As a young Zimbabwean woman, I have spent most of my life around my own kind. I have come across some who are proud of their heritage and some who despise it. This is due to what we are known for all over the world, what our country has been deemed to stand for. We are known for corruption, poverty and instability. It breaks my heart that these are the only things about 90% of the world know about Zimbabwe. The world does not look at our educational system being one of the highest in Africa, our beautiful wildlife resorts or how we are hardworking people who have not given up on our country even after the 2008 inflation. We have tried and we will keep trying to make it a better place, those in Zimbabwe and those who are abroad included.
I also believe we (Zimbabweans) are not only changing our country but the world at large. We are bringing our ideas and experiences to the world and impacting millions of lives. I have read about many Zimbabwean men and women like me who have thrived to bring change. I am amazed at what these people have archived because I had also come to believe nothing good came out of Zimbabwe, including myself.
So, in today’s post, I will be focusing on the Zimbabwean men and women, known and unknown who have brought change and who are still changing the world. These have encouraged me to be proud of where I come from and not to give up regardless of how the world sees us, because that does not define us. HAPPY READING and HAPPY WATCHING (this post is backed up by a lot of videos.)
P.S: The list is in no particular order.
Morgan Richard Tsvangirai was a Zimbabwean politician who was the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe from 2009-2013. He was President of the Movement of Democratic Change- Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and a key figure in the opposition of Robert Mugabe. In 2002, Morgan Tsvangirai was the MDC candidate in the 2002 presidential elections, losing to Robert Mugabe. He ran for the 2008 presidential elections again as the MDC-T candidate, taking 47.8% of the vote according to official results, placing him ahead of Robert Mugabe who had 43.2%. A re-run was requested and Morgan Tsvangirai ended up losing to Zanu PF. He initially planned on running again against Robert Mugabe but he withdrew, arguing the elections would not be free and fair due to the widespread violence and his intimidation of the government which led to the death of 200 people.
He was arrested after the 2000 elections and he was charged with treason, a charge which was later dismissed. In 2003, he was arrested shortly after giving a press conference being alleged he had incited violence.2004, he was acquitted of treason for an illegal plot to assassinate the then President in the run-up to the 2002 elections. On 11 March 2007 a day after his 55th birthday, Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested on his way to a prayer rally in Highfields. He was heavily tortured by police and he had deep gashes on his head and a badly swollen eye. He was later released after suffering a skull fracture and had internal bleeding. 2007, the police stormed the MDC-T headquarters and arrested him, lifting a ban on political activities and implemented immediate reforms. After being pressurised by the support Morgan Tsvangirai was getting from other countries, Robert Mugabe agreed to a coalition within the Zimbabwean government. This led to Morgan Tsvangirai being appointed the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe in 2009, a position which had been abolished in 1987 after the constitution had been amended. However, the position was again dissolved in 2013.
In 2010, Morgan Tsvangirai was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, but he missed it by a whisker when it was awarded to Barack Obama, the former President of America.
Fadzayi Mahere is a prominent Zimbabwean lawyer and politician. She obtained a Bachelor’s of a Law Honours degree in 2008 and in 2010, she enrolled at the University of Cambridge for a Masters of Law, International Criminal Law and International Commercial Litigation, before graduating in 2011. She was part of the Lead Counsel (Zimbabwe) team that won the All Africa International Humanitarian Law Moot Court Competition in Arusha, Tanzania.
In June of 2016, Advocate Mahere participated in the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe public inquisition on the printing and introduction of additional bond notes in 2016. She cited that bond notes were unconstitutional as it goes against Chapter 17 of the Constitution that speaks on public finance. She also took part in the #thisflagmovement, where she began to motivate and mobilise people using social media channels such as Facebook Live discussions and Twitter to rise against the existing government. In 2017 she announced her bid to represent Mt Pleasant (her home town) in the 2018 elections as an independent candidate, but she was arrested in the same year, after organising a soccer tournament in her constituency and was charged under the Public Order and Security Act.
She was later released and she is still fighting and representing the youth of Zimbabwe, fervently and tirelessly.
Dixon Chibanda is a Zimbabwean psychiatrist who started the Friendship Bench in one of Harare’s township Mbare in 2007 and conceptualised the first Friendship Bench intervention that has now been refined and adapted considerably.
He has been involved in mental health research for many years. Dixon is a key player in bringing the various stakeholders from local health authorities, health professional, national and international researches and donors together to form successful collaborations. In his role as PI, he has led the Friendship Bench team through the rigorous exercise of the randomised control trial (RCT) which was able to deliver evidence for the intervention’s effectiveness. He is currently leading the team as they scale-up the Friendship Bench to over 60 primary health care clinics in the country.
