MWAPE MWENYA, Lusaka
SHE is humble, down-to-earth, warm with an ever ready smile that makes her approachable. And if not for her resemblance to her father, it would be difficult to tell she is President Lunguâ€™s daughter.
At 33, Tasila Lungu is mapping out her political career from the grassroots where she is vying as a ward councillor for the Nkoloma Ward 21 in Lusaka`s Chawama constituency.
She is not fazed by the fact that she is the only woman in Nkoloma ward vying for the position because she believes in herself and her ability to improve the lives of people.
According to the 2011 voter register, Chawama constituency has a population of over 24,000 registered voters.
Perhaps that is the reason her father, President Lungu, describes her as a resolute person because of her assertiveness in taking up challenges.
Maybe her humble beginning in life could be one of the reasons she remains grounded despite being the Presidentâ€™s daughter with all the privileges that may come with the status.
Tasila, who describes herself as a realist, says she is aware of the numerous challenges people in communities face and that is where she is determined to make a difference.
She is aware of the challenges vulnerable communities face in accessing quality education and health services, and she is enthusiastic about the opportunity that being a ward councillor will provide for her to enable her to improve peopleâ€™s lives in Nkoloma ward.
And she is determined and motivated to take up the new challenge as a ward councillor, a task she intends to execute with ease because she is naturally a care-giver.
â€œI know what it is like to walk long distances to and from school because I did it, too. I started my primary education when I was seven years old at Twatasha Primary School in Kuomboka. And I understand what that is like,â€ she says.
In fact community service is nothing new to Tasila. She has been actively involved as a volunteer and mentor at Our Ladies Hospice in Kalingalinga, where she spends most of her time with youths.
Tasila is also an active member of the Anchor of Hope Charities, an International organisation which donates 16, 000 pairs of shoes each year to vulnerable children. The shoe programme, which is expected to be rolled out to other parts of the country, has benefited children in Luapula, Muchinga, Eastern and Lusaka provinces.
â€œI love working with people in the community I enjoy doing that and we work well together,â€ she says with a smile.
And this is despite the fact that Tasila had relocated to the United States of America early in her early teenage years because she still has not lost touch with the reality of the challenges that vulnerable communities face in their everyday lives in Zambia.
â€œAt 12 years while in Grade Seven I relocated to the USA, where I continued with my education at John W Hallaton Catholic Girls High School. I later proceeded to study history at Immaculata University and graduated with a degree in history. I also have a Master of Science in Criminal Justice, which I pursued at Saint Josephâ€™s University,â€ she says.
As a way of being self-sufficient, she says she would work part-time to raise money for herself to ease the burden on her parents.
â€œI got my first job when I was 15 years old in 1999 because I wanted to help my parents. Because I love children, I would usually baby-sit and also work as a clerk at a law firm,â€ Tasila says.
But although she has a passion for serving, Tasila is cognisant of the fact that it is never an easy ride for women in politics as it is for the menfolk.
However, she believes there is nothing that men can do that women cannot do if they are equally determined, especially that gender equality is critical in national development.
She says women must be assertive if they are to compete in the political arena.
â€œI know itâ€™s not easy for women to be in politics but we can do it, we just need to remain focused and determined. I am mature and once voted into office, I will work diligently to improve the lives of the people regards public health,â€ she says.
She says she will ensure routine garbage collection in her area and that all waste is dumped in designated places to avoid diarrhoea diseases associated with negligence in public health issues.
Tasila, who successfully filed her nomination papers last week, is now concentrating on her campaign.
â€œMy father has always advised me to think beyond the box. For my campaigns, I do not want to burden him with pressure because he also has a big task ahead of him. Luckily, I have been receiving calls from well-wishers willing to help with the campaigns and I am grateful to God for that,â€ she says.
Asked what she would do if she did not win, Tasila says she would accept defeat because leadership comes from God. She, however, says that will not discourage her from continuing with her community service.
She says she is independent and a hard worker who is determined to work to ensure that she wins the election.
Although she says her father, President Lungu, does not believe in a culture of pampering his children as a way of showing love, being part of the first family has its perks.
â€œMy father does not believe in giving us what we want whenever we ask; you have to justify why you want something. But he is the best father any child can wish for. But I must say that being a President`s daughter has created opportunities for me to interact with people I would not have normally been able to meet with,â€ she says with a smile.
Tasila, who describes her father as her role model, says Mr Lungu is a good and smart leader who listens to people.
â€œI want to be like him one day because I believe that being a leader doesnâ€™t mean you know everything. There might be people who know more than you do,â€ she says.
Tasila says she also has a great relationship with her mother, the first lady, with whom she enjoys a great mother- daughter relationship.
Tasila is also passionate about issues pertaining to early marriages. She says teenage marriages rob girls of their childhood and their right to education.
For fun, Tasila says she enjoys athletics, reading and singing. In fact she always dedicates an hour every morning to jogging before she starts her day. She is also a prayer warrior at the Catholic Church.
Her weekends are spent with her family.
â€œI donâ€™t like shopping unless itâ€™s extremely necessary. I also donâ€™t like travelling either. I love my natural look, so I cut my hair every two weeks. I love to keep my hair short,â€ she chuckles.
For food, Tasila says her favourite dish is chibwabwa (pumpkin leaves) mixed with groundnuts and chikanda (locally known as African polony).
In terms of local languages, apart from ChiNyanja, Tasila also speaks and understands Bemba and Lamba.
Like any other young woman, Tasila hopes to get married one day and her dream husband is an independent man, a good man who loves babies because she would love to have two children.
MWAPE MWENYA, Lusaka