Created in 2018, Kumba Africa is a digital marketplace where holidaymakers can plan all the logistics for their next trip. Mwana Wevhu talks to its founder, Tapiwa Ndlovu, to find out more:
The Zimbabwe Economic Youth Foundation (ZEYF) was founded in July 2018. Mwana Wevhu talks to one of its cofounders, Chido Dzinotyiwei, about the organisation’s vision and why youth involvement in Zimbabwe’s economy is so important.
This is the first profile in a series on young Zimbabwean entrepreneurs venturing into new industries.
Entrepreneurship is a buzzword in Zimbabwe. Calls for young people to get involved in business and start their own ventures have come from politicians, newspapers and parents. Being your own boss sounds appealing, and some of the country’s biggest business success stories have come from individuals who have decided to step out of the conventional and start their own enterprise. Strive Masiyiwa. Simbarashe Mhuriro. Divine Ndhlukula. And despite what you may think of him, yes even Philip Chiyangwa.
“It’s a certain lifestyle that I’ve always wanted.”
Tinashe Jani is one of the people driven to start his own business. It’s a world that’s familiar to him. After all, his parents were entrepreneurs. “They (his parents) run their own businesses. Sometimes they switch from selling wax to selling ice. I’ve seen businesses start, businesses that paid my school fees.”
Even though his parents provided for him, they also made sure that he worked for some of the extra luxuries he wanted. And in 2008, still a high school student, his journey into entrepreneurship began.
Tinashe Marufu is a busy man. Trying to schedule an interview took days of negotiation and rescheduling, but when you’re starting your own sportswear brand, life gets very busy. He was in the middle of organising a braai for Road to Sparta, his fitness brand. Tinashe apologised profusely for having to reschedule the interview again, assuring me that once the event was over, he’d be free to sit for an interview. He ends the message with a personal invitation to the braai, promising that it will be a “lituation.”
We only manage to sit down for our interview two weeks later.
Her room is immaculate, save for the papers and notebooks on the desk. The chime of a dream catcher on the wall is interrupted as Tara closes the window and sits down, cross-legged, on her bed. Some of her drawings are up on the cupboard, with a gemstone chart stuck on her door. Looking at it, I can identify some of the stones on her windowsill. A tinge of citrus lingers in the air, and Tara moves to tidy her bed, which she thinks is less than presentable.
“Art is the only thing I focused on.”
Tara the Artist
Tara Dena Jack is an artist. She always has been. From her days in nursery school, to high school at Hellenic, and now studying towards her Bachelor of Fine Art. That she was meant to be an artist, Tara never doubted that. “It (art) has always been a strong point, since I’m not really academic.” Tara points to the paintings stacked on top of her bookcase as proof. Even when she’s meant to be studying, her fingers itch for pen and paper and Tara draws instead. “Art is an outlet for me.”
As happy as she is with her degree and career path, art wasn’t always her first choice. For a time, music held sway. “I started music when I was 4 or 5, and I started playing the clarinet when I was 14, so in Form Two,” Tara says as she adjusts her legs to get more comfortable. “I also taught myself basic piano, so I can play a few tunes.” When it came down to choose between art and music, the decision boiled down to what gave Tara more creative license. Art it was.
“I can express myself more with art. Art is more liberating.”
What of her art itself? Tara scrolls through her Instagram and flips through her book of doodles as she talks about her style and what she’s created. I notice a lot of pencil work and inking, but not much in the form of paintings. A slight frown on her mouth as she readjusts her seating again and ties up her hair. “With painting, I don’t have a style that I’ve developed. With my pencil work, it’s more detailed. I like stuff like pencil work and pen work, stuff that you can control.” Her pencil work is stunning. Images of skulls and candles flit across her phone screen. Tara’s proud of her pieces, but she admits that her work is dark. “In O Level, I did kitsch, still-life, like ‘pretty pretty girly stuff’. But I find skulls more interesting. You think about a painting of a skull more than just a painting of a flower.”
“I always try incorporate a hidden meaning in my art.”
Tara fiddles with her hairbands as she talks about her plans for the future. She wants to get her art out there for people to see – something she hasn’t been doing. She thinks back to her art teachers in high school and how they’ve shaped her life so far, and continue to play a role in deciding her future. “Most of my role models are my art teachers. They see what I’m capable of, they’re more confident in my abilities than I am.” It was Greg Shaw, her high school art teacher and artist in Harare, who pushed Tara to develop her skills as an artist. It was her O Level art teacher who convinced Tara to study Fine Art at Rhodes University. Their influence has motivated Tara to pay it forward and become an art teacher and artist.
Tara the Zimbabwean
Would she work in Zimbabwe? Tara pauses, and takes a breath before responding. “I’m drawn to political stuff.” She tilts her head in inference. “Political stuff that I wouldn’t be able to do that. And I can’t do kitsch stuff either.” I ask her the question again. She looks up, frowns and responds, “I don’t know.”
To see more of Tara’s work, check out her Instagram.
All the art pieces in this story are property of Tara Dena Jack.
36 years ago, Southern Rhodesia was wiped from existence and Zimbabwe was born. Great pomp and ceremony ensued as the populace celebrated the end of a long guerrilla and the establishment of majority rule. Bob Marley even wrote a song for us, and he came down and performed, free of charge, at the official Independence Day celebrations:
In 2016, things are different. Zimbabweans are scattered across the globe. Many people have left for their studies or employment. There is a generation of people with Zimbabwean heritage who have not set foot in the country. And for a born-free generation, navigating their Zimbabwean identity is a chore in itself. Four such Zimbabweans, all studying at Rhodes University in South Africa, speak of what it means to be Zimbabwean, 36 years after Independence.
