Photo of Justin Mukumbuta Mubita
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Staff Spotlight: Justin Mukumbuta Mubita

Jan 21, 2021

We spoke to Justin Mukumbuta Mubita this month about his life in Zambia, his job at PMC, and the origins of his storytelling talents.

What is your name, position, and how long have you worked for PMC?

My name is Justin Mukumbuta Mubita. At PMC-Zambia, I am the scripter and a PMC international trainer. I have been working with PMC since September 2018.

What is your favorite thing about working at PMC?

PMC activities are quite unique because there is a variety of work to be done. I enjoy every step of what we do as PMC. What I like the most is creating characters, writing up their imaginary life stories (from start to end), and giving them a place to live. It’s a little like playing the role of God. We give these characters real-life activities depicting the real life of the audience target group under the theme for which we desire a good behavior change. The joy of creating these characters and storylines is really awesome.

One of my favorite memories during my time at PMC was at a workshop for writers funded by USAID in Zambia. Eric, the PMC-Zambia Deputy Resident Representative, called me to attend the workshop, but I didn’t think I would get anything out of it. Compared to everyone’s experience and education at the workshop, I felt so small. My strength and confidence were only reborn and further revitalized when Dr. Kriss Baker started teaching us. She and her team, which included Tom Kazungu and Lindsay Raid, created an atmosphere in which all the participants were regarded equal.

What is a normal day for you at PMC?

In my work with PMC, a “normal day” is when I am busy working. This may either be writing scripts for a radio show, collaborating with other writers, or participating in an international program as a trainer.

Why did you decide to work for PMC?

I love writing and telling stories. I remember sometime back along the Zambezi flood plain where I was born, in the village called Likuli, everyone enjoyed the stories or folktales I would tell in the evening after supper with everyone around the fire. I am one of the Lozis in Zambia who is able to teach Lozi, speak it, write it, and know the Lozi culture and history very well. Many organizations and government institutions used me a lot for this ability, but there was nothing for me to write home about, other than being praised by people and such related comments. So, coming in contact with PMC is a dream come true for me. With PMC I have found a home in which my gifts and talents are used as life-changing rays for the benefit of many. I have much joy and peace of mind in working with PMC. We’re in an environment in which my little efforts are magnified, valued, and go a long way to positively impact the lives of many people. This is beautiful for me!

It’s worth mentioning that today I am building a house to live in with my family because of my work at PMC. I know it may take time to finish, but am so happy that I have started, and the joy will echo in the sky a million times. I just pray for good health and long life. I will always do the best I can.

Tell us a little about your childhood, family, or favorite things to do outside of PMC.

My childhood was rough! I was born prematurely at seven months in Likuli village along the Zambezi flood plain of western Zambia. I was born with the help of village birth attendants in 1976 in the month of August (Muyana in the Lozi language) on the 7th, in the evening of that blessed day at 18:00 hours (information kept in the Village Book). After I was born, there was great drama among my family members. I am the third born and first male child on my father’s side. On my mother’s side, I am the second born and second male child.

As per the custom then, it was my grandfather who was to give me his name as his first grandson. But he refused! His argument was that his name was just going to go in vain because the chances that I was going to live were zero. He said a child born prematurely at seven months used to be thrown away during his childhood times. But my Dad was happy that at last there was a boy child, but again he was worried that his son would not survive. My mom was very positive that I would survive. My grandpa was so strict with his name, so my Mom gave me a name by herself “Ailola,” which means “a nice person loved by people.” She also named me “Justin” and gave me the nickname, “Super!”

Life along the Zambezi plain revolves around fishing, cattle rearing, and subsistent farming. People grow maize and rice. I am so grateful to my Dad that under difficult conditions, he supported me in school until I finished grade 12 at UCZ Sefula Secondary School in 1998. As it is, I am the only child in my family who managed to finish secondary school. My grades were great and I obtained a full school certificate.

I was accepted to the University of Zambia in the School of Natural Sciences in 2000 when I moved to Lusaka, but after three months I could not continue due to financial constraints. I was living in a police camp with my uncle then, and life was unbearable. I joined a company called Agriflora as a security guard. I opted for working nights so that during the day I could go to school. I started studying journalism, but again I had to stop my studies. Agriflora closed, and everything was back to square one. I started offering private lessons in mathematics, biology, physics, and chemistry. The pay was good, but I could not make enough money for any meaningful developments. At some point in 2009, after making some money, I decided to start studying food science and nutrition at the National Resources Development College (NRDC). I thought I was going to finish this course but could not. Untrained teachers were no longer allowed to conduct any kind of teaching, which destroyed the little tutoring business I was doing.

Outside of PMC: In 2002, I married my wife, Gladness Mwangata Banda. We have four children together, all boys ages 10 months, 6, 12, 17.  I am also a minister at the New Apostolic Church and the Rector of Ng’ombe congregation in Lusaka. This is voluntary work, there is no money I get out of it. I also have a personal small business where I offer translation and interpretation services, from English into Zambian local languages and vice versa.