Breaking new ground
MASERU – All ’Malelingoana Makafane, 32, wanted was to study marketing at university, a course most considered ‘feminine and soft’.
But when she failed to make it to university after completing her studies at St Michael’s High School in Leribe, Makafane enrolled at Lerotholi Polytechnic for a course most considered completely at odds with her femininity.
She chose fitting and machinery. That was 14 years ago. Today, Makafane is the only woman operating a packer machine at AfriSam’s cement production plant in the Maseru West industrial area.
She says she is proud she chose the right course way back in 2004. This has enabled her to land herself a job as a fitter, for several machines at the plant, and as a skilled craftsperson at AfriSam.
“I did not take long to study, it just took me three years from 2005 to 2008,” she says.
She says although it took her eight years to find a permanent job after graduating she is convinced she selected the right course.
“At first I had no idea what the course was all about. My (high school exam) results actually chose for me which course to undertake and lucky enough ‘they’ led me to the right path,” she says.
“My former classmates at Mpharane (St. Michael’s) told me that the course could open so many work opportunities for me and could take me places.”
Her face lights up as she tells thepost about her new job at AfriSam.
“I love my job and I am here at AfriSam to stay.”
But it was not all smooth flowing after she completed her studies at Lerotholi Polytechnic. She says she looked for a job for eight years before she got one at AfriSam.
Makafane joined AfriSam in October last year.
“I couldn’t believe myself after I received a call from AfriSam telling me I had got the job. My mother was so happy for me.”
She says her workmates, all of whom are men, “make my work easier as they are very co-operative. They know how to work hand-in-hand with others and we have unity”.
“They really appreciate my presence,” Makafane says.
The big challenge she faces is working on the night shift. She says she still finds it a challenge to work at night but hopes she will soon get used to it.
“Night shift is worth doing although I don’t get a chance to spend quality time with my family.”
“I am super excited that I work with men. It’s not something new. It’s not a new experience as I attended school with boys,” she says.
“The exciting part about working with men is that they have sympathy and they are not selfish, they help one to learn unlike some women who only want to be praised alone,” Makafane notes.
Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and the First Lady ’Mathato praised Makafane during the launch of AfriSam recently for her bravery.
“In our culture, a woman is automatically called Ntsoaki if she is the only one among men and as for her she is not just Ntsoaki by name,” Mosisili said.
Makafane’s maiden name is Ntsoaki, which refers to a girl in the company of boys.
“It is my fervent hope that there will be many ‘Ntsoakis’ who will join her in time,” Mosisili said.
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