Life on campus is described by many students as an exciting, adventurous, mind exploring as well as a challenging journey. Many youths often look forward to graduate from high school and join the university, as many perceive getting an admission in the university as one of life’s biggest trophy. Life on campus is described by many students as an exciting, adventurous, mind exploring as well as a challenging journey. Many youths often look forward to graduate from high school and join the university, as many perceive getting an admission in the university as one of life’s biggest trophy.
This is the same in Zambia where getting an admission at the University of Zambia (UNZA), which is the country’s highest institution, as an enormous achievement and usually attracts great respect from society and the nation at large. Parents also cannot help themselves but brag about their child’s admission into the university.
However one might say that being student at UNZA is often hard, as this draws society to expect a lot from the student. It is more challenging for an UNZA Moma (a common term for a female student at UNZA).
Before we even get into the details of the many challenges faced by UNZA momas, perhaps one would wonder how the term UNZA Moma came about. Unfortunately, there are no factual reasons on how the term was developed, what is evident, however, is that every UNZA female student finds no problem being called Moma; one would argue that possibly the girls enjoy being called Moma as this distinguishes them from other female students from other learning institutions.
It is so weird and surprising that there are actually some meals that have been named Moma sauce, simply implying dishes mostly preferred by UNZA female students on campus such as Nshima with scrambled eggs.
Nevertheless being an UNZA Moma comes with its challenges, for instance stereotype against the Momas.
Momas are generally seen as less intelligent both by the male students and sometimes the lectures too. One may say female students have to put more effort into school work for them to arrive at the same “position” as male students. It is almost like Momas always have to proof that they are good enough to their lectures and tutors in everything they do.
This is even the same at nation-level; women who get promoted to high position in employment have to really work hard. Perhaps that is one of the reason such polices as gender equity are being implemented.
One Moma by the name of Nelly Zulu, who is studying Development Studies, disclosed that "a lot of female students actually want to go for their masters immediately after completing their first degrees but are sacred of how the Zambian society will view them, as the Zambian society is very primitive on issues of gender and men see women who are highly educated not be appropriate wives. Hence, in reality, Zambian men are afraid of dating or marrying a lady who is very educated because that kills their ego."
She also revealed that sometimes even the thought of her going to pursue a Masters in Development Studies directly after is scary as society and even her parents expect her to settle down and start a family for herself.
Nelly added that being a Moma at UNZA is hard.
She said "many hostels have been allocated to the male students leaving the Momas vulnerable as many have to come from boarding houses which are quite far. While others on other hand, have to come from home". Nelly deemed this as stressful hence attributing it to the low performance of Momas in their academics.
All in all, Nelly would not dream of exchanging the experience as an UNZA Moma for anything else in the world, as she considered the experience to be adventurous, mind blowing and innovative despite the challenges she and other Momas face.