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HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire


3 - EDITORIAL WRITERS’ CORNER 4 - Portia Mushambi - Author, The Mysterious Melody & Co-founder of Naniso Creates ARTS & CULTURE 8 - Lionel Kanyowa - Stories Through a Lens FEATURES 12 - Tandi Kuwana - Championing Mental Health in the Diaspora 42 - Val Angel COVER STORY - Behind the Scenes With #TeamCookOff 18 - Tendie Chitima, Anesu 21 - Tendai Ryan Nguni, Prince 24 - Eugene Zimbudzi, Tapiwa 26 - Jesesi Mungoshi, Gogo 28 - Joe Njagu, Producer 30 - Tomas Brickhill, Director YOUNG MUTAPA 32 - Anesu Gands - Building for a Legacy THE COVID-19 DIARIES 37 - Lessons From a Pandemic - Vonayi Nyamazana 38 - Community Charity - The Gogo Project 40 - Profile: Community Champion 35/41/44 - Scenes of Harare COVER DESIGNED BY RR CHAWOTA PICTURE BY BONGANI KUMBULA MAGAZINE DESIGNS AND LAYOUTS BY RR CHAWOTA Editor In Chief - Rhoda Molife; Creative Design Director - Rodney Rumbidzai Chawota; Chairman - Godwin Chireka; Public Relations Director - Simba Harawa; Marketing Director - Prosper Taruvinga; Social Media Marketing Expert - Rumbidzai Chakanza Mamvura; Public Relations Executive - Vannesa Moosa HOUSE OF MUTAPA PVT LTD is a Registered Trademark. South Africa. Copyright 2020.

Contact - info@houseofmutapa.com 2

HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire



came across this meme today for the 2nd time in as many months that read:

ue and some incredible changes have taken place… and more must come. Rising photographer and our Arts&Culture feature Lionel Kanyowa talks a little to his US and UK experience of racism. Further, it’s in times like this when teaching our young about our rich and vibrant cultures becomes really important and that’s why it was great to talk with children’s author Portia Mushambi.

‘So, in retrospect in 2015, not a single person got the answer right to, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?”’ The retroscope is indeed a wonderful thing because now at the halfway mark of 2020, who could have foreseen what we have seen this year? The COVID-19 pandemic continues to change the way we live in ways we could not have imagined. Guest author and transformational adviser, Vonayi Nyamazana, reflects on how she and we can use this and any period of great uncertainty to our advantage. Tafadzwa Kadye and Fungai Marima share another way of dealing with uncertainty – through charity. Young community champions in Mbare and the UK helping others in need with The Gogo Project is a sure way to bring some stability to the chaos. We also feature another community champion, one that advocates for mental health for migrants in Australia, Tandi Kuwana.

In all this upheaval, a little golden nugget then came our way in the form of Cook Off, the first Zimbabwean film to stream on Netflix. On the face of it, many would have thought it had just happened. But we at HoM know that when it comes to making history, there’s always a backstory; we had to find out how a low-budget Zimbabwean film goes on to win multiple awards and stream on the world’s leading internet-based entertainment site. To find out, read our interviews with Eugene Zimbudzi, Tendi Chitima, Tendai Ryan Nguni, the icon of Zimbabwean cinema Jesesi Mungoshi, Tom Brickhill and Joe Njagu. Let me give you a little hint… think commitment to one’s craft, passion, vision and taking risks… all things anyone can do.

The conversation on institutional racism, racial inequality and white privilege also suddenly became very loud and urgent after the murder of African-American George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer back in May. One month after his death, US and worldwide protests against racism contin-

Read all this and more in our mid-year issue. Enjoy and always, always be inspired! Rhoda Editor-in-Chief & Strategy Executive


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire

Photo Credit - Naniso Media


Portia Mushambi 4

HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire


ortia Mushambi (pen name SP K-Mushambi) published her debut children’s book The Mysterious Melody in July 2019 with Conscious Dreams Publishing. Born in England and raised in Zimbabwe, she’s worked in banking and corporate treasury for over 20 years. She founded NanisoCreate, birthed from her experience of raising children in the African diaspora, and after noticing a lack of readily available literature representing them. Guided by the motto ‘Imagine it. Create it. Inspire’, she hopes to touch the hearts and minds of young children of all backgrounds with positive representations of Zimbabwean culture within literature and other artistic outputs. Portia lives in Berkshire, England with her husband and two daughters. by Rhoda Molife rhoda@houseofmutapa.com What’s The Mysterious Melody about? It’s about the first adventure of Naniso and Shinga who are 10-year-old twins living their ordinary life in England. They stumble upon a mbira – a thumb piano – our traditional and national instrument. This discovery and the melody that comes from it ignites a curiosity about their unfamiliar heritage, so they begin to explore its fables, tales, music and legends. In this story and in their subsequent adventures with their friends, Naniso and Shinga weave through the tapestry of their multi-cultural inheritance and begin a journey of discovery into what makes them who they are.

those characters you’ve created and their stories are appreciated and enjoyed by others. And the most challenging part… Staying motivated. Like most things we start projects with good intentions. Well, my aim is to write at least 500 words a day. Somedays I don’t feel up to it and would rather catch up on a Netflix boxset. So, to stay focused, I give myself little rewards if I achieve a daily goal - that means chocolate!

