Over a two week period in February 2012, we partnered with Know Your Zimbos @KnowYourZimbos and called on Zimbabweans everywhere to nominate their peers so we could compile a list of 30 Zimbabweans To Watch! Originally the list was going to be 30 Zimbabweans Under 30 but after realizing it would be hard to verify ages, the Under 30 part was removed.
We wanted to showcase regular people who are positive influencers, people who are passionate about their country and their respective fields. The response was overwhelming which made the selection process THAT much harder.We present to you thirty people that we feel have interesting stories and achievements, you should know them and you should keep an eye on them. These are change agents! Despite any challenges that Zimbabwe may be facing, these are just some of the people flying the flag high.
The list is in no particular order. The list is by no means a definitive list, it does not represent the cultural, racial or gender makeup of Zimbabwe. We hope you are inspired and motivated after reading it. If there are other people you would put on a list like this, tell us about it in the comments section!
- Garikai Chengu, 25 (@chengugold) – Garikai endeavors to utilize his intellectual and financial capacity to develop Zimbabwe. He has conducted Zimbabwe focused research for Columbia University’s Institute for African Studies and Harvard University’s W.E.B Du Bois Institute for African and African American Studies among others. He has worked for Goldman Sachs and is the Founder and Chairman of Chengu Gold Mining Pvt. Ltd. one of Zimbabwe’s fastest growing indigenous private gold companies. More importantly he is directly involved in several projects designed to directly benefit the people of Zimbabwe. www.garikaichengu.com
- Fungai Machirori (@herzimbabwe) – Founder HER Zimbabwe, journalist, runner up at world summit awards 2011, contributer at Zimbo Jam. Fungai built a following as a blogger on her site Fungai Neni before launching HER Zimbabwe, a platform for women to share their stories and disucss issues that affect them. The website is still very new but it is already making waves but very engaging content. Keep an eye on this one! www.herzimbabwe.co.zw
- Tawanda Nyagwaya, 27 (@tah3000) Tawanda is an accountant by profession (soon to be software programmer). He is the founder and Customer Experience Officer (CEO) of Tweet-A-Cab Harare (@TweetACabHre). He describes himself as “a bit of a techno geek,” saying this led him to found Tweet-A-Cab. Capitalizing on the ever growing number of mobile internet users in Zimbabwe, Tawanda wanted to create a cheap and efficient way of booking a cab. Tweet-A-Cab allows you to book a cab without incurring the cost of making a phone call, you can make an enquiry or book your cab by tweeting or sending a message on the popular chat platform, Whatsapp. Tweet-A-Cab makes sense as the number of #twimbos continues to grow. The realtime nature of Twitter and Whatsapp makes it perfect for customers to get fast service and to send feedback. We love the idea!
- Clarah Manuhwa , 21 (@clararudo)- Clarah is a student who is not afraid to dream big.She is the founder of Izwi. Izwi is a platform for African youth, the mission is to enrich the education and futures of African youth through creating opportunities, supporting collaboration and entrepreneurship and igniting innovation. www.izwionline.com
- Doreen Mashu, 28 (@dormash) – Doreen is a social entrepreneur and philanthropist, all while climbing the corporate ladder as an accountant at a large New York City firm. Doreen and her business partner gave birth to neRuDo (@bynerudo) , a fashion line that combines their corporate dress sense with African prints. In addition to being a finance savant and entrepreneur, Doreen is a philanthropist. She founded USAP Cares, the giving back arm of USAP (which she is an alumnus of). USAP Cares supports several organizations in Zimbabwe, providing books, clothes, scholarships and other basics for orphanages and consulting on sustainable projects for other organizations. The sky is the limit for this bold and fearless Zimbabwean woman. www.usapcares.com
- Rob Chifokoyo, 28 (@RobDare2Serve) – The founder of Dare2Serve , a Christian community-based outreach group that seeks to engage youth in service projects in Zimbabwe. The grassroots organization which Rob started with just a few friends in 2007 has been steadily growing. Dare2Serve members conduct outreach around the city of Harare at orphanages and retirement homes. Dare2Serve also works with street children, facilitating a program which gives them a chance to have a decent education. In 2011, Dare2Serve held their first annual conference which drew hundreds of teens from Harare and even Cape Town, South Africa. www.dare2serve.net
- Rutendo Mutsamwira (@RutendoDenise) – All Zimbabweans on twitter have been introduced to R. at one point or another. If there is anything or anyone Zimbabwe related, Rutendo will find them and tweet about it. As a former student media liaison at Monash University SA, she embraced the power of social media to spread information as a “twitter journalist.” She founded @KnowYourZimbos/@AmazingTweetsZW. Her work spotlighting Zimbabweans all over the world led to her being enlisted to cover Zimbabwe Fashion Week 2011, African Fashion Week 2011 and the KMFS CEO Africa Roundtable, among other events. Rutendo is also a writer for Inspiration Avenue Magazine and a contributer for Elle Africa Magazine. She is passionate about Zimbabwe and everyone know it!
