Columnists Features

Christabel: A heavy equipment operator who loves driving

YOU might think she is just another ordinary mother of three, but is far from being ordinary.
Christabel Chasaya Sakalunda, 37 is the first female driver at the Copperbelt University (CBU) in Kitwe.
She is also the first female driver of a Vice Chancellor at the higher institution of learning.
While working at Ndola Lime Company Limited on an unknown date in August 2014, she bought a copy of the Times of Zambia where she saw an advertisement for a driver at the CBU.
She prepared her application with necessary documentation and to her surprise she was picked.
Christabel was the only female applicant among 11 males for both practical and theory during the job interviews she attended in October 2014.

CHRISTABEL with her husband Stanley Sakalunda and their daughters.
Asked why she opted to apply for a job perceived to be a man’s profession, Mrs Sakalunda is confident that everyone has the ability to do anything that any human being can do regardless of gender.
“I remember hearing someone saying women do not need to be drivers because there are no roads between the laundry room and the kitchen. For me that is totally unacceptable. Anyone can do anything regardless of their gender,” she said.
For Mrs Sakalunda, the ability to contribute, make a difference and have a tangible impact by turning one’s passion into action is not dependant on their gender.
Born on January 28, 1979 in a family of four, Mrs Sakalunda is the only female.
“I am the second-born and we are four. I have an older brother and two younger brothers. I grew up knowing we can all do all things regardless of the gender,” she said.
Married to Stanley Sakalunda, she is usually mistaken for her Vice Chancellor’s wife whenever she is in the driving seat.
Mrs Sakalunda holds a Diploma in Heavy Equipment Repair from Northern Technical College (Nortec) in Kitwe. She graduated from Nortec in 1999. Immediately after graduating, she joined Toyota Zambia as a motor vehicle technician.
In 2001, Mrs Sakalunda joined Ndola Lime Company Limited as a motor vehicle technician until February 2015 when she resigned to join CBU.
“I started work at CBU as a driver in February 2015. When I reported to CBU, I worked in the vice chancellor’s office in the first week but since I had not worked as a driver before I decided to change the section to gain experience. That is how I started working in the school of natural resources as a driver,” she said.
In March 2016, Mrs Sakalunda was taken back to the vice chancellor’s office to work as a driver.
“Working in the Vice chancellor’s office has been exciting and challenging too. It’s been exciting because I tend to meet notable people and sometimes, I am instructed to be their driver. I am glad to work with Professor Naison Ngoma because he is like a parent to me. I usually get valuable advice from him,” she said.
Like every job, Mrs Sakalunda, too, has faced challenges in her new job.
“The challenges come because I am mother. Although my husband is supportive to our three children, the children are small, aged 8, 6 and 4 and naturally need motherly care more often. Sometimes children fall ill when I am away and this usually affects my work.
“I had never worked as a driver before have I ever undergone a training in diplomatic etiquette, so when it comes to treating high-ranking people that come to meet the Vice Chancellor, I usually used to find it challenging. But with time, I am slowly learning the art of doing things,” she said.
She went to Kitwe primary and Ndeke primary schools and for her secondary education, she went to Mpatamatu secondary in Luanshya.
Just what motivates Mrs Sakalunda?
She says her motivation is the passion for challenging work and her mother, too.
“Most people get a shock when I tell them I am a driver. Anyone can do anything to get by every day. My mother was the first Zambian woman to do automotive training and she has always motivated me to do extraordinary work,” she said.
While there is no magic formula in people moving past their limitations, Mrs Sakalunda says the onus depends on the individual.
She says she never gives up because there is always going to be the lows and the highs of any profession.
“I hope to be able to keep my aspirations so I can move upwards in the profession, I would love to have the opportunity to race around the country”, she said.
As she aspires to the top, Mrs Sakalunda says she will ensure that she remains focused despite facing challenges in life. Now, that’s what you call determination.

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