Makanaka regrets getting married too early and being a mother of 2 at the age of 17

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They say experience is the best teacher.

This adage aptly reflects on former television presenter Makanaka Wakatama's recent move to form a trust which is aimed at advocating for rights of young girls that are forced into early marriages.

Makanaka's great potential as a gifted television presenter crumbled when she was 16 years old after getting married to businessman Obvious Sambadzi. The marriage collapsed after a few years.

The former Star Kidz presenter admits the early marriage was not rosy and she would not want to see other girls fall into the same trap.
She soldiered on under harsh circumstances as a teenage mother but what she went through inspired her to form Makanaka Trust to fight early and forced marriages.

"I should say the Trust is inspired by my personal life, what I went through as a teenage mother, getting married early and having two children at the age of 17. It was not easy even after the marriage to pick up my life and move on," she said.

The Trust targets girls from different backgrounds in urban and rural communities to inform them more about their rights.

"Indeed, we are working on advocating for children and young women's rights. We have room for vulnerable children as well. Our main area of concern is putting a stop to child marriages."

Makanaka said she had been strong after her marriage to Sambadzi failed and she would want to motivate young girls from different backgrounds.
"What I then said to myself is that if I have been strong and had been able to move on, what about those girls who are in the same situation and from different backgrounds? We want to reach out to remote rural areas because that is where issues of child marriages are going on.

"That is sometimes attributed to traditions and cultures so we intend to reach out everywhere we can . We have seen that those who are beyond are not being reached (with information on early marriages). We will be giving the message to those in rural and urban centres and teaching them about their rights," said the former teenage sensation.

She added that she would engage other stakeholders in the advocacy.
"We will go to urban and rural schools and let them know they have the right to say ‘no' to early marriages. We will be engaging other stakeholders because a lot of work is being done on the issue but the bigger the crowd, the more the noise."

Makanaka rose to fame with Tinevimbo Chimbetete as Star Kidz presenters. The programme was aired on Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.
She was a child every parent would admire owing to her cute face and talent which became the talk of the town.

At 16 and while in Form 3 at Dominican Convent High School in Harare, she got married to Sambadzi who claimed he had been instructed in a dream to take her as his wife.

Sambadzi was slammed for taking advantage of the minor and he tried to justify his move by opening a boutique for his teenage wife.
The marriage was a thorny issue in the media as Makanaka's mother blessed it and the former presenter seemed to be blinkered by apparent immediate wealth and she retreated to her shell.

However, all hopes faded when the marriage failed to work and Makanaka was left vulnerable. She has apparently learnt from her mistakes and would want to assist young girls through Makanaka Trust.


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