- Limbikani S. Kwabeza Makani, 30 (@akwabeza) – Limbikani founded TechZim in 2009. (www.techzim.co.zw) Before starting TechZim, he was the local IT manager at CARE International, he first started a website named ZimLyrics which he later took offline. After recognizing the importance of keeping up with technology, the tech entrepreneur created the widely read Techzim, a news blog focusing on IT news, product reviews and internet services, specifically for Zimbabwe. Limbikani continues to champion the role of ICT services and internet products as part of Zimbabwe’s success story.
- Thandi Muringa ,24 (@Ndi_baybay) – The reigning Miss Earth Zimbabwe and former (2010) Miss Zim USA, Thandeka is a combination, of beauty, brains and a heart of gold. The beauty queen turned social entreprener has taken environmental issues and is making changes. In 2011, she was the head of a project that saw 5000 trees planted at 50 schools, all in 5 days! She continues to highlight environmental problems in Zimbabwe and even after her reign ends, we are sure we won’t have heard the last from her. Thandi documents her community involvement on her blog, “Beauty With a Purpose.” www.thandimuringa.wordpress.com
- Upenyu Makoni (@upenyumakoni) – Upenyu Makoni is a self described tech junkie and new media activist. She is the founder of Kubatana Blogs , Kubatana (www.kubatanablogs.net). Kubatana makes human rights and civic education information accessible from a centralized, electronic source. It is an oline community for Zimbabwean activists to share comments and analyze social justice issues and politics among other issues. Upenyu is also one of the founding organizers of TEDxHarare (@TedxHarare), an event to show “that there are people in Harare with great ideas, who are effecting change in their spheres of influence one person at a time.” Upenyu continues to champion the rights of Zimbabwean citizens; her journey is one to be followed.
- Ezra Murembeni (@TheGobbla) – The Gobbla is a producer, songwriter and remixer based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has worked with many Zimbabwean and South African artists, most notably the group Skwatta Kamp. Gobbla produced their 2010 Metro FM Award winning hit single, “Hey.” Most recently he collaborated with Nigerian artist, Ice Prince (of “Oleku” fame) on a single that will be released soon. In addition to his music, Gobbla is a Fashion Design student. The multitalented creative is one to watch as he makes his way to the top.
- Lorraine Chinouiriri, 23 – Lorraine Chinouiriri started her first business at the young age of 16 in her parents’ garage and has never looked back. After failing to find employment, she decided to create some and help others in her situation through her agency, Young Eagles Recruitment Agency. She is a Virgin Media Pioneer and after pitching her business to the O2 Corporation “Think Big Project”, she was awarded a grant for her agency. Lorraine is also a model who has appeared in various magazines in the UK. She finished second at the Miss Zim Diamond 2011 pageant where she won the most awards.
