Eluby Banda, the Group Village Headwoman (GVH) of Simphasi leads her community without fear or favour. When she is dressed in her chief attire, no one dares to take her for granted because she means serious business. “During my early years of my chieftaincy, my fellow women and friends used to underrate me because they still had that memory of seeing me as a mere village woman. I noticed it and informed my counsellors to warn them that if they continue disrespecting me they will be fined either two chickens or a goat each,” explained the 45 year old mother of six.
I am happy that more than five years later, I have seen more students attending classes, especially girls finishing secondary school and going further to colleges, as well as more women becoming economically independent through Village Savings and Loan Association.
Eluby Banda was elected to become GVH Simphasi in 2009 by family members when her late uncle passed on. “Immediately after the remains of my late uncle arrived home, the clan members proposed and approved my name as a successor,” she recalls. It is customary that when a chief dies, one of the older nieces or nephews of the deceased takes over. But if the heir to the throne is not seen as the right person for the role, then the next in line will be offered the leadership – and this was the case of Eluby. “I am the youngest of the surviving three children. I am happy that all the elders agreed that I should lead them, otherwise, my elder sister and brother were the possible successors,” she explains proudly.
When Eluby ascended to the throne, her community had little access to clean water with only one borehole available to serve more than 100 households. Furthermore, many students dropped out before completing school, or in other cases their parents simply never sent them to learn.
“I am very thankful to Join My Village. The program came at a time when my village had poor life and education standards; we didn’t have safe drinking water, there were many cases of early marriages, and an increase in the number of students loitering around the village during school time. I am happy that more than five years later, I have seen more students attending classes, especially girls finishing secondary school and going further to colleges, as well as more women becoming economically independent through Village Savings and Loan Association” she says. Eluby’s accomplishments don’t end there: she also oversees 12 other village heads under her territory and has successfully lobbied for the drilling of a second borehole in her community, and her goal is two acquire two additional boreholes to meet demand in the area.
According to Eluby, who also sits on the counsel of Traditional Authority Santhe, establishment of by-laws in her community to punish those who don’t send their children to school during school time has helped encourage parents to ensure their children are educated. The chief, who has a four member counsel that include two women and two men also gives praise to the Join My Village scholarship program which has helped more than 10 girls in her area finish secondary school. One student, Alice Anderson, is even continuing her studies by working towards a professional career.
Eluby strongly believes that her village will continue to succeed and that even more children will be educated. She promises to maintain dignity and instil the same into her people.