“Don’t Let Society Shape Who You Need To Be”- Says A Single Mother Of Four

A popular and fast rising Zambian gospel artiste in the UK, Lily Mutamz, has come out to share her inspirational story with the world. She tells of her academic pursuits,her challenges, and her eventual success.

I have never shared this!Growing up as a daughter of a pilot, when I was asked as a young child what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was air hostess. I saw it as an elite job:the Zambia Airways uniform was lovely, the ladies smelt good and their looks were that of models.

In our generation, girls automatically knew what they wanted to become. Society shaped our thinking. Usually we chose careers where we would be ‘girly’ or ‘lady like’. As I grew older, I kept on saying air hostess. As I reached senior secondary school, I looked at what air hostesses did and I said I wanted to be a pilot. I was adamant, I started working hard in my sciences. I remember when I finished high school, my dad asked me what I wanted to study. When I told him, he told me sorry that job is not for women, pick something else. I was a little crushed.

After high school, I was confused as to what I was going to study. I then saw one of my friends driving a car and asked my dad again if I could go to driving school, atleast it was closer to becoming a pilot, lol. I had nothing to do, I just wanted to keep myself busy whilst I waited for my dad to tell me what to do next. His response threw me, ‘sorry your husband will teach you how to drive’.

One day, as he was in the UK, he called my mum and told her that I should go to ZCAS and study accounting. I had never in my life ever thought I would be an accountant. I started with CAT and was passing but it was not out of my will. When the time came for me to come here(UK), I declined. Little did I know that my choice would change years later. As I settled here, I didn’t see myself becoming an accountant. I had no interest at all, sitting behind a desk for the whole day, that’s not me. I took a break from it and started working in a store called “Morrisons”as a shelf filler on the dairy section.

In 2006, my dad was leaving the UK and asked me to follow him home so I could go back to ZCAS. He wanted to pay for me to study accounting lol. I used wisdom and told him ‘dad let me try and do something here, I cannot go back to Zambia with no qualifications from here’. I was earning good money, so I took myself to driving school, I bought a car and started working as a care giver, looking after elderly people in hospitals and the community. This was when I discovered that my passion was in looking after the welfare of others.

In 2007 I applied to go to University and was offered a place to study Social Work at Buckinghamshire. I didn’t have the funds to do so. I had Ellen in 2008 and still talked about social work. I attended interviews even though I didn’t have the international fees to pay. In 2009 I received a phone call that changed my destiny. I started my free Diploma Access to Social Work (more like A Levels). I had Eileen in 2009 whilst doing my diploma, I still carried on studying.

My mind was made up. I remember telling my dad, he insisted on me studying accounting. I still went ahead with my plans, after all, it was a funded place. The time came for me to go to university and with no sponsor, how was I going to pay £8700 a year? Remember my dad was willing to pay if it was accounting, and nothing else. In 2010 an application for a small fund turned into a full scholarship at the University of Winchester. I was eager to share the news with my parents. I was going to be a graduate in social work. Both parents said why didn’t I choose accounting. Ehhh, I was broken, thought they would be proud. I went ahead with my course and graduated with honours. I worked with drug and alcohol addicts, mental patients, disabled people, homeless people, women from domestic abuse relationships and the elderly.

5 years later, I got an opportunity to pursue my Masters in Gender Conflict and Human Rights Law at Ulster University in Belfast. I needed a Social Science background to pursue this. If you ask me, I will tell you this, this was the best decision I ever made. I am glad I stuck to my decision because this is where my passion lies. Visiting Solwezi(In Zambia) for nearly 4 weeks when my university offer was in place, I saw myself doing things in the community and not accounting earning money for myself. No disrespect to accountants, but it’s just not me. Our work will begin under my NGO, the name will be unveiled during its launch. God was preparing me to serve people not count numbers as my parents wanted me to.

I have a confession to make lol. After flying 26 times to and from Belfast, I wonder how the cabin crew manage. I couldn’t certainly wake up to be on the plane 3 to 4 times in a week, it can’t work. Kudos to those who work as part of the cabin crew. I love my sleep, you are indeed strong.

To you that is reading, be stubborn about your career choice. Don’t let society shape who you need to be, choose wisely. I have no regrets for being stubborn. I did, and the universe favoured me. To God be the glory! Be inspired.

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