dialogue for Cultural Literacy

Selected Articles & Editorials of DIALOGUE a bi-annual journal of culture

Monday, September 18, 2006

dialogue columnist Raphael Chikukwa on BBC

Congratulations to Art Curator and Dialogue columnist Raphael Chikukwa for his ongoing efforts to raise the profile of Afrika's veteran contribution to the World Wars!

This gallant work was recently featured on the BBC.

Readers may remember his exciting article on Zimbawean Art in the December 2006 issue of dialogue...the author is currently in London with his new exhibition on Afrikan War Veterans at the Imperial War Museum.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Exclusive Interview with Founder of Africa Speaks

Interview with the Founder of AFRICA SPEAKS

Published in the Summer Issue of
DIALOGUE Journal for Cultural Literacy

An exclusive interview with

Munyaradzi, Didymus Muzenda

RK: Who is Munyaradzi Muzenda?

MM: Infact, I am Munyaradzi, Didymus Muzenda (Zulu) Born of Zambian Father and Zimbabwean Mother. Came to Zimbabwe in 1976 when my parents separated, and I was 3 years old. Tried to reclaim my right to belong, but to no avail. The conditions were not good for me. I was supposed to bribe some people, as if I was not born in Zambia as if my father was not Zambian. That’s life; I am not the only person who has been denied their right to belong. The story is long. Anywhere, I am born organizer, very proud African, self-inspired dedicated and committed cadre to appraise the indigenous people’s way of living.
Touched by the plight of the young people (Youth) formed Tact Youth Association in 1998. Further to that I am a member of World Youth Leaders, member of Our Human Future, member of the next generation (CLUB 29) under Commonwealth Partnership. Former Co-chairman of National Economic Consultative Forum Youth Task Force, Chairman / Founder of Tact.

RK: What inspired you to initiate or be involved with Africa Speaks?

MM: Vittachi International Youth Conference inspired me. It true that “Wisdom comes with travelling” I got Inspired when I was selected to represent Zimbabwe in Jakarta, Indonesia in June 2001 at the Varindra T. Vittachi International Youth Conference, Sponsored by the Guerrand Hermes Foundation (UK) while in Indonesia I realized that the present perception of Africa out there was/ is not a true reflection of its reality. For example of the 324 international delegates, the majority thought, “ Africa is a thick forest where people and animals live together”.

I asked someone and this is what he said: “I only know two countries in Africa, namely, Somalia and South Africa ” while the other lady surprised me by saying Victoria Falls is in South Africa . It is therefore, these negative perceptions, misinformation that promote me to start “Afrika Speaks, Marketing Africa Globally. Also, am still studying Marketing (C.I.M) and Afrika Speaks is sort of my case study as I am doing my Postgraduate. In short, Afrika Speaks is born to tell the true Africa’s story trough the abundant young people’s talents among through the abundant young people’s talents among them Poetry, Painting, Public Speaking, Singing and Dancing, arts and Craft, Drama, Photography, Story telling, Films etc.

RK: How long has this organization been in existence?

MM:4 Years now, and on 28th October, 2006 , Afrika speaks will be celebrating its 5th Anniversary by holding Afrika Speaks International Poetry Festival 06.

RK: Who are the founders?

MM:I don’t if founding means the visionary. If so, Yes. I am the founder, but there are people whom I felt also played a very important role, people whom I can say they were like a headlamp of a car, that gives direction and clarity to the driver. Hugh Lynn from Whakapuare. New Zealand Scherto Lee (GHFP) UK while in Indonesia , we shared views, and thoughts and they continued to give moral and financial support when I came back. Without them, I was not going to be where I am today. Also lest I shall forget the contributions of my two close friends, Alfred Chirwa (Former Youth Ambassador). Now the World Vision marketing Officer ( Zambia ) Donald Charumbira, Secretary General of World Assembly of Youth.
The 52 young people who gathered at Great Zimbabwe, Masvingo in 2001 and 48 who met in Kariba 2003 made some excellent contributions.

RK: Is Afrika speaks guided by Pan African or UJAAMA?
MM: Not wholly, though we subscribe to a number of concepts, ideologies, beliefs among others of the two fronts, Pan African & UJAAMA. As Afrika Speaks, the true story of Africa must be told. Economics resources, which are factors of production must be owned and controlled by the son of the soil, that restoring dignity of the colonized people. If development is to come, let it be Smart partnership, a win-win situation.