Betty Makoni is a Zimbabwe gender activist, CNN Hero, Speaker, Philanthropist, Mentor and Social Critic who in 1999 founded the Girl Child Network, a charity which supports Zimbabwe’s young sex abuse victims. After being raped at a young age and seeing her mother being murdered, she was familiar with the feelings of powerlessness, rage and anger from an early age. As she grew up, she pledged to become a different kind of adult from those she had to know. Enrolled in at an all-girls school on work for a free scholarship, she excelled in her studies that she ended up being on an exchange program to the US. Whilst in the US,she began to notice how women in the US voiced their opinions and protested, she became very concerned about the silence of women in Zimbabwe over the same issues.
Upon returning and becoming a teacher, she was alarmed by the high rate of girl dropping out of school. This led to the organisation of the support group- Girl Child Network. The organisation has saved over 35 000 girls and provided mentoring to at least 60 000 girls around Zimbabwe. She earned 2 degrees at the University of Zimbabwe and has been awarded numerous national and international awards.
She permanently began volunteering in 2000 for the Girl Child Network. In 2003 the Women’s World Summit awarded her the Prize for Women’s Creativity in the Rural Areas. 2007, Betty Makoni won the World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child and in 2008, Amnesty International awarded her its Ginetta Sagan Award for her work with the GCN.
The GCN has grown, it has so many branches all over the world, including countries like Sierra Leone, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and the USA to name a few. She has over 44 global awards and is undoubtedly the most awarded African woman in the world, who has been recognised by Global Nobel Prize winners like Nelson Mandela.
Strive Masiyiwa is a Zimbabwean entrepreneur and philanthropist, who is the founder and executive chairman of diversified international Telecommunications, Media and Technology group Uganda and the USA to name a few. He has won numerous accolades and gained international recognition for his business expertise and philanthropy. He is considered one of Africa’s most generous humanitarian. He has used his own family fortune to build one of the largest support programs for educating orphans in Africa. He has educated and supported more than 40 000 children worldwide and he has also been involved in a diverse range of health issues including campaigns against HIV/AIDS, cervical cancer, malnutrition and EBOLA. He is a devoted Christian and has said his faith is His pillar of strength.
In 1998, the World Junior Chamber of Commerce named him one of the “10 most outstanding young leaders of the world”, an accolade previous bestowed to John Kennedy.2003, he was named one of the most influential business leaders in the world by CNN Time magazine. In 2012, the former President of the United States, Barack Obama invited him and four other business leaders of attending the 38th G8 summit at Camp David, addressing them on strategies on food production and poverty in Africa. Fortune Magazine named him one of the 50 most influential business leaders in the world in 2014. 2015, Forbes Magazine named him in the 10 Most Powerful Men in Africa list and the International Rescue Committee awarded Strive Masiyiwa the Freedom Award, an award which is given annually to individuals who make extraordinary contributions toward supporting refugees and championing the causes of liberty, individual freedom and dignity. In 2017 Fortune Magazine named him number 33 in the World’s Greatest leaders list, along with Elon Musk and LeBron James.
Tsitsi Masiyiwa is Zimbabwean philanthropist and social entrepreneur who has devoted much of her life to empowering the lives of young people through education and technology. She started working in philanthropy in the early 1990s through the work of her husband. During that time, the country was gripped by the HIV/AIDS pandemic and many families lost breadwinners.
She founded Higherlife Foundation together with her husband, a philanthropic organisation with a mission to provide a platform for people to fulfil their God-given purposes. She said when they went broke after using the government, she made a deal with God, that if they won the case he would help as many poor people as she could as long as she lived. She realised to really understand the plight of orphaned children, she needed to spend time going where they were, eating what they ate, sleeping where they slept and listening to their stories.
Whilst staying at children’s homes, she discovered that most of the children in homes were abandoned at very young ages, never had visitors, had the bare minimum to eat and hardly had meat with their meals. They spent most of their time doing household chores and agricultural tasks, missing out on the opportunity of being children. This led to her making it possible for more orphans to go to school and University. Her organisation offered scholarship and once a child became a beneficiary, they stopped being orphans and became History Makers. This new name was intended to help in transforming their mindsets to become young responsible leaders with global mindsets.
Her foundation has branches in countries including Lesotho, Burundi and Swaziland. A $6.4 million investment was made to sponsor 40 international scholarships at Morehouse and Spelman College in Atlanta, USA. An international scholarship fund for 30 scholarship is launched every year to academically gifted children to Waterford Kamhlaba in Swaziland to position them for the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship in the USA. She has also made it possible for 30 learning hubs, in partnership with rural and urban schools, equipped with state of the art computers and furniture.
