Former broadcaster and Zimplats Holdings head-corporate affairs Sibusisiwe Chindove says her mother influenced her career path and shaped the person she has become.
Chindove told Alpha Media Holdings chairman Trevor Ncube on the platform In Conversation with Trevor that her mother used her networks to kick-start her broadcasting career while she was still a school girl.
Below are excerpts from the interview.
TN: Sibusisiwe ‘Busi’ Chindove, welcome to In Conversation With Trevor.
SC: Thank you Trevor.
TN: I am delighted that we are finally doing this because your story, I think your story is going to be one that is empowering and inspiring to quite a lot of people.
Reading around you as I was researching, I was taken back to the good old days, our good old days.
We will walk through those good old days. Let me start Busi with you at 16 years old.
SC: Wow. That is a long way back Trevor.
TN: At 16 years old you became a radio presenter whilst you were still a student? How did this happen?
SC: Yeah. As I said it is going back some time.
What happened Trevor is my mother was a very social person and she had a huge network, and she made friends with a broadcaster whom you may remember, called Jill Baker.
So what happened is when we finished our O’ Levels, you know there is that gap of three to four months where you have nothing to do and you drove your parents crazy and all that.
My mother then approached Jill Baker and said that I needed something to do over the next three to four months, and asked if there was any opening.
Jill Baker at that stage was a co-owner of a company called Black Berry Productions.
Jill put us in the library, a friend of mine Emily Samasuwo and I, we went to work at Black Berry Productions, and we worked in the library.
Our role was to record and note down every single record.
I do not know how many people still remember what a record is!
SC: It was a vinyl records. We had to catalogue these.
The most boring job ever, but it kept us busy and what it also did it allowed us to meet and work with some of the biggest names in radio at that time.
So we were working with Ray Chirisa, John Matinde, Mike Mundwa and a whole lot of other people. Even James Makamba.
So it was a great place to work.
TN: So mum opened the door for you through her networks? Is that not amazing?
SC: Mum opened the door.
TN: The roles that mums and parents do have to open up those kinds of opportunities.
Tell me Busi, the impact of that opportunity? That door opened? What effect has it had on your life up to this day?
SC: Well Trevor, from working in that library there was an afternoon where they needed to record a radio commercial, and they could not find a voice.
So they walked into the library and said “Oi, you two come to the studio!”
We had no place in the studio you know, and I went in there and Emily went in there and they did a voice test, they gave us the script and then we did that commercial.
That is how I started broadcasting.
TN: When did you actually officially get a gig as a broadcaster?
SC: It was about a month down the line, because I went through training.
Jill Baker spent hours and hours and hours with me in the studio.
I did not have the confidence that I could do it, I must be honest, but she thought she saw something and she was willing to spend the hours.
So between 5pm and 7pm everyday for about a month we just went through the routines, and she gave me scripts and we tried all sorts of scripts and different scenarios until she said to me look I think you are ready.
At that stage there was a radio station called Radio Jacaranda, it was the predecessor to Radio 3.
That is when she said to me are you happy to do an hour?
TN: Radio Jacaranda, remind us, was mostly a white audience, am I right?
SC: That is correct, but they wanted to transition it so that it could have a more inclusive audience.
She (Jill) then asked if I was okay doing a Friday night slot for an hour, and that is how it all started.
TN: And you enjoyed it?
SC: I loved it.
TN: What did you love about it?
SC: I had the freedom to choose. It was a music show, and I had the freedom to choose the music that I wanted, with guidance obviously.
I just loved the fact that it was connecting with people; even though you are in a studio, you are on your own, but you could feel that connection.
At that stage they were beginning to have the phone-in programmes so you could tell whether you were connecting with an audience or not.
TN: Meanwhile you were continuing with your studies, right?
SC: I actually used to go to the studio dressed in my school uniform!
TN: Hahahahaha! What school was that?
SC: I was at The Dominican Convent.
TN: So you would leave the Dominican Convent into the studio?
SC: Yes, that’s right.
TN: You then went to the University Of Zimbabwe Busi and decided to do a Bachelor Of Administration (Honours).
Why did you go for Bachelor of Administration? Tell you why I ask.
When I applied to the University Of Zimbabwe, I wanted to do Law.
I missed law by one point and for that I literally could have killed myself because that is how disappointed I was by the fact that I had not chosen Law.
