BDN Staff Writer
SHOWING WHAT SHE IS MADE OF
Jennifer M’modzi admits that she lives in “a man’s world.”
The 28-year-old native of the African city of Lilongwe, Malawi, has succeeded in a male-dominated society despite her gender. She has earned the job of CEO of a Christian radio station in Malawi, one of only 14 radio stations in the country.
M’modzi has made a visit to the Ozarks this week and will speak to a women’s group at the Tri-Lakes Center in Branson Friday about the Christian ministry the radio station is providing in Malawi.
“Some of the ladies got the stories of what we are doing back home, so the women at Tri-Lakes Church, The Women of Worship, put together some money and got us a ticket so they could hear more about what we’re doing back home.”
M’modzi said her radio station, Channel for All Nations (CAN) 101.5 FM, plays primarily Christian music with about 60 percent of the programming in the native language of Chichewa and 40 percent in English, which is the universal language of trade throughout the African continent.
M’modzi said in addition to the Christian programming the station airs government broadcasts about spreading diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV. CAN has also featured informational spots from the American embassy in Malawi.
“We worked a lot back home with the American embassy as well on democracy and human rights, so we did a lot on conflict resolution — traditional, political and religious conflict resolution,” M’modzi said. “We hope we will get to work with other organizations as well.”
M’modzi said the station also has programming to target its primary audience, the youth of the nation, in a population with an average life expectancy of 34.
“We talk about drug abuse, we talk about different issues the youth face in our country, so it helps that we have a youthful work crew there,” M’modzi said.
The young CEO said it has become part of her personal mission to help the youth in Malawi, much in the same way she was once helped.
“I grew up around Christian people in a Christian home — not very practicing — but a Christian home,” M’modzi said. “We went to Sunday school, we memorized verses, we knew what you should do and shouldn’t do.
“As I was growing up — 21 and there about — I really lost my way and got into things I shouldn’t have done. A lot of sexual stuff, alcohol abuse, a lot of dysfunctional relationships and so on, but in 2004 I was blessed to get back to the Lord. Some people led me back to a good place and prayed for me. That really helped me get back on track and now everyday is a blessing.”
M’modzi said she has also faced some hardships since taking over the radio stations job of CEO.
“I really just got the job by luck,” M’modzi said. “I had the most experience in marketing and had worked for the state’s radio station, so they went ahead and gave me the job.”
M’modzi said one of the trials she has overcome is the unreliable electrical service in Malawi.
“The power will often go off for hours, and we will be off the air,” M’modzi said. “But a local church has donated a generator to us, so we can stay on the air.”
She said the other challenges have come from being a woman in a leadership position.
“I haven’t had any problem from Christian men, but others wouldn’t show me respect or do the things I asked them to do because I am a woman,” M’modzi said. “But it is just tradition, it’s how people were raised.”
She said since then the situation has improved with younger people, just starting their careers, being hired at the station.
She said she will also receive more respect from men after she marries her fiance, Mark Bottomani, in December.
“That will keep men from flirting with me just because I am not married,” M’modzi said. “Mark is a very good Christian man. He will make a very good husband.”
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