In 2016, she was awarded the African Woman of the year in health and education award.
David Zinyama is a Zimbabwean freelance art director and consultant, graphic designer and visual artist. He graduated with a first class degree in Graphics Designing in 2015. He is famous for photoshop images featuring himself and various celebrities such as Rihanna, Beyoncè and Kim Kardashian to name a few. He has also worked with some of the biggest brands in the world including NHS(UK), BBC, ITV, Unicef, MOBO Awards and more.
He has also been known for motivating people and he uses social media to encourage people to focus on their goals and not to waste time on unproductive things which do not bring food to the table. When asked if he had always wanted to be a graphics designer, David said that he was not always artistic but it was something he later on discovered in life. He stated that he used to do music and there was a time when he needed his CD covers to be designed, at the time he did not know anyone who could do such a task so he acquired Photoshop and from there, his talent grew.
In 2013, he received the Young Achievement Award.2014, he was awarded the Social Media Contributor of the year. In 2015, he received the Best Graphics Design Young Achievers Technology Award and the YCN Student Award. In 2016 he received the African Pride Awards Entrepreneur /Business of the Year and in 2017, the Zim Achievers Awards Entrepreneur of the Year. He was named as Hip Hop’s New King of Photoshop by Complex Magazine.
Rumbi Katedza is a Zimbabwean filmmaker, director and screenwriter. She worked as a radio presenter/producer for Radio 3 Zimbabwe and she used to write articles which were published in numerous magazines including Vertigo, AV Special and Hype! Her fictional writing has been published in Women Writing Zimbabwe, the BTA/Anglo-Platinum Winners Collection and Illuminations. She was the distributing Manager at Media for Development Trust, responsible for a catalogue of over 200 films and later, she became Director of Zimbabwe International Film Festival, before going out on her own as a producer and director of narrative and documentary content through her company, Mai Jai Films.
In addition to co-producing and line producing projects, Mai Jai Films runs Postcards from Zimbabwe, a children’s audio-visual and life-skills training project. It also runs ZimbabweFilm.com, a Zimbabwean film promotion website. She has directed a number of music videos for some of Zimbabwe’s top artists. Her film credits include Danai (2002) which got her nominated for Best Director at the National Arts Merit Awards, and the award-winning film Asylum(2007), Tariro (2008) and Big house, Small House. Her full-length feature film Playing Warriors was released in 2011.
Nkosana Mafico is a Zimbabwean-Australian based guest speaker, motivational and inspirational speaker and a changemaker who is passionate about advancing humanity through business. He represented Australia at the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance Summit in 2014, and at Global Student Entrepreneur Awards in 2015. A World Economic Forum Global Shaper, Nkosana currently serves as the Founder and Chief of CYALA (Council for Young African Living Abroad).
In 2014, at just 19 years old he was headhunted and became CEO of an English pronunciation software company. He went on to successfully lead the company through an investment round with Telstra and a 6-week business development trip to Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, China. He was also awarded the Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Budding Entrepreneur grant (1 and 2).2015 he was named Australian National Champion and a Global Finalist at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards in the USA and he became the World Economic Forum Global Shaper in 2016. In the same year, Nkosana and his tribe hosted Australia’s first ever national African youth conference which brought together 120 delegates and raised sponsorship in excess of $15 000. He was recently elected as the leader of the Brisbane, Global Hub last year.
Danai Jekesai Gurira is a Zimbabwean-American actress and playwright, best known for her role as Michonne on the Walking Dead, as the writer of the Tony Award-winning play Eclipse and an Okoye on the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchises Black Panther and Infinity War. Danai said she began writing plays in an effort to better utilise her strength as an actor, and to tell stories that convey ideas about strong women with whom she identified. As a playwright, she has been commissioned by Yale Repertory Theatre, Centre Theatre Group, Playwrights Horizon and the Royal Court.
In 2008 she appeared at the Global Green Sustainable Design Award to read a letter written by a New Orleans native displaced by Hurricane Katrina. In 2011, she co-founded Almasi Art Inc., an organisation dedicated to continuing arts education in Zimbabwe and she currently serves as the Executive Artistic Producer.2015 she signed an open letter begun by the ONE Campaign. The letter was addressed to Angela Merkel and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, urging them to focus on women as they serve as head of the G7 in Germany and the AU in South Africa.2016, she founded a non-profit organisation Love Our Girls, which aim to highlight the issues and challenges that especially affect women throughout the world. In the same year, she partnered with Johnson & Johnson o fight against HIV/AIDS.
Please feel free to mentions others who have inspired you, these are some of the few who have impacted my life immensely and inspired me to press towards the unthinkable and impossible.