Questions to Dennis Mwanza Chief of Party at SUWASA

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Dennis at Mt Kenya
Dennis at Mt Kenya

 

 

  1. What is your personal history?

 

I was born and grew up in Mwanjawanthu Petauke District; a rural growth center that had a post office, a rural health center, the Chief’s palace, a few shops, agricultural offices as well as veterinary assistants, a local court and a cooperative shop.

My first experience of a big city was when I went to David Kaunda Secondary Technical School (DKSTS). We were all very excited about my selection to DKSTS but financial requirements dampened the family’s excitement. My parents did not earn a regular income so money for school was a great challenge. In fact, even though my dad was a bricklayer, building contracts at village level were rare. When they appeared, the terms of payment were poor and many a time it was a barter system of payment (cattle, clothes, fertilizer etc.). Money was a worry and my dad tried to borrow money for my school costs but mum was a prayerful woman and did not give up hope. I remember evenings when seated by the fire she would encourage me and advise that I should not worry as God knew why He was sending me to a school so far away.

 

  1. What did you want to be?

 

After my five years of secondary school at DKSTS, I was determined to become a Doctor. The profession dad had always wanted to undertake himself but for lack of support. His dad (my grandfather) had many cattle but the Nsenga tradition was such that dad had to be paid for by his uncles (his mum’s brothers). Suffice it to say he did not go far in school (Standard 6).  The desire to study medicine was therefore passed to his first-born son –I.

 

  1. Why did you not do medicine?

 

I did not make it into university based on my end of secondary exam results and was disappointed that my name was not on the list of those accepted (at neither UNZA nor CB). I was very frustrated and going to Natural Resources Development College (NRDC) was like a consolation so I was determined not to stay but, after my first year at NRDC, I realized there was no need for me to be frustrated and I dug-in.

I graduated with distinction and was crowned the best ever student that any lecturer could remember, getting mostly A+. I was immediately offered a place at the University of Zambia at the School of Agriculture by the then Vice Chancellor of the University of Zambia, Dr. Jacob Mwanza (no relationship at all).

 

  1. What are you doing at present?

 

 I am Chief of Party responsible for SUWASA (Sustainable Water and Sanitation in Africa) project. This project is across sub-Saharan Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zambia, Mozambique, Liberia, Senegal, and South Sudan). I manage a team of people with different specialties and I have been travelling a lot to different countries.  Mainly to promote the program encouraging the establishment of autonomous water companies that, do not depend on Government for operational subsidies.

 

  1. What do you miss most about Zambia?

 

I have been in Kenya for 9 years but Zambia is home and I love its beauty and people. I miss the quarterly travels to visit my parents in Petauke (God bless them), being in Lusaka West a very serene environment, and of course, traditional vegetables like rape, ka nsima, my friends from Church and my relatives.

I certainly plan to go back to Zambia only question is when. God granting me long life, I would like to end up in Zambia in my old age.

 

  1. What is your advice to a young professional looking to follow your career path?

 

Do not be frustrated when things do not seem to work your way. Remain focused and determined. Set a goal for yourself and keep your eyes on the goal you have set for yourself.

Do not be distracted by life’s many bottlenecks. I have followed a very successful career path – starting with a Diploma in water engineering, then UNZA to get my BENG and finally UK to do a Masters at University of Newcastle upon Tyne followed by a PhD at the Loughborough University.

Be proud of what you are doing now and apply your full strength in it however, do not be satisfied with the status quo. Be determined to move on in your career.

 

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