The slight difference of Afrika Speaks is, it is advocating for Young People not to rule Africa but to own and control the factors of production and also to fight some colonial ways of doing things and the black imperialists who have inherited the shoes and jackets of some white imperialists. Besides marketing Africa globally, its time for the Young people in Africa and Diaspora to get united and pioneer the Economic freedom & revolution of Africa . Days of Political revolution are over.

RK: How has African Youth benefited from Africa Speaks efforts over the years?

MM: Let me start with Zimbabwe and then Africa . Firstly, mental decolonization workshops were held across Zimbabwe after were realized that most of the young people are like bottles filled with dirty water and what is needed, is to empty the bottles and refill them with clean water.
- Changing of mind set, instilling of black pride, black capability, black success through radio, television and newspaper.
Talents shows, training and travel
The right to associate, dialogue and deliberate issues of concern, since Afrika speaks is a channel through which the true face and voice of the African Continent can be seen heard.
After getting land to put Afrika Speaks Headquarters the African Youths benefits will be infinity and will include permanent jobs, training, skills development light to develop and to be developed, the light to medication, The right to associate and celebrate their cultural.

RK: Does Afrika Speaks efforts include training and cultural exchange?

MM: Yes, though the program is broad, we search for Africa stars across the board, nurture and develop the potential to reach its full potential, expose the talent by giving it a chance to speak, organize workshops, conference talent shows, Arts and culture festivals, travel arrangement, cultural tourism among others.

RK: What role does history and science play in your efforts as a body?

MM: History is about our yesterday, its about reminding and teaching us of who we are, our morals, values culture and traditions, while Science makes it easier for generations to relate. If we don’t capture history and at the same time not show it to the future humanity will be doomed. Afrika Speaks is the combination of the two, History and Science. As a sign of attaching value to history, we are running a project called my Heroes Project, where by Africans are requested to identify individuals whom they regard as their Heroes.

Why they are their Heroes i.e. at village level, provincial level, country level and continental level. Also we intend to embark on a research on the late Africans, non Africans greats, and the living who helped in the building of Africa , their contribution, impact they left. The information will be put in Afrika Speaks Library & Museum. Therefore History + Science are education tools for Africa .

RK: Where are your Headquarters and who are the main associates, affiliates and contributors?

MM: The Headquarters are in Marondera, provincial capital of Mashonaland East province. Labor farm, Murehwa Road Our associates are all Pan Africans, Individuals, Schools, Organization groups, Companies who subscribe to our aims & objectives.

The main contributors to Afrika Speaks has been Guerand Hermes Foundation for Peace, Whakapuare, Tact Youth Association, Dysan Pvt, DcAfrica, World Assembly of Youth, Municipality of Marondera , Ministry of Youth, Ministry of Science & Technology Development. Individual Contributors are Alfred Chirwa, Noah Mataruse, Donald Charumbira, Idah Muemah and Okuku ( Kenya ) Leonardo Mandidewa, Jevision Gwariwa, Dr. W, T Mbizvo- Perm Sec Ministry of Higher Education, hon Minister of Science and Technology – DR.Olivia.N Muchena who is also the Patron of Tact Youth Association.

RK: What Support have you received in any form local, region, Government or International?

MM: Moral Support, the United Nations Information Centre in Harare offered Boardroom for meetings.
Land from Municipality of Marondera .
Endorsement from World Assembly of Youth
Financial Assistance from Hugh Lynn, Guerrand Hermes Foundation For Peace. DC Africa Dysan Pvt, Migdale Holdings and Ministry of Youth Empowerment and Development.

RK: Has Africa Union or any UN Body Supported Your Vital Work?

MM: NO, I think its not yet vital to them as much as you perceive it vital. When time comes, they will support the project.

RK: What is your relationship to Africans in the Diaspora?

