HUNDREDS of tributes have continued to flow in following the death of Zambia Daily Mail senior reporter Christine Chisha on Monday night at the University Teaching Hospital. Ms Chisha, 37, was a committee member of the Zambia Union of Journalists (ZUJ) and Zambia Media Women Association (ZAMWA) vice-treasurer.
Journalist Robinson Kunda, who is ZUJ general secretary, where Ms Chisha served as executive committee member, shares a tribute of how inspirational she was in shaping his career progression.
“In 2001 I arrived at Evelyn Hone to do a certificate in Public Relations and Journalism. I found myself in the same class with Steven Mvula (Daily Mail senior reporter) and George Chellah. Mr Chellah later worked as presidential aide under former President Michael Sata.
It was a one-year programme but Steven, George and I decided to go for another three-year diploma course while most of our friends found jobs. So when I was in my second year, I started writing a lot of stories and would mostly hand them to the then Zambia Daily Mail deputy news editor Mrs Joy Sata, who encouraged me to start helping on weekends. I obliged. So on my first day, I reported on the news desk but I had no idea just what to work on. The then news editor, Mr Evans Milimo, asked if I had any story I was working on and I said no. He immediately ordered me to go and sit in the Sports/Features section.
There I found the late Diana Zulu as a sports editor, the late Mr Charles Katongo was her deputy, while Mr Chapadongo Lungu (current Deputy Managing Director) was a chief reporter. Mr Chishala Musonda and late Victor Mwitwa worked as reporters while Christine Chisha was a correspondent on the desk.
Then she had friends like Laila Lungu and Sharon Siwale in features. Mr Amos Chanda (special assistant to the President for press and public relations) was features editor; his deputy was Mr Katongo Chisupa, while Mr Kasuba Mulenga (news editor) was the senior reporter.
The environment I found in sports and features was amazing. Mr Lungu gave me a lot of assignments and before long, I became a sports journalist, but I couldn’t find a lot of stories because I had few news sources. However, Christine and Victor were selfless – they introduced me to a number of people who were sports news makers.
Christine gave me a number for Power Dynamos chief Henson Sindowe and within weeks, I wrote a big scoop (about Power Dynamos coach Ben Bamfuchile resigning).
It was a huge story because Mr Bamfuchile was a good coach and when he quit, only the Zambia Daily Mail had a story. Mr Lungu then told me that I could make it in sports reporting and I was encouraged. Christine and I would walk long distances (to gather news) because at the time, Daily Mail had only one vehicle for all editorial staff, a red Toyota Venture. It wasn’t easy for a correspondent to go in the field with the vehicle because priority was given to full-time members of staff. Later, Victor (a full-time staffer) started walking with us because he enjoyed our company. That was it.
Christine and Victor launched my career. I became so good that when I completed my course in 2004, I was immediately given a full-time job. Sadly, a few years later, we lost Victor and now Christine is gone. Mwebantu (friends), how will I remember these two heroes? Chafina (the burden is heavy).”
MONICA MAYUNI-KAYOMBO writes that: “I came to know Christine Chisha in 2000 after being introduced to her by her cousins, Angela Nduba and Clement Chishimba who are also my good friends.
Later, she joined Zambia Daily Mail on the sports desk as a correspondent. I too worked as a correspondent on the news desk and later Sunday Mail desk.
Christine and I became close after the birth of her first child Suwilanji on Valentine’s Day at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in 2002.
The birth of her child brought so much joy to us (friends). We took roses and other gifts to the hospital just to celebrate with her.
We later became neighbours in Chainama’s PHI area and this is where we became close family friends.
We enjoyed our social and professional life together and enjoyed most of the meals together as one family either at my place or her place.
I was not a sports reporter, but because of our friendship, I attended sports-related assignments with Christine. She equally accompanied Angela and me on current affairs assignments.
I knew Christine as a fearless, jovial and dedicated person who stood for what she believed in.
When I moved to Ndola (while she remained in Lusaka) and was later elected ZUJ Ndola chapel president, we cordially related as union leaders, parents and of course workmates.
Last month, I learnt that Christine was not feeling well after she underwent an operation and when I called her, she said “Boi ndifye bwino (I am fine, my friend).’’ And I was optimistic she would recover fully.
Christine, your death is so devastating and unbelievable, rest in peace. I will remember you as a generous person, hard-working, selfless, jovial woman with a great sense of humour.
Christine gave her life to Christ. She was fondly called Profitable Daughter, a moniker she personally coined. Farewell Bana Suwi as heaven gains. You fought the good fight and you have finished the race!
And other tributes came from organisations such as the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and Zambia Media Women Association, which defined Christine as a determined journalist.
“Ms Chisha’s passing is a big blow to the media fraternity in Zambia as she was an icon of determination and resilience in media development. MISA Zambia will remember Ms Chisha for her boundless passion for professionalism and excellence in media practice,” a statement from the organisation read.
Zamwa chairperson Caroline Kalombe said in a statement that Ms Chisha was a vibrant reporter who was jovial and ever ready to support her fellows.
“Ms Chisha was a unionist, mentor and friend and her loss is a great blow to the journalism fraternity,” Ms Kalombe said.
At the time of her death, Ms Chisha was an executive member of the ZAMWA board executive holding the position of vice-treasurer.
Her spirit of media perseverance, novelty and excellence lives on.
Her gift of understanding people’s personal passion saw her create monikers for those she was close to.
“You were one of the first people I met at ZDM and from then, you have been my friend, sister, mentor and my prayer warrior. You jokingly named me Soccerchiq. You were happy when I was [happy], you were sad when I was [sad]. Today, Christine, you have gone to be with the Lord, how do I mourn you? You didn’t prepare me to live without you. How will I manage to stay without expecting a call from you every day? Christine, you have broken my heart. Go well profitable daughter,” her friend Katebe Chengo says on Facebook.
From the influence and motivation that she used to instil in the hearts of many, Christine was indeed a profitable daughter.