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FORMER primary school teacher and at present SABC senior producer of current affairs Sophie Ndimande has spent almost half her life empowering women and preserving Ndebeleculture.
For the past 25 years the 53-year-old Ikwekwezi FM producer-cum-presenter has used the medium to accelerate her crusade.
Her biggest fear is that indigenous languages, particularly her home language IsiNdebele, will become extinct.
Ndimande, of Mamelodi in Pretoria, shot to prominence when she started presenting women empowerment programmes Thandazani Bomma (Pray Women) and Ngezabomma (Women Issues) in 1985.
"These shows made me aware of the challenges women face. I interacted with women from all walks of life. This was therapeutic for me because I could relate to many of the challenges. I prayed with my listeners, instilled hope in them and stressed the importance of off-loading our burdens to God," she says.
Ndimande's diligence and dedication impressed the then Radio Ndebele management and she was the first woman to be appointed as permanent newsreader and translator in 1991. She handed over the women empowerment baton to Nodathile Skhosana.
Because of her deep love for teaching Ndimande adapted well and kept listeners up to date with news and current affairs.
In 1995 Ndimande was appointed senior current affairs producer. She used this platform to highlight the plight of women in rural areas.
"Expected to keep families intact while nurturing the young ones, women in rural areas are at the receiving end of poor service delivery because they have to ensure that there is water and firewood in their homes. I always strive to ensure that these basic civic service challenges are highlighted as they affect the most vulnerable sector of our society," says Ndimande.
Born on a farm in Middelburg in Mpumalanga, the divorced mother of four graduated with a teacher's certificate from the now-defunct Bochabelo Training College in 1976 and started teaching at Mthunzini Primary School in Mamelodi the following year.
After teaching for eight years Ndimande moved to radio. As well as hosting programmes to empower women, she presented children's shows.
Ndimande is motivated by any individual who nourishes democracy, who protects Africa's rich indigenous cultures and women who respect themselves.