MM: Thank you so much for especially for this question, honestly speaking, I have not yet established some strong relationships especially in the USA , Frame , UK and the Caribbean . All the same, we need
(i) Some guaranteed markets for our Afrika Speaks Info crafts in the various countries.
(ii) Networking and linking Afrika Speaks with other likeminded organization from different sectors i.e. in areas of Cultural exchange programmes.
(iii) Someone to organize some Afrika Speaks Music Festivals / Exhibitions /workshops /Conferences and Workshops.
(iv) Having Afrika Speaks TV and radio programmes to deal with prejudices, enlighten people’s ignorance; speak the positive side of Africa in Diaspora.
(v) Marketing/ promoting the following Projects and Competitions.
· Afrika Speaks International Poetry Festival Oct 06.
· Sing for Afrika project – Dec 06
· Friendship through Art mainly to promote peace, Unity, Understanding and development Sept, 06.
· Afrika Speaks Film (2007-2009).
· Miss Afrika Speaks April 2007.
· My Heroes & Heritage project Aug-06

(vi) Having Afrika Speaks – USA , France , UK , Caribbean etc.
(vii) Having volunteers in the diasporas to bring in their expertise to redesign Afrika Speaks i.e. Website, Magazine

RK: What are Afrika Speaks Plans for the future?

MM: The plans are so many, but as people always say, a journey of 1000km starts with one step. To start with, we are preparing Afrika Speaks International Poetry festivals in October, 2006, 25 – 29 to mark and celebrate Afrika Speaks’ 5th Anniversary. Africans in the Diaspora poets are invited to participate.

v Fundraising and resource mobilization
v Search for Africa stars across the continent.
v Creating awareness of Afrika Speaks worldwide.
v Organizing Afrika Speaks Architects, Surveyors, Town planners, Engineers conference, to enable designers to share views and plan the actual kind of construction we envision.
v A.S Architectural Design competition.
v Miss Afrika Speaks Diaspora Dec, 06, Miss Afrika Speaks – Africa April 2007
v Construction of 15 Gazebos and chalets
v Setting up of Afrika Speaks Music, dance and Film Company
v Setting up of Afrika Speaks School of Arts, Culture & Tourism
v Having Africa Arts Festivals 07 and World Arts festival 2008 & 2010

RK: What has been the most significant achievement since the launch of Afrika Speaks?


v Bringing the regional African Youth together twice during the strategic planning workshop in Kariba 2002 and the 2nd Afrika Speaks conference in Marondera 2003
v Holding mental decolonization workshops. Lastly, the Historic achievement was getting the land for this project, Africa Speaks the home for all Africans. This has also taken the project to another level that needs practical individuals and minds.

By getting the land, it also transformed and made Afrika Speaks to be now a reality. A reality that needs Social & Economic partnership for development through Co-operation, Technological transfer, joint venture, talent exchange, Technological Aid, Mutual, help and sponsorship. Remember World Cup 2010 will be coming to Africa .

RK: Would you care to share some of the highs and lows with our readers?

MM: Why not, let me start with the lows. The environment we are operating is not conclusive to the development of creative minds. It’s not easy to achieve results in Africa due to lack of support both technical and financial, worse still when you are a young person. To me, all unrealistic things turned realistic it has been normal and still normal to work without the minimum basic requirements but still achieve the best results. I have been abused, swindled, conned property confiscated but that didn’t take away the energy and drive out of me. “In confrontation of a river and a mountain, the river always wins the battle, not because of power, but because of perseverance”. The prize for greatness must be paid in advance and in full.

I was also denied a visa to attend the Vittachi conference in USA in 2004 on the grounds and assumptions that I was the son of the late Vice president’s His Excellency. CDE Simon V. Muzenda. Sanctions also crippled into my way. Opportunities were created for me, in Europe to give lectures and meet friends of Afrika Speaks & various stakeholders, but couldn’t travel. What surprises me is we speak of freedom of movement, human rights, justice, peace, right to associate etc, that we always violate. Lets learn to support any creative, innovative and unique idea and projects irregardless of the age, sex, origin, race or nationality.

On the high side, nothing is impossible, to all your readers I say “Death is not the greatest loss in life, the greatest loss in life is what dies within us while we live.” My inspiration comes from the bible, Hebrews 10:35-37.

I felt honored to represent Zimbabwe and Africa especially in Asia . I have managed to bring a number of Friends of Africa to Africa to enable them to see, feel and touch Africa . Lastly, moving away from the luxury of the city of Harare to the farm where I am not connected to the world, no clean water no electricity, no internet.
My policy is, you can be with me or against me, but which way you go, you will make me strong.

