Faith Kandaba: Blunt, sharp, soft


FAITH Kandaba, who died on Tuesday, February 24, was one of the most recognisable faces on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation television (ZNBC TV), where she had worked for 17 years as a broadcaster.
Moments following her passing at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), tributes began pouring in from many sources via social media.
Many talked of her dedication to work and affinity to objectivity and professionalism.
In a posting on his Facebook page, President Lungu described Faith as a “distinguished journalist”.

“Faith was a fearless, courageous, bold and objective journalist who contributed immensely, in her own way, to the growth of editorial independence and objective reporting at ZNBC,” Mr Lungu said.
“Our deep-felt condolences go to her family, board and management of ZNBC and the media fraternity for this untimely loss of a distinguished journalist,” he added.
And Maureen Nkandu, the distinguished journalist who began her career as a newscaster at ZNBC years back, before joining the British Broadcasting Corporation, posted:

“Saddened at the news of the death of ZNBC’s Faith Kandaba. Although I knew her from a distance, I observed that she was a consummate professional who did her job well. She will be missed.”

In person, Faith was an imposing figure – tall and of heavy built. She usually stood out in a crowd. But it was her personality and character that really set her apart.
Faith was not a push-over and usually stood her ground on issues. Very few people could stand up to Faith; she fiercely defended her positions – a trait acknowledged by her former boss, Chibamba Kanyama, who once headed ZNBC as director general.

“This is one journalist who could not easily be compromised; had a thoroughly balanced approach to her career. She was among those journalists who made me a very proud director general at the time I served at ZNBC,” says Mr Kanyama.
Mr Kanyama also describes Faith as one of the most highly principled and hardworking personalities “I have ever met. Faith Kandaba loved the truth; she valued objectivity”.

“Just do the right thing,” was one of Faith’s famous line whenever she was confronted with situations that would compromise her professionalism.
When Faith was asked to produce a documentary on President Lungu’s one year in office recently, her initial response was: “If it’s not balanced then I’m not doing it.”
She did it, and it was the last documentary she ever produced.

Faith may also have passed as a perfectionist in her grammar.
“She was almost near perfect when it came to pronunciations,” says Grevazio Zulu, who worked with Faith and had been her close friend for many years till her death.
Faith’s fussiness about English grammar was no doubt the result of the kind of schooling she was subjected to as a young girl. Faith attended a Catholic primary school before enrolling at the prestigious Ibenga Secondary School, a mission school run by the Catholic Church.

As a young girl, Faith had expressed a strong desire to become a journalist, and she followed her dream.
Kellys Kaunda, the polished journalist who met a straight-from-college Faith and didn’t think much of her as a broadcaster, said in his tribute: “She set out to become a newscaster and she was naturally and professionally primed for it. When you are attracted to a profession by a natural desire, you tend to flow in the practice.”
Faith joined ZNBC in 1999 as a newscaster after studying at Norma-Jean College. She never looked back, rising to become news manager. Her last position was that of head of content research.

During interviews, Faith was always engaging with an intense look. Many will also remember her doing commentaries during national events such as independence celebrations.

Before she became a journalist, Faith was involved in charity work with the Catholic nuns, usually providing home-based care for the sick or visiting prisoners.

And as a journalist, Faith was driven by something greater, something deeper than her desire for journalism excellence – love for humanity and justice.
This can also be seen in some of her productions, such as “The Silent Voices”, a documentary she did focusing on children with cerebral palsy.

“You would not have a discussion without her pushing the agenda for the marginalised – for women or children,” says Grevazio.
He recalls Faith buying a pack of diapers and a blanket for a poor mother who used to go round her office to sell books.
“Faith was truly human and she truly loved people,” he says.
Faith was given to charity and was the one to buy food for cleaners around her office.
She also loved to mentor young journalists, giving them small lessons on grammar and intonation.

A devout Catholic, Faith hated gossip. She was friendly, always insisting to be called by her first name. But, yes, Faith could be explosive.
“It was difficult to understand Faith sometimes, because sometimes she would be very hard on a position, so some people would take her to be arrogant,” he says.
“Faith was full of humility but very frank. She never minced her words,” recalls Kunda Chinyanta, a media specialist who also attended the same parish as Faith.

Some of her friends, like Chishaba Masengu, believe that her toughness and aggressiveness were usually a cover-up for her very soft and fragile inner being.
“She was very fragile, gentle and nice, but if you didn’t know her and you caught her at the wrong time, you would think you were meeting a very aggressive person,” says Grevazio.
Faith Zanyaza Kandaba was born on June 27, 1975 in Kitwe. She was the third-born child of Simon Kenneth Kandaba, who worked as a policeman before he set up a transportation business. Her mother, Rosemary Lunda, did some work with the Young Women Christian Association.
Both parents died when Faith was a young girl and she was taken up by her aunt.
Faith never got married, neither did she have children, but she had a deep sense of love for children.
About a week before her passing, Faith had been complaining of a headache, although that hardly kept her from work. However, when the pain got worse, she was admitted to UTH, where she died.

The mellifluous, yet purposeful voice that for many years filtered through the television set fell silent.
Faith Kandaba will be put to rest today at Leopard’s Hill Memorial Park in Lusaka.

Zambia Daily Mail