I have always respected women professors and I still do respect them, definitely for obvious reasons. And part of the family values that were planted in us at an early age was to respect both our elders and leaders.
Growing up and through school, I was one of the most ‘disciplined’ students who were loved by my teachers and fellow students.
Back in the early 1970s, when I enrolled for university like every one else who has been to that level of education during this same period, knows what we used to call campus excitement or to put more academic we called it “grooming intellectuals”.
For the next three years, I was to pursue a degree in journalism and one of the lecturers in my first semester was a young associate professor from Zambia called Harriet Chimbonda.
She had big bright eyes, with a round British like face that was proportional to her body and the two big creases around her neck gave her a typical African look.
“Hullo colleagues,” she was down to earth with a high sense of humility to the extent that it was kind of a student-to- student relationship.
On her first lecture, accidentally I pulled a chair on which she was to sit, hence falling off but let go of the matter since she realised it was not a malicious, intended act.
But still she dubbed me stubborn and appointed me the class representative in a bid to curb my ‘rampant’ behaviour.
With my new responsibility, it meant more and frequent interactions with the Zambian professor. It got so social that we got talking about her social life and her family in Lusaka.
One evening in her staff house, I had to take the attendance roll call for her to sign. When she was done with signing, she proposed a cup of coffee which I gladly welcomed.
She made it very fast and we got on an old but classic table, sipping the hot coffee together with potato chips a favourite in Zambia. “Shooter, why did you choose journalism?”
“I have this natural passion for it… nothing much” I said and by now she had fixed her bright eyes into mine and I was beginning to lose my appetite for coffee.
Given her job and being a few years my senior, I would not utter out the heavy load inside my heart but she sensed something was amiss. “Come-on shooter, are you okay and comfortable?” she asked and absentmindedly I said “yeah I need more soda”.
This sent her laughing and she sent me back to the hostel ending my visit prematurely though, with a bar of chocolate which confused and disorganised me more.
It was one morning during an exam, when I thought it was appropriate to at least, let her know how I felt about her. So I scribbled something from the Song of Songs that I can’t remember.
She was on duty to supervise the exam and she saw the note, and concluded it was unauthorised material for cheating and ordered me to her office.
While in the office she unfolded it and read what was there, and good enough there was no staff member in the office
“Look shooter, you have to get this devil out of your head and forget about me and if I ever sense anything like this again you will be out of this university”.
I ate my humble pie and went back to the exam a loser. Trust Chimbonda, she remained good to me with more chocolate until she went back to her native Zambia.
Sometimes, being over ambitious in a battle isn’t that good as you end up shooting off target.