RK: What difficulties have you encountered as a body at the expense of our contributing commitment?

MM: Racism, Discrimination, divide and rules. Lack of support from the key stakeholders, in providing the basic requirements, living salaries for the staff, computers, printers, laptops, vehicles for mobility among other things.

RK: How may our readers support or get involved with Afrika Speaks?

MM: They can support in any way possible, ways that will enable the body to market and promote Afrika globally, ways that will enable to develop the land. Your members can support by being members of Afrika Speaks, and form Afrika Speaks clubs e.g Afrika Speaks – France, Afrika Speaks – USA, UK, Caribbean.
Organizing exhibitions, conferences and fundraising musical shows.
Designing. Afrika Speaks Website, donating a server, and sourcing some Computers.
Register as Afrika Speaks Technical Volunteers and help to
a) Print Afrika Speaks promotional materials, T/Shirts, Caps, Trousers, Posters with Africa Speaks Logo.
b) Design and put information together for Afrika Speaks magazines and newspaper. Look for companies in France , USA , UK , Caribbean to advertise in the magazine
· Marketing promoting and mobilizing resources Afrika Speaks International Poetry Festival October 06 (The 4Ps International Festivals 06 i.e. Poetry Painting, Photography and Public Speaking)
· Forming Afrika Speaks Diaspora Club that will then organize Miss Afrika Speaks Diaspora 2006 & Musical Concert for the Africa ’s greatest musicians.
· Initiate some cultural Tourism Exchange programs with various institutions. Have at least 10 – 15 delegation coming to Africa every month to explore opportunities and experience Africa .
· Research for orders, get some contracts to supply and sell our Agricultural products, Arts and Crafts from Africa .
· Networking Afrika Speaks to various professional, Colleges Universities , NGOs and Donors in the Diaspora.
· Allow Architects, Diasporan surveyors, Planners, Engineers, to come down and help in the designing of the Center (Brain Gain). We intend to have a building with 53 storeys depicting the 53 nations in Africa .
· Contribute in the Afrika Speaks. Buy a brick campaign October 2006 – October 2007.

RK: Do you accept donations or purposely solicit financial assistance for your ventures?

MM: Yes, we accept financial and technical assistance for our ventures; but whoever is donating must specify the area/ venture which they are interested in Afrika Speaks has 8 key areas i.e. (i) Web Portal (ii) Festivals (iii) Library & Museums
(iv) Design & Publications (v) Youth Resort & Agriculture (vi) Growth and Development (vii) Youth Bank (viii) Football & Business.

The other areas that need resources are: Administration, Education and Training, Travel and developing the centre.
Technically, we need ICT equipment, to set up Afrika Speaks Internet cafes across Africa with phase I starting with Southern Africa .

We also need 3 x Digital cameras PD 170 with external mic
- Editing suite, computer with editing card
- 80 Gig or more, 1 gig ram a DVD writer
Mobilizing resources for Afrika Speaks Youth Bank, which will be a technical Bank for Young people in Africa . Its purpose will be to provide machinery and equipment for African Young people e.g Agro processing machines, wood, leather, services machines, tractors, Brick molding, construction, in short any machine will help to improve the welfare of African Youth.

RK: Any other matter you wish to add?

MM: Business people, companies, Airlines, who want to increase their market share, get known in Africa , they can get involved in Afrika Speaks by supporting Afrika Speaks competitions and festivals by printing of T/Shirts, Caps with Afrika Speaks Logo. One voice to the world, Afrika Speaks. The world needs your voice.

Lastly as Afrika Speaks, we believe that our Africa and the world over, will be a better place to live in. if we develop communities in a way that natures human relationships, strengthens communities and creates bonds between people and the environment. Appraise the Indigenous people’s way of living and how they relate themselves to the world around there.

Thank you for affording me this Interview, You have started a small fire in the Diaspora. “Pieces of firewood are always, bound together” and there is great need for us all to be united “He who travels alone, die alone”

E-mail: didymunya@yahoo.com
Postal: Munyaradzi, Muzenda
House No. 16A Takawira Street
Or 8360- 110 Crescent
Yellow City
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