By Veronica Gwaze
Each time celebrated social commentator Dr Rebecca Chisamba watches her shows, she is pleasantly surprised by her near-flawless handling of the programme and some off-the-cuff responses she delivers on tough questions.
Actually, she believes this is because of God’s grace.
Perhaps this is why Mai Chisamba, as she is affectionately called by her legion of followers, believes being a social commentator is a divine vocation.
“I always watch my shows and fail to understand where I get some of the things I say or responses I give during the shoot,” she told The Sunday Mail Society last week.
“It can only be the work of God. Looking back at how the journey started, I see he had all this figured out, though I initially had no confidence in myself.”
But, most legends create projects that usually collapse when they retire or upon their demise.
Most often, their children struggle to fit in their parent’s big shoes when they try to do so.
Does the founder of “Mai Chisamba Show” have a succession plan in place to safeguard her legacy?
“It is difficult to teach anyone what I do. It has to be an inborn thing. The job sometimes requires one to think on their feet as there often is no script. One has to understand the concept and intended results.
“Sometimes I host academics like professors and other big names, but God simply gives me the intelligence, agility and humour that is needed to make the show flow. How do you groom someone into all that?” quizzed the undisputed queen of talk show.
Her family has a keen interest in “Mai Chisamba Show”, including The Sunday Mail weekly column, but she reckons that does not qualify any one of them as a potential successor.
One of her daughters, Gamuchirayi, is employed at Chisamba Productions as a graphic designer.
“My family supports the show, but succession is not all about being part of the show. I love what I do and would be happy for it to be even more vibrant after my departure, hence there is need to cast the net even outside the family . . .”
Her road to stardom started when she was still a school teacher in Mhondoro.
This was after her now late headmaster Douglas Sanyahungwe seconded her to represent the school at some television auditions in Harare.
Surprisingly, she was not amused by the decision.
But unknown to her, this was to mark a new chapter in her life.
“I have now achieved a lot in life because of a path that he created for me. To date, I still feel he passed on before I could thank him enough. However, I frequently visit his family with some groceries just to appreciate what he did for me.”
Mai Chisamba’s following continues to grow with each passing day.
Ordinarily, this means more work for the wife and mother of five.
“The job is demanding, hence I have to plan carefully to balance my professional and private life, though it is difficult at times. I never compromise my family time.
“. . . to create a balance, I have enlisted the services of a personal assistant who plans my schedule and ensures that I catch up with all programmes.”
However, some of her followers call her during odd hours of the day for advice on different issues.
“I sometimes work around the
clock because my work means a lot out there. I used to switch off my phones at night until I realised that I need to be reachable every time,” she added with a chuckle.
Away from work, she is a friendly and fun-loving character.
She is so open that her children consider her a “friend”and others prefer using her professional title, Mai Chisamba.
However, she barely talks about her children in public as they value their privacy.
Like many other people around the globe, her programmes have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
But where there is a will there is a way.
Technology is increasingly making it possible to have a strong presence online.
“Covid-19 affected us a lot, but there is always a silver lining in every difficult situation. Online marketing platforms have boosted our following across borders,” she said.
But, how does she select topics to tackle on her shows?
“Every week is a new project because society evolves, new issues emerge and we need to address them, thus we are constantly researching and consulting widely. Society, particularly families, remain the core focus.”
Speaking rich Shona is one of her trademarks.
“I am an ambassador of local languages and I want to show the world that we can do anything in our languages. I feel proud of local artistes who now create and promote content in our languages.”
With more than 30 accolades under her belt, Mai Chisamba is a motivational speaker at universities, marriage counsellor and a trusted voice in churches and organisations within and beyond borders.
She has five children, two boys and three girls and five grandchildren. The Sunday Mail