- Tehn Diamond, 27 (@tehndiamond) – After leaving school in Australia and a stint in Southeast Asia, Tehn moved back to Zimbabwe to build his music career. Local hip hop was not very popular or lucrative in Zimbabwe but Tehn was determined to make his presence felt. A few years later, his following has grown to over 2000 twitter followers and close to 2000 facebook likes. He has become the man of the hour on the Zimbabwean Hip Hop scene You would be hard pressed to find people who has not heard of Tehn Diamond and his NSOA (Nothing Short of Amazing) movement, . Recently Tehn released his highly anticipated, third mixtape in the SOTG series, to a very warm critical reception. Notably, Tehn was awarded a National Achievement Merit Award, a first for a hip hop artist which shows that the work he has been putting in is not in vain. His debut album, The Perfect Tehn drops on September 4, 2012. LOOK OUT for it! www.iamtehn.com
- Nigel Mugamu (@sirenige) – Nigel is a trained accountant, blogger, and social entrepreneur. After being educated and working in the diaspora, he moved back to Zimbabwe and is working on a much needed business venture, Blackstone Bookshop, a book store in Harare. Previously Nigel worked on ZimBiz Forums which provided a platform where members can network, connect and share business information and/or ideas.Many on twitter know him for daily his news rundowns and many also follow his blog SirNige’s Journey. He has a passion for sharing information and open dialogue on African issues. www.sirnige.com
- Nyasha Matonhodze, 18 – Nyasha burst onto the modeling scene in 2011 as the first black model to be the face of luxury fashion label, Louis Vuitton, at only 16 years of age. In an industry that is known for being tough on black girls, Nyasha is trailblazing a path to super stardom. She has become one of the most sought after models, walking in all the big shows in New York, Paris and Milan. Most recently, she snagged the cover of Vogue Magazine in Britain. Some have hailed her as the next Naomi Cambpell; she is definitely one to keep an eye on.
- Mutaurwa Mapondera, 26 (@fortyfourfores) – Mutaurwa is the definition of a global citizen. Having lived on three continents before the age of 18, Mutaurwa knows a lot about distance from the people and places that you love. His latest musical offering, the self-produced Going Back is Not the Same as Staying is a raw display of his feelings on this. Mutaurwa worked as a digital communications professional at the ASICS Europe headquarters in Amsterdam, working with some of the world’s largest brands such as Pepsi, Toyota and ALife. Most recently, Mutaurwa added author to his long list of accomplishments; his first book Boys Without Daddies is available on major US retail website amazon.com This is definitely one dynamo to keep up with. www.mutaurwamapondera.com
- Dalumuzi Mhlanga– Dalumuzi Mhlanga is being the change that he wants to see in the world. the social entrepreneur is the founder of Lead Us Today, a non-profit organization in Zimbabwe whose mission is to inspire, mobilize and empower young people to work together beyond socioeconomic barriers so that they can lead community development effort. The organization continues to grow and work with students at High Schools all over Bulawayo to build a generation of engaged and socially responsible Africans. In 2011, the Harvard student won the College Social Innovater Award and was featured on Forbes Magazine’s website for his efforts. www.leadustoday.org
- Rudo J. Nyangulu (@rudojnyangulu) – Rudo is a lawyer by profession. Having first experienced the difficulties entrepreneurs face when embarking on a new project / business venture, she founded a second business called the Stimulus Group to create an environment that will support entrepreneurs as they grow and develop their businesses. Rudo is also the founder of a charitable organisation called The Art of Being Humane Foundation that works as a means of developing communication & awareness raising campaigns and fundraising for charities in Zimbabwe. In addition, Rudo is the creative director and photographer at Inonzi Memory, a photography and imaging company that brings together Zimbabwe’s best photographers. www.inonzi.co.zw
- Tapiwa Mari, 23 – Tapiwa Mari is a founding trustee of Young Leader’s Forum. An organization which seeks to provide young people in Zimbabwe and Africa with an environment that enhances our capacity to contribute positively towards the development of a future. He says, ” visionary youth with the necessary capacity, knowledge and network to participate in a future economy.” In addition to this, Tapiwa is a law student at the University of Zimbabwe and a renowned debater who has won various competitions in and outside of Zimbabwe. www.youngleadersforum.org
- Nqobizitha Mlilo, 27 – Nqobizitha is a director/animator and emcee, he is the owner of Enqore Media and is known as enqore in entertainment circles. Nqobizitha is best known for music videos he has produced (close to 30). He has held free training sessions for 3D artists in the past and seeks to help the animation industry in Zimbabwe grow. Nqobizitha plans to put all his experience to use and release a full length horror film next year, watch out for it! www.enqoremedia.com
- Winky D- Winky D has taken the Zimbabwean music scene by storm. Born Wallace Chirumiko, he has brought together Zimbabweans from all walks of life through his music. He sells out shows in Zimbabwe and is in heavy demand in the diaspora. His chart topping hits “Musarova Bigman” and “Takaipa” among others have become anthems for young people across Zimbabwe, even “masalad.” The dancehall artist is wildy popular and a list of Zimbabweans to watch cannot be made without him!
