Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
Media personality, Patience “Pat” Phiri has done some bold things over the years that have gotten her attention, good or bad, but in essence, she is an introvert who has been forced to be an extrovert.
Even when she spoke to Saturday Leisure this week, the former Skyz Metro FM radio personality who has had stints on TV would respond with laughs (to hide her nerves) and giggles (to mask her shyness), giving a warm aura about her personality, easy going light-hearted and fun to speak with.
She is the last born in a family of five and a mother of one. Born at Hwange Colliery Hospital in 1981, her late parents were both from Filabusi under Chief Maduna.
Her mother was her pillar and when she died 14 years ago, Pat said she was devastated.
“When my mother died I was 25, it was the hardest time of my life. It was also a time that made me realise that I was strong. And she had raised me and groomed me to be a good woman,” said Pat.
She went on to say that her mother was the perfect role model.
“I grew up in awe of my mother she was a woman who was way ahead of her time. I think looking back at her life now, she lived her life knowing that every moment mattered. She was the vice chairperson of Zim Rights until her death in 2006. She made a change in life. She taught me to live in the moment and enjoy it always,” said Pat.
The same motherly love that her mother left her with, Pat is imparting to her son, whom she describes as her air.
“My son is amazing and he’s the air I breathe. Everyone who knows me knows that my son is my everything. When I look at him, I say there must be a God that he would favour me that much to give me that boy, it’s amazing. Also, to watch him be the man that he’s growing into is an honour that I can call him mine,” said Pat.
The 39-year-old Pat Phiri has lived in the Bulawayo CBD all her life. She learnt at Coghlan Primary School, Mtshabezi High School and Northlea High School, before enrolling to learn business administration at Bulawayo Polytechnic College.
This is a woman who has presented various shows on various platforms, chief among them, Queening with the Empress on Facebook. Before this, she once presented a ZBC production called the Chit Chat Show with Nyasha Mtamangira and Samantha Tshuma. On Skyz Metro FM, she hosted the hangout then became the radio station’s social media manager. She has also dabbled in theatre where she featured on a production called Naked Girls.
Interestingly, the plus size personality, has had modelling stints where she featured in Jah Prayzah’s music video for Chikomo.
All these jobs, she said, have taught her great people skills.
A firm believer in the power of social media, Pat once hosted a Twitter party, something that was hip and interesting to those who participated nearly five years ago.
Describing herself as proudly African, Zimbabwean and Bulawayoan, Pat Phiri says these three things embody her.
“I’m proudly African, Zimbabwean and Bulawayoan. I love my country and city and I try to learn as much as I can about where and who came before me, something that has made me fall in love with our culture, food, music and history,” said Pat.
The personality who has been consistent with her doek look coupled with beads of sorts said her wardrobe reflects her African nature and culture. Bright colours such as red, pink and green are her favourite.
“Even my dressing tells that story that I’m not shy to be African, to be known that I cover my head as a sign of respect to my people and those around me. Also, to show that I respect the women that have gone before me and I want to honour them with iqhiye (head wrap) for a woman,” said Pat.
The common theme in the conversation with Pat is that she champions women and their rights. This according to her, is what drives her.
“I pride myself that in a world that is always telling us as African women that we aren’t beautiful, great or not enough, when you look back in history, you’ll find that African women have a sense of royalty and beauty about them.
“I want to give young brown girls a voice and to remind them how beautiful they are and how in charge they are of their lives. They can direct how their lives go and they shouldn’t listen to nobody that tells them that they aren’t worthy, qualified or anything.
“My drive is to have women heard and take up their space in the sun. If there’s no space, they should open their arms and create their own space and be heard in the world. They must just stand up and lift each other.”
Although championing women, Pat said she has had nasty experiences with trolls on social media who were women. In 2016, she posed for a semi-nude photoshoot as a way to celebrate her birthday, but unfortunately, there were scathing insults from women that body-shamed her as soon as the racy pictures hit social media.
“Sadly, the backslash I got was from other women. They had a lot to say about my body weight, my age and how I wasn’t flawless. It was hurtful but it was also a learning curve that at times, people tend to project their own insecurities on other people.
“So it was not me that they were coming at, it was why I was so confident to do that (post semi-nude pictures) knowing that it was so flawed. It was them not about me,” she said.
As a person who champions body positivity, Pat, when she posted the images, wanted women to embrace and be proud of their bodily flaws and accept that no one is perfect.
“When I did the first pictures, it was to celebrate my birthday as I was turning 35. It was to celebrate me and my journey in body positivity and finally, get to a place where I could say ‘it’s been a long walk, but I love me and this is who I am’.
“Also, I wanted to dispel that all women are skinny, they don’t have stretch marks or cellulite. It was to show that I’m confident with my body. I’ve got stretch marks, cellulite and my skin has like 6 000 patches of brown, I’m not flawless but I’m still beautiful,” explained Pat.
Despite the negative comments she received back then, she said people should expect another similar photo shoot when she turns 40 next year.
“I plan to do it again for my 40th birthday. I want to do a beautiful spread of me. I won’t respond to the negativity. I won’t give it the time of the day as I’ll just continue celebrating my journey of my body,” she said.
But, in her very nature, Pat says she is a person who prefers to keep to herself, take care of her plants and sit at home reading a book.
“I’m a person who’s strangely an extroverted introvert. The nature of my work forces me to be around people and constantly communicate with people. I enjoy listening to people’s stories.
“Strangely enough is when all that is done, I feel that the real me is the person that’ll be in my home being in my solitude reading, playing music, cooking which I enjoy and taking care of my plants. I enjoy entertaining people from time to time as well,” said Pat, who mentioned that she has six tattoos and is planning to have four more inked on her body.
Me time for her gives her time to reflect, relax, rethink and re-energise, which is very important for her.
There will be more of Pat as she says she will only rest when a time where she will not need to introduce herself to people comes and she lives on a farm with her cats, dogs while rearing goats and cows.