Last year, a 14-year-old Zimbabwean whizkid, Taida Mapara, made headlines after scoring 15 points in the June ZIMSEC examinations and enrolling for a medicine degree at Malawi Medical School. Dandaro Online interviewed Taida who was a student at Hillbright Science College. Below are excerpts from the interview.
Dandaro: Who is Taida and where does she live?
Taida is a girl who was able to achieve great things that not many people can, by the grace of God. She grew up in Harare, Zimbabwe and moved to Ghana in 2016. She is currently staying in Zimbabwe.
Dandaro: You came into prominence towards last year when you were featured in the press as a 14-year old, child prodigy who passed her A Levels and had been accepted by a university to study medicine. Was this always your goal?
Taida: It was my goal to get into medical school, I have always wanted to become a doctor. It wasn’t my goal to become well known, I was surprised when I saw my name trending.
Dandaro: Have you actually started your degree programme? If so, where are you studying and how are you finding your course?
Taida: Because of the pandemic I haven’t started. I am hoping to start in February 2021 (next month).
Dandaro: Tai, you are so young, most kids your age are still grappling with the basics of the Periodic Table, Pythagoras Theorem, etc. How are you able to relate to your age mates given that you are so far ahead, academically?
Taida: Even though I am ahead academically, we share similar interests and learn from each other in different aspects of life. There is more to life than academics. Academically, I may be ahead, but when it comes to other things, we are the same.
Dandaro: Friends, do you have any given that you are so busy 😊? If so, are most of your friends within your age group or older mates from uni?
Taida: Like most people, I am busy. I still need to study. I know medicine is not an easy programme. The road will be bumpy, so I need to work hard. I have friends from different age groups, some older than me, some the same age and others younger than me. I get to learn from my older friends, and I get to be an example to my younger friends.
Dandaro: What do you do for fun?
Taida: For fun, I like to dance with my friends, listen to music and draw.
Dandaro: We learnt from last year’s press release that you have younger siblings who happen to be twins. What’s your relationship like with them, do they understand the depths of your achievements?
Taida: My siblings see me for who I am. To them I am their older sister no matter what.
Dandaro: We understand that you want to be a cardiologist. What is it that draws you to this particular field and how do you think you will be able to make a difference?
Taida: Watching doctors on TV motivated me. Whenever I saw them, I would always say to myself, “I want to be like them”. Cardiology is the speciality that interests me the most. Who knows, this may change with time but I love it!
Dandaro: Do you intend to work in Zimbabwe or do you prefer taking your talents elsewhere in the future?
Taida: I intend to work in Zimbabwe because it is my home and I would love to make it a better country.
Dandaro: You lived in Ghana for a couple of years. What can you tell us about your experience there?
Taida: Ghana is a beautiful country with a lot of culture. The people there are very kind and loving. The food is amazing too.
Dandaro: Is the Ghanaian academic curricula similar to ours? Any improvements we can make on our side based on your experience there?
Taida: They are similar, I didn’t have a hard time adapting during my stay there.
Dandaro: Going back to the socialising topic. Not trying to scare you 😊 but there is a fear that child geniuses risk missing basic things like rhaka-rhaka, nhodo, discos, etc. Is this something that bothers you?
Taida: Not really because to my family and friends, I am no different to children my age, I take part in a lot of activities with them.
Dandaro: How have your parents been helping you navigate your amazing journey?
Taida: They are always by my side guiding me and helping me. They give me advice and motivate me. I wouldn’t have made it this far without them.
Dandaro: Who is your hero and why?
Taida: My parents are my heroes because they motivate me. I want to be like them when I grow up. They are very loving and caring people. They are very kind and people love being around them. They are great role models.
Dandaro: How did you grow the interest to exert yourself in academics, do you think it’s your natural aptitude or were there other factors?
Taida: I just really like stationery and writing notes, so studying was fun for me. I did have hard times here and there but I stayed strong and never gave up.
Dandaro: In the event that Taida completes her studies, what’s next and what are her long-term objectives?
Taida: I want to work, own a house and a car. I want to also further my studies, and maybe do some travelling.
Dandaro: Do you have any ideas or words of encouragement to share with young people out there?
Taida: Never give up, failure is the stepping stone to success.
Dandaro: Tell us one thing you really like about Zimbabwe.
Taida: I love the languages. Although I cannot speak all of them I love hearing people speak in their different languages and dialects.
Dandaro: What is your favourite traditional dish?
Taida: Rice rinedovi, muriwo nenyama
Dandaro: Any parting words?
Taida: Hope I have motivated people out there to work hard and make their dreams a reality.
More: Dandro Online