In October 2021, Nayombe Martha Muliyunda set the foundations for the Zambia branch of FairFight, marking our third country of operation and sixth programme overall. While a great success for the whole FairFight family, this new programme is also a special personal achievement for Martha.
Born and raised in Lusaka, Martha is a mother of four, the highest-ranked (4th dan) female karate instructor, and the first female dojo owner in Zambia. Her story not only encompasses adversity, perseverance, and trailblazing, but most importantly, it also emulates the hope that we wish to give to the girls in our projects.
What motivates her?
Martha lost her mother at age 11 and her life was never the same. The privilege that she previously enjoyed was no longer her reality in the high-density area of Lusaka. Martha knew she “had to fight [her] way out of the situation”. At age 16, her friend introduced her to karate, which she immediately found released her anger and frustration about her mother’s passing. When she earned her first black belt, Martha was 8 months pregnant.
At 19, she had her first baby and was in a teenage marriage. Through the ups and downs of her personal life, Martha always gravitated back towards sport and karate. Karate empowered her, gave her patience and peace, and pushed her to see things from a different perspective. Martha’s personal story of overcoming adversity drives her to share her passion for karate and sport with other people, especially young girls.
What is it like to be a female in this field of work?
Martha is a trailblazer for women in many different areas. Her earlier work in marketing and business taught her to block out the prejudice against her and keep persevering.
In her experience, businessmen are often afraid of what women can do and often relegate them to the kitchen. Two years ago, Martha was the host on Capital One radio reporting on football. The comments and backlash she endured from this confirmed that women are still seen as women first, and not for their actual abilities or passions. Considering the challenging climate in her professional life, Martha stands by the importance of taking up space and standing up for herself and other women.
What are her ambitions and plans for this programme?
Martha dedicates her work to giving every girl a fair chance. She is up for the challenge of fighting for equal opportunity, believing that her perseverance can and will make a difference. She recognises the passion and aspiration of the girls she works with, and wants to help give those girls the means to reach their goals.
Martha aims to be an example for girls to overcome hardship, setbacks, and resistance. She wants to give them hope by “showing them that there’s a different world out there if they excel and put their minds to it”. The goal of the FairFight project is to instil hope and self-discipline in these girls and help them achieve their goals, so that they are in a good place to later give back to their community. Humility, generosity, and courage are the pillars of Martha’s practice. Simply put, she wants to give girls hope and a fighting chance.
What are her personal goals?
Aside from helping girls in Lusaka, Martha dedicates a lot of time to her own karate practice. Her karate idol, Sandra Sánchez, inspires her to keep striving for a top fitness level. This is also a way for Martha to show that she is not just a role model who has gone through experiences in the past – instead, she is a living example of strength who continues to strive for better and overcome adversity. Another personal goal Martha has set is to compete internationally.