MWILA NTAMBI, Kitwe
THE story of Caroline Wamunyima Marumo is both inspiring and amazing. Inspiring in the sense that she is credited to be the first female teacher to obtain a Doctor of Philosophy Degree (PhD) in Kitwe and amazing because she was a Catholic nun for 10 years before she got married.
A wife to Akende Wamuwi and mother to four girls namely; Musa, Mampi, Maliwa and Sitwala, one cannot help but admire Dr Marumo. Having started her teaching career in 1992 after obtaining a certificate from Mongu Teachers Training College, Dr Marumo was determined to further her education from the lowest to the highest level.
Early life and family background
Dr Marumo was born on September 20, 1968 and is the sixth born child in a family of seven. She was born at a place called Sefula in Mongu district in a village called Nalikolo. Her father was a teacher while her mother was a full time housewife who did some training in home economics to get basic cookery, sewing and crocheting skills.
“From a family of seven, I am number six. Unfortunately, I lost both my parents sometime back. I lost my father when I was in Grade Seven and my mother when I was in grade nine,” she narrates.
She attended Sefula Primary School in Mongu from 1974 to 1980 before proceeding to Holy Cross Girls Secondary School where she was from 1981 to 1985 when she completed her secondary education. When she left Holy Cross in 1985, she joined the nunnery and was with the holycross sisters from 1986 to 1996 when she left because of family problems.
She said after losing her parents early in life, she lost most of her brothers and two of her sisters and all of them left children that needed to be taken care of. It became difficult for Dr Malumo to balance life as a nun, and at the same time look after the children left behind by her siblings. Family pressures prompted her to take a sabbatical leave for a year and when she left the convent in 1996, she never returned.
After completing her initial teacher training in Mongu in 1991, Dr Marumo was posted to Nalituwe Basic School in Livingstone in 1992. She pursued her teaching studies whilst she was a nun. After teaching for two years, she decided to pursue a diploma in English and religious studies teaching at the National In-service Training College (NISTCO) in Chalimbana from 1994 to 1995. From there, she was posted to Zimba Secondary School in Southern Province.
“After Chalimbana in 1995, I went back to the convent and only stayed for a year. In 1997, I went to Zimba Secondary School to teach as a lay person. By that time, I had already left the convent, so I was at Zimba Secondary School until 2004,” she said.
It was at Zimba Secondary School where she met her husband who was also teaching there. The two fell in love and got into courtship and eventually married. Dr Marumo has always been passionate about studying from her school days and had vowed that failing an examination was not her nature.
“I have always liked studying. Even when I was at secondary school, one thing I was telling myself is that I cannot fail. I never just wanted to fail and it was my vision that I should try and work very hard in the academic line to reach, if possible, the highest level,” she says.
Dr Marumo reveals that she had a role model in Dr Mutumba Mainga Bull (first woman to hold PhD in Zambia, an academician who also held cabinet portfolios in the Kaunda regime) who came from the same village as hers. She recalls how she would always admire Dr Bull whenever she would drive to the village to visit her parents.
“I would tell myself that one day, I have to reach Dr Bull’s level in life,” she said.
After teaching at Zimba Secondary school for nine years, Dr Marumo had to join her husband who had been transferred to the Copperbelt. Whilst there, she taught at Chibote Girls Secondary School, Malela and Mukuba Secondary Schools. It was during her stint at Malela that she was promoted to the position of deputy headteacher and eventually headteacher before being transferred to Parklands Secondary School where she is currently headteacher.
Dr Marumo was not satisfied with her diploma so she enrolled for further studies at the Zambia Open University where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in secondary school education in 2009.
She obtained a Master’s degree in Language and Linguistics from the University of Atlanta in 2014 and began her PhD studies right away.
“It was actually my supervisor who recommended that I start my PhD. That is how I started my PhD programme from 2014 to 2017. I did it with the University of Cornell in USA,” Dr Marumo narrates.
“My PhD is Philosophy of Language and Linguistics. I really love language. Initially, I am a teacher of religious studies and English language but I love language very much,” she said.
Piece of advice for girls
Dr Marumo says young girls can achieve anything in life if they are focused. She says one needs to learn to manage their time effectively because it is key in realising one’s goals. She advises working people to use their leave days productively, saying she did a lot of studying with her leave days.
She says young girls need to work very hard and resist the lures of the world. She says both girls and boys should utilise the time they are given to be in school wisely so that they could fulfil their dreams and achieve their goals.
Dr Malumo believes a woman could further her education although married.
She says she wears the jackets of a mother, wife and teacher, but managed to pursue her academic dreams because she learnt how to manage her time properly.
Despite leaving sisterhood, Dr Marumo has remained a devout Catholic and her husband who was a member of the United Church of Zambia (UCZ), has converted to Catholicism and this she says has strengthened the family bond.
She is a member of St Mary’s Our Lady of Perpetual Succor parish in Mindolo, Kitwe. Dr Marumo describes her relationship with the holy cross sisters as very good and that they visit her as much as she visits them and they pray together regularly.
Former nun, now mother, wife, headteacher
MWILA NTAMBI, Kitwe