“Being Zimbabwean in 2016 comes with many arduous challenges and a lot of hard work in the quest to get opportunity and recognition necessary for the meaningful success in the global village we live in today.
As a young Zimbabwean, I find it hard to break barriers no matter how good I am – barriers that, if broken, will propel my career to dizzy heights. This is largely due to negative political connotations that come with being from Zimbabwe.”
“Being a Zimbabwean youth is tough. Particularly a patriotic youth. You yourself fail to explain where you draw your strong allegiance to the country from.
It’s quite an amazing phenomenon really. I can rave and curse about the situation in Zimbabwe but dare someone else do it. So what does it mean to be a Zimbabwean in 2016, 36 years after independence? It’s a myriad of emotions. Love. Hate. Love. Hate even more.”
“My Zimbabwean identity means being resilient in the face of all adversities and having faith and hope as strong a mustard seed.”
“I like that Zimbabweans, we’re peaceful people. Yeah our country’s messed up, but we’re survivors. It hasn’t broken us. If you’re outside of the country, you know you’re not alone. You’ve got a community of Zimbabweans there with you.”
Zimbabwean Identity, 36 years on
So what does it mean to be a young Zimbabwean in 2016? There isn’t a straightforward answer to that. There’s a constant tug of war in establishing your identity. Inheriting the past, surviving the present, building for the future – often times, it can be suffocating to live such an existence. Nevertheless, for many of the young Zimbabweans out there, their national heritage and identity is a badge they wear with pride.
Simudzai mureza wedu weZimbabwe
Yakazvarwa nomoto wechimurenga;
Neropa zhinji ramagamba
Tiidzivirire kumhandu dzose;
Ngaikomborerwe nyika yeZimbabwe.
Phakamisan iflegi yethu yeZimbabwe
Eyazalwa yimpi yenkululeko;
Legaz’ elinengi lamaqhawe ethu
Silivikele ezithan izonke;
Kalibusisiwe ilizwe leZimbabwe.
The camera has always fascinated Godfrey Tafadzwa Kadzere. Even though he’d studied commerce since high school, photography remained a presence in his mind, an area he’d always wanted to explore, but never got the occasion to do so. That all changed when his aunt got him his first camera – a small BenQ digital camera, a present for his 19th birthday.
“I had a growing desire to capture special moments and cherish them, hold onto them in the form of pictures.”
From the pictures he took with this first camera (a camera he still has to this day), Godfrey’s connection with photography grew. His camera became an extension of him, so much so that people at his university referred to him as the Camera Guy. Seeing Godfrey without a camera of some sort felt almost unnatural, like a tortoise without its shell. The more photos he took, the more photography became a part of his life. “I found myself spending a lot of time carrying my camera everywhere that I would go, then going through each and every one of them, analysing and reflecting on why I took it and looking at how I could improve.”
The Creation of Liyon Media
Godfrey saw an opportunity to make some money off his skill. In July 2013, he started his own media company, Liyon Pictures. The name has significant meaning for him – a way to honour his past whilst setting the foundations for the future:
“I wanted a name that identifies with my heritage and values. Ndinoera Shumba, proudly. That was key in setting it in stone. The Lion part was going to stick. At the back of my mind I recalled the significance and symbolism of a Lion – noble, respectable, presence. Lastly, I looked up any pages that has similar names. There were several. So I decided to add a twist with an ‘i’. Then it ended as Liyon.”
The venture was strictly meant to be photos only, but over time, Godfrey realised that incorporating other media would work in his favour. So he started LOTv in 2014, which covers all types of video content: events, panel discussions, one-on-one interviews. As it stands, Liyon Pictures and LOTv are subsidiaries of Liyon Media. Liyon Media also has Brand Management and Design sections.
Back to Zimbabwe
Godfrey started his company when he was still a student at Rhodes University. The campus environment provided fertile ground for his creativity to breathe and flow. His first clients were his fellow students: they still form a solid support base for Liyon Media. However, Godfrey finished his degree programme at the end of 2015, and it was time for him (and Liyon Media) to move back across the border. The adjustment to full-time life in Harare has not gone as easily as he’d anticipated.
“I pretty much started from scratch as the new year rolled in. Since I was hardly in Zimbabwe due to my schooling commitment in South Africa I had a long way to go in building relationships, partnerships and networking with influential industry stakeholders. I am steadying the ship slowly but surely. I am enjoying the experience so far, learning as much as I can from as many people as I get through the year.”
Although not a seamless transition, Godfrey’s enjoyed the experience so far. Working with Zimbojam as well as establishing a name for himself has kept him very busy, and it’s also allowed him to connect with people in the same industry. Events such as Hustler’s Market, Unplugged, and the Allied Arts Music Festival have opened avenues for engagement and collaboration – opportunities that Godfrey is excited to explore.
The Road Ahead
From collaborating with other creatives, to maintaining ties with established contacts, and never letting his relationship with God slip or stumble, Godfrey has big plans and even bigger dreams. “So far I am still developing and learning. Soon I will expand – more partnerships, more high quality content, and my own establishment that will house all things media, which I am extremely excited about. That’s my dream – to have a renowned, sort after media house that provides high quality content timeously.”
With every photo and video, he does his own bit to contribute to Zimbabwe’s creative culture, and I’m excited to see more of his work out there. We could use a few more Godfreys: young, daring and hardworking people who aren’t afraid to embrace their talent and live out their passion.
All photographs and videos in this post are courtesy of Liyon Media
To see more of Liyon Media’s photography, follow them on Twitter @LiyonMedia.
Check out Godfrey’s personal Twitter account @GodfreyTafi