Monday, 4 July 2016

Namakau Siyanga: Mandela Washington Fellow With Presidential Ambitions

By Paul Shalala in Syracuse New York

She has a commanding voice and looks like a person who has no fear.

When she finds herself in a place were there is no coordination, Namakau Siyanga takes charge and makes sure order is restored.

When i first met her at Protea Arcades in Lusaka in May this year, it only took me a few minutes to realise that she sticks to time and works strictly to schedules.

On 11th May, all 2016 Mandela Washington Fellows based outside Lusaka met at the hotel to prepare for the following day's Pre-Departure Orientation at the American Embassy.

As a handful of us gathered at the lobby and looked confused, Namakau seized the opportunity and asked all of us to start introducing ourselves since we all had been quiet for at least 20 minutes.

She took charge of the meeting until an official from the embassy's Public Affairs Section came to officially address us.

Namakau being interviewed after mentoring Girl Guides
That is Namaku for you, a 34 year old Livingstone based female enterpreneur and gender activist who aspires to be Zambia's first female President.

But who is this Namakau am talking about?

Well, if you listen to her without seeing her face, you maybe mistaken that she is a man.

She speaks with authority and her voice is horse.

Namakau is one of the 44 Zambians who are currently attending the Mandela Washington Fellowship in the United States.

She is studying Business and Enterpreneurship at the University of Wisconsin - Stout.

Namakau (right) with former US President George Bush
Back home, Namakau is not just a business lady, she is also a family person.

She is married to Mr Siyanga and they have six children.

Namakau owns NAS Glass and Aluminium which is a holding company based in Livingstone.

One of its subsidiaries NAS Industries, which is a construction company, has so far done works at the Livingstone General Hospital and at the ultra modern Intercity Bus Terminus in the tourist capital.

Apart from business, Namaku is also a women's rights advocate who heads Naleli Women's Initiative.

In her native Lozi language, Naleli means a star.
Part of the works at Livingstone General Hospital 

Naleli is involved in a lot of advocacy and skills training among women and girls.

"We empower women with enterprenueral knowledge. We realise that since independence, there has been a stagnation in women run enterprises due to lack of finance," said Namaku.

She says she works with over 250 women and girls in some of the poorest suburbs of Livingstone.

Due to her success in business and women empowerment, Namaku has been invited to give presentations in places like Ghana, South Africa, The Netherlands and South America.

One of her greatest achievements was been honored with the Woman Enterpreneur of the Year Award in 2014 by the Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

And early this year, she added another milestone to her rich CV: she got elected as President of the Livingstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Namakau (right) with other fellows in Wisconsin

In that election, she beat two male contenders and pushed herself into the annals of history as the first female President of the chamber.

But this is not all, Namaku dreams big.

On 12th May while we were at the US Embassy in Lusaka for a briefing, she told the US Ambassador Eric Shultz that her eyes were set on the republican presidency.

"Am Namakau Muyangana Siyanga........ i plan to stand a President of Zambia. One of my goals during my presidency will be to increase women participation in decision making, I will ensure women are empowered to run businesses," said Namakau as all fellows clapped for her.

She is so serious with her presidential ambitions that she has since devised a plan which will see her run for Member of Parliament in Livingstone before she can aspire for State House.

"During the adoptions in May, i was approached by two major political parties to stand ni Livingstone but i refused. My time will come and when it does, people will see that i mean business."

They say everyone has a right to dream, but its only courageous people like Namakau who can turn those dreams into reality.

Her idea is great and she needs everyone's support if she is to one day be referred to as 'Her Excellency The Republican President.'


  1. These are the women we need and I am very convince this lady will make it one day.

  2. These are the women we need and I am very convince this lady will make it one day.