In an interview with Sunday Leisure, the genius said achieving the recognition of being the youngest student in a tertiary institution of UZ’s nature was a great milestone in her life that she was very proud of.
“I am proud of myself but even more of my late dad and the entire family who made it possible for me to achieve this great feat through all the hard conditions. They stuck with me no matter what and their support kept me going. I attribute all my achievements to their great support,” she said.
Maud said she had always been the youngest in class since the age of nine and going to UZ was just a continuation of not so new a journey. She said although it was not so much strange during her primary education when she used to skip grades, she got so much attention when she went to university.
“I have always been the youngest in class but when I got to UZ there was so much media attention and the freedom associated with varsity made the experience a little different. People were very supportive though none of them understood what was going on with me,” said Maud.
Growing up she loved being indoors and was very shy. Maud says her father always hammered on the importance of education. She said she was taught that education was the only route to success and that lesson sank into her.
“At a very tender age, my dad taught me to value my education and as a result I treasured it. I was taught to believe it was the only escape from the poverty my family was in. I also loved reading and I still enjoy the companionship of my books,” she said.
Just like any other teenager, Maud had her insecurities. She was not happy and confident with her looks but as time went on she came to terms with it. She said she was now realising that God did not make any errors but everyone was beautiful in their own way.
“Every human being has his or her insecurities but I managed to get through it. I still care about being beautiful and pretty which I guess every girl does but I have put my mind on other things and other priorities other than just looks,” she said.
Maud said she was just like any other teenager and liked doing a lot of sports. She urged other young people especially girls to be clear in what they want in life and never be intimidated by anything that came their way.
“Be clear about what you want and never be afraid to go after it. Everything in this world is possible as long as you are willing to pay the price for it. Trust in God and do your best,” she said.
Maud has been the brand promoter of the UZ since 2014 and was also the Vice-Chancellor’s ambassador in 2014. She received the Great Young Achievers Award at the Great Women Awards held in Dubai as well as the Panel Choice Award at the Zimbabwe International Women’s Awards in 2014.