- Thabani Mpofu– Advocate Thabani Mpofu has made a name for himself in the Zimbabwean Law circuit. After attending Great Zimbabwe University and later the University of Zimbabwe, Thabani worked as a legal research at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. He has a special place in his heart for Human Rights Law which led him to founding what he describes as “his gift to humanity,” the Thabani Mpofu Center for Justice. TMCJ seeks to provide legal assistance to victims of human rights abuses.
- Thembeni Sigogo– Thembeni is the Deputy Director of Government and Legal Affairs in the Office of the Prime Minister Zimbabwe. Prior to this, she worked briefly at Honey and Blackenberg, a top law firm in Harare. In her spare time, she works as a volunteer in a programme called “Champions for Life”. This is a programme targeted at children born H.I.V positive, with the objective of giving them hope and a sense of destiny. She is an International Lawyers for Africa (ILFA) 2011 candidate.
- Fungai Tichawangana (@ZimboJam)- Founder and former managing editor of the recently relaunched ZimboJam. ZimboJam is Zimbabwe’s biggest website with over 2 million hits per month. Zimbo Jam has grown to be known and loved by almost all Zimbabweans at home and abroad, as it provides information on Zim’s showbiz, lifestyle and cultural arena. He is also the man behind DefZee. Fungai is a professional photographer and owner of Aripano Infinity that runs various online portals that give information that aims to assist the nation. www.zimbojam.com
- Ngoni Makusha , 25 – Sprinter and Long Jumper, winner of 2011 Bowerman award which is given to the top collegiate track & field athlete in the United States. He is Zimbabwe’s national record holder in 100m and long jump. In 2011, he broke world class sprinter, Jamaican Usain Bolt’s 100m record.
- Farai Simoyi – Farai Simoyi was born in England, raised in Zimbabwe and the US, after studying fashion and design in the latter she spent time in Italy honing her skills. Her talent and hard work were recognized as she was invited to appear on the television shows, “I’ve Got Nothing to Wear” and “Style Wars.” Farai has also shown collections at NYFW and her collection was available on popular international shopping website ASOS. Farai describes her namesake brand as “a women’s designer fashion label that designs for the trend setting cosmopolitan. The clientele includes young fashion forward women who are worldly thinkers and are aware of global issues that are changing the fashion, music, and film industries among many others.” Sounds a lot like her! www.faraisimoyi.com
- Nyasha Mushekwi, 24- Nyasha is a top Warriors striker and he was Zimbabwe Premier League’s top goal scorer in 2009. He currently plays for Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa; most notably he scored 6 goals in a match against Powerlines FC in March 2012. He has been generating a lot of interest from international clubs.
- Martin Ganda– Martin co-founded Seeds of Africa Foundation with Simba Makekere, an organization that seeks to sponsor education for under privileged children. The organization is working on raising $1 million to build a knowledge center in Mutare, Zimbabwe, through their buy a brick program. Martin is a product of sponsored education, a young American girl used her money made from babysitting to sponsor his education and eventually he ended up studying in the US before starting a career on Wall Street. . Martin believes in the power of education to lift people out of poverty and that is why he started Seeds of Africa. www.seedsofafrica.com
- Vimbai Mutinhiri, 25 (@Miss_Vimbai) – the model and former contest on 2011’s Big Brother Africa Amplified has become a household name after the whole country watched her on the reality show. In 2011 President Mugabe held a luncheon and rewarded Vimbai and others for their achievements and for flying the Zimbabwean flag high. Vimbai has worked for big brands such as Baby Phat, Bio Oil and Estee Lauder in the past. As she continues her career and branches into new things, she is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
- Abra Simzz (@abrasimzz) & Jusa Dementor (@jusadementor) – Simukai Mandizvidza and Tawanda Sibotshiwe of ABRA (African Bred Recording Artists) tribe are best known for working with Jamaican reggae artist Red Rat on the very popular track, “Rise Up Zimbabwe.” which was released on Zimbabwe’s 30th Independence Anniversary. The pair have won several awards and worked with many artists, both Zimbabwean and foreign. They are providing a platform for Zimbabwean urban artists to further their careers through connections they have made. Moving past music, they created the RIZE movement, a movement to create self believe, unity and creative entrepreneurship amongst Zimbabweans.