Why was I choosing Law?
That was because there were some role models that I was seeing out there that had done Law.
So I said to myself that I wanted to be like so and so. Why did you choose Bachelor of Administration?
SC: Well, my story is not as noble as yours!
SC: I mean if I am going to be honest here, my story was not as noble.
What happened is that I actually went to the university under instruction from my mother, to go and apply to do Law.
So I got there and what they had done was that they had different tables with the different faculties.
I arrived and started asking which table was the Faculty of Law?
I just then looked at the size of the queues, and the Law queue was very short.
So I went to the person who was at the back of the queue and asked them why their queue was so short?
Somebody from another queue said to me “Don’t! These guys have no life. They just spend their whole life just reading, reading, reading. They have no life!”
So I thought to myself that I did not come to university to have no life.
So I started walking and asking at the various queues what each queue was for.
One was business studies and they explained to me.
I asked if there was Maths in there, and they said yes, and so I decided against it as I did not want to do anything involving Maths.
So finally, I got to this queue which was very long.
I asked why everyone wanted to do the degree, and they said it would offer the greatest flexibility.
I was interested.
I looked at the modules, and some of them resonated with me.
During that degree programme (Bachelor Of Administration) Trevor, I was able to do marketing for three years.
I was able to do psychology for three years, I was able to do sociology for three years.
Then we had the subjects where we really had no option, like political science, public administration and so on.
I enjoyed my studies, marketing, I loved psychology and so on.
Those people I had spoken to were right, that degree programme actually gave me the greatest flexibility.
TN: It is a degree programme, I think to a large extent, that you have learned on to get to where you are right now?
SC: When I reflect, so often we are told to trust in God, and we try and manoeuvre life the way we want it, but when I reflect on how my life has panned out, it is really just telling me that I should trust in God.
TN: God was ordering your steps?
TN: After mom instructed you to go and enrol for law?
SC: She was not too happy when I got back and told her I was doing a Bachelor Of Administration. She said “What?”
TN: But you had made your choice?
SC: Yes, I had made the choice.
TN: What role did your mom play? We are five minutes into the interview right now and your mom has featured twice already?
She looms larger than life in your life journey?
SC: Very much so Trevor. I was blessed to have her as my mom.
She was a fantastic role model.
A lot of the things I have learnt that are important in life, things like humility, things like generosity.
Just being able to love people for who they are without condition, that is just the person she was.
Huge in terms of being a huge shoulder to cry on and so on and so forth.
My parents were divorced Trevor when I was 18 months old.
So perhaps also that explains why she played a huge role in my life, because she was the mother, she was the father, but a wonderful woman.
When I also look at the way my life has panned out, there are a lot of things which maybe she did not overtly guide me in that direction.
For instance she was a journalist, she worked for the African Daily with people like Willy Musarurwa and so on at that time.
When I started going into broadcasting she was very supportive, because it was a journey she had walked in a different way.
She was in the newsroom, she was a reporter and that kind of thing.
She was able to relate to it, and she did not stop me, because as I said she could identify with it.
TN: Then you got into broadcasting yourself. You did this while you were still in school.
For me as I was reflecting on inviting you here, I was saying to myself that it is important for young people to realise that Busi is an icon.
That you started in radio at 16 years and she grew in the job and she has become a big corporate executive.
So these journeys are long.
When you look back at that and where your journey has taken you through up to right now what goes through your mind?
SC: As I said Trevor, now that I am at this stage in my life, I am able to reflect and just realise that life is defined for you.
The decisions that you are led to make are decisions that then impact you throughout your life.
The foundation, whether it is in terms of education, whether it is the experiences that you go through, they all add up and move to define who you are.
I am also just very grateful that throughout my life I have met people who were willing to spend time with me, I would say invest, because they were people whom I reflect and think about the way they gave me guidance.
They gave me advice, and I think for young people it is very important for them to realise that you need to open yourself to that, allow people who even bother about you to give you that advice and guidance and you learn so much.
For me as I said my mom played a big role.
My grandmother also played a huge role, because while I was born in Harare, at a very early age perhaps two years old, my mother got a scholarship to go and study in Canada, and she left me with my grandmother in Mhondoro Ngezi.
So I spent my early childhood with my grandmother in Mhondoro, a great woman of faith and a very strong character and entrepreneur.
So I was very much blessed to learn from her that helped me in my life going forward.