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Esau — Unsung broadcasting heroine

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Veteran broadcaster, advertiser, teacher, musician, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother Jane Grace Esau (JGE) (78, still has that confident, sweet voice which graced airwaves on the then Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation (RBC) Radio 1 in the 1960s.

Esau is one unsung heroine in broadcasting whose fame faded as soon as she left ZBC. Our correspondent Beaullah T Mbirimi (BTM) had an interview with Esau (JGE) at the latter’s Marlborough house. Below are the excerpts:

BTM: What should I call you during this interview, madam?

JGE: My friends call me Gogo Jane and I am comfortable with that. You are welcome to call me Gogo Jane.

BTM: Thanks Gogo Jane, please give us an overview of who Jane Grace Esau is.

JGE: I started as a teacher for 18 years and one teacher whom I had worked with in Marondera and was then assistant broadcaster at Audio Visual Services (AVS), informed me of an opening for the post he was resigning from at AVS. Interviews were conducted with nine other candidates and I got the job.

BTM : Why did you leave teaching?

JGE : I did not leave teaching because it was bad, but doing radio lessons was teaching, in a way.

BTM : So did people start to know your voice during radio lessons?

JGE: No, no, no. Radio lessons were a fuel to the fire which had already started during commercials with Sales House. Broadcasting houses called me for different commercials and programmes like In the Kitchen with Jane, Crystal Sweets — the Sweet Life, Dairiboard Show and many others. By the way, I was once in the police force.

BTM: Tell me more, Gogo Jane.

JGE : I was trained for six months and worked as a qualified policewoman. I graduated at Chitungwiza Police Station and our group was the one which opened Chitungwiza Police Station. For the love of my country, I used to double at ZBC and then report for duty at Southerton Police Station and then to Marlborough Police when I moved residence from Southerton to Marlborough. I resigned voluntarily after many years because I felt it was too much on my plate.

BTM: I notice your voice has not changed at all. What’s your secret, Gogo Jane?

JGE: It’s a gift from God. Sheer luck if I may say so. I haven’t done anything to keep it. Young men used to ask for dates while I was still at ZBC, but got disappointed when they saw the person behind the voice.

BTM: May I just take you back a bit and ask you to give us a brief history of yourself, from birth to date.

JGE : I was born Jana Grace Esau on June 25 1933
in Penhalonga, to a Manyika mother and a Malawian father. I am the first-born in a family of nine; seven girls and two boys (one is late) I did my education at Old Umtali Mission, Hartzell Upper Primary, Hartzell Secondary School. I was assisted by missionaries till I went to train as a teacher at Morgenster Mission.

When I qualified as a teacher I went into the field first at Bonda Mission in 1955, St Matthias Primary School at Mutasa from 1956 to 1957, Marandellas Undenominational School, 1958 to 1962 and finally Shingirayi Primary School in Mbare (then Harare) in 1962. It was at Shingirayi School that I discovered broadcasting through radio lessons.

BTM: Tell me about your family.

JGE : I have four sons (one is late) and one daughter, 22 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren. I stay with five grandchildren whose mother passed away and the father is overseas and one niece. My eldest great-grandchild is in Form 4

BTM: Finally, any word to upcoming and potential broadcasters?

JGE : Please get proper training and attend workshops and refresher courses because your job involves talking to people.

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