By Bruce Ndlovu
Before she captured the hearts of radio listeners on the then Radio 2, Brenda Moyo almost became a nurse. The year was 1985 and Moyo had enrolled to train as a healthcare professional at Mpilo Central Hospital.
Inspired by the likes of Jabulani Mangena, Amon Nyamambi and Harry Nleya, she decided sometime during the middle of her training that she wanted to test her voice on the airwaves.
The year 1985 was to be the beginning of her romance with ZBC, a relationship that lasted almost over two decades.
“I almost became a nurse before I became a broadcaster. I did my training at Mpilo Hospital but did not finish. So, besides broadcasting, being a healthcare operative has always been my passion.
“I enjoy it so much. I have many stories to tell, but that is for another day,” the former broadcaster who was recently in Zimbabwe for holidays told Sunday Life in an interview.
A lot has changed for Moyo, now based in the United States, since she left the station in 2002 which made her one of the most recognisable voices in Zimbabwe. For one, she has changed profession, becoming a healthcare worker, a calling she had forsaken before her flirtation with radio.
“Somehow, I changed my orbit and changed course career wise. I went on to train as a nursing assistant and have been working in healthcare ever since . . . Maybe I’ll write a book.
“This is not a promise but just a maybe. But the job has taught me a lot about caring, compassion, patience and kindness. We need more of these attributes as human beings — not less,” she said
Moyo still remembers her last days at ZBC. It was a time of great upheaval which ripped her away from the one thing that she cherished the most — radio.
“The last days were hell! No one wants to be retrenched while at the top of their game. New people were coming in to take our jobs while we were still there. Emotions were high,” she said.
Life after ZBC was not rosy for a presenter who had spent most of her professional life working at the station.
“Adjusting to life after ZBC was a little hard. I was lost for months trying to forge a new path. Fortunately, some advertising agencies continued to give me gigs and I was able to maintain a decent lifestyle.
“Then came Voice Of America. Radio never left me completely, even to this day. At times, I dream that I am late for my shift or a record has just finished playing before I cue the next. Isn’t that funny?” she said.
After a brief stint at the VOA in Zimbabwe in 2004 she moved to Studio 7 headquarters in Washington, USA, where she worked as a reporter and news anchor until 2011. While she might have sounded as smooth as ever on the airwaves, in reality, the transition was not so easy.
“It can be hard if you do not have a proper acclimatisation support system. First I had to adjust to a new time zone, new food, new way of life, communicating in English almost all the time.
“Little things such as doing groceries, transportation and learning to use different convenient machines can also be an issue. And you have to do pretty much everything by yourself. Housekeepers are not common in the US and they are expensive,” she said.
While for some moving to America might be the ultimate dream, it did not take long for her to regret her decision to switch continents.
“My first experience of iced or freezing rain made me want to go back home. I slipped and fell more than five times walking from the bus stop to my apartment, which was just three minutes away.
“People, especially women, dress differently sometimes. I do understand fashion trends but at times they leave nothing to imagination.
“I was shocked at how much sex is on television and people are free to talk about anything and everything. That is an aberration given how we were brought up. But then you get used to it,” she said.
While she might have switched professions, Moyo acknowledged that radio will always be in her blood. Acknowledging that she had lost touch with Zimbabwean radio, Moyo said she knew that things were no longer the same.
“I have since lost touch with Zimbabwean radio. I need to redress that, though. But each generation has its own stars. I’m sure there is amazing young talent out there.
“Uplifting our local languages was very important especially for Radio 2. All producers and presenters took pride in communicating in clear, simple unadulterated Ndebele, Shona, Kalanga languages. Radio was very respectful. I think that has changed,” she said.
Now a grandmother of three, Moyo said her grandchildren were her pride and joy, while she was also heavily invested in learning about the planet and life around her.
“I love to read; books, magazines, anything that adds value to my knowledge. I am a life student, if you will. I am perpetually trying to educate myself. I indulge in educational and instructional videos on different platforms such as YouTube and Netflix.
“I also watch lots of documentaries about the universe. I have also learnt how to cook, bake and crotchet. I love travelling and casual photography. And above all, I love to play with my three wonderful grandkids. They are a great source of joy,” she said. Sunday News