The inspiration behind the story is… …My experience of raising multicultural children, seeing the dual lives that they and others lead and by the stories and lessons that I share with them to help them take pride in their identity. I’m passionate about increasing the availability of literature to all children that represents the multicultural world they live in.

What was the first thing you ever wrote? I remember writing poems and turning them into songs for my friends to sing when I was quite young. There’s a poem I wrote when I was ten… about saving the rhinoceros. I was really upset about the declining numbers of the black rhino due to poaching back then.

I hope my books not only benefit the readers as a reflection of themselves in literature but also act as a window through which others can embrace, learn about, appreciate and celebrate our differences.

What inspired you to write?

How long did it take to write?

The world around me and the desire to create something.

About six months, including working on the beautiful illustrations with my wonderful illustrator, Kudzai Gumbo. I had the opportunity to take a career break and direct that focus to writing.

How do you deal with writer’s block? What works for me is to step away from my work. A walk, nap, music and baking have been my go-to when stuck. I also meditate and try to find a balanced relationship with my inner critic. If not kept in check, that little voice can crush your dreams.

The most rewarding thing about writing a book is… I’m tempted to say finishing it! However, writing itself is absolutely rewarding. It allows me to explore ideas and give life to characters. It’s humbling when

Your top three tips on getting and staying in the writing zone are…


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire


Photo Credit - K Lawrence Photography

“The desire to create”

HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire

“I’m passionate...”

Photo Credit - Naniso Media

Eat before you start and stay hydrated. Switch off all distractions - yes that includes your phone!

a few weeks. Books are…

Have a clear goal and reward yourself for achieving your targets.

…A magical gateway where you discover other worlds and ideas.

What are you reading now?

Follow NanisoCreate here:

For homeschooling we’re reading Animal Farm by George Orwell - aloud and as a family.

IG: @nanisocreate

I’ve just started reading Slay in Your Lane by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene.

Facebook: NanisoCreate

A book…or two…that had an impact on you.

To buy The Mysterious Melody go to:

Website: www.nanisocreate.com

The Autobiography of my Mother by Jamaica Kincaid. I vividly remember that while reading it, I got lost in its pages and was captivated by descriptions of places I’d never visited. While it’s a tragic story, the book is written in such beautiful poetic prose – plus it’s powerful and full of culture.

www.nanisocreate.com/tmm Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mysterious-Melody-S-P-K-Mushambi/dp/1916121705 Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/ book/the-mysterious-melody/s-p-k-mushambi/ kudzai-gumbo/9781916121706

When’s the next book coming?! I’m looking forward to releasing the follow-up to The Mysterious Melody later this year. In the meantime, I’m excited that my first picture book, Tarirai’s Choice, for the younger readers, will be published in

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble. com/w/the-mysterious-melody-s-p-k-mushambi/1132140699?ean=9781916121706


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire

arts & culture

Lionel Kanyowa 8

HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire


ionel Kanyowa is a student, photographer and budding entrepreneur. Born in Harare, he studied at Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbour where he obtained an Associate Degree in Information Technology. He is now in his senior year of a BSc in Informatics and Mathematics at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan.

UK really inspired me and helped me realize that in life, if you set your mind to do something, anything is possible. You are now many miles away from siblings and family. How do you handle it? It’s definitely not easy. But I know God brought me to the US for a reason. My family has always supported me in going for what I want. Knowing that alone keeps me going and motivated.

Whilst at Lake Michigan College, he was twice-selected to deliver the Martin Luther Speech; he also gave the commencement speech at his 2018 graduation ceremony. Lionel recently founded Black Lions Studios which provides photography and videography services for a range of events.

You gave a commencement speech at Lake Michigan College. How did that happen? When I saw a poster asking for students to audition to give the commencement speech, I first ignored it. But after some encouragement from friends, I went along to audition with no expectations at all, and to my surprise, I was picked as the finalist to speak. I wouldn’t say I’m a natural public speaker and I had auditioned alongside many more talented students.

by Godwin Chireka godwin@houseofmutapa.com Describe you!

After the speech, I had such overwhelmingly positive feedback that I got invitations to speak at different institutions. That’s when I knew that God wanted to use me in a mighty way.

I’m an easy-going guy and very introverted. I’d like to think of myself as a dreamer but a go-getter. This probably comes from my humble beginnings in Zimbabwe. Life wasn’t easy then. My mom had to work really hard for the family. Seeing her move us to the

Racism continues to rear its ugly head in the US.


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire How are you finding life there right now? It’s definitely a matter that can no longer be ignored. In the six years that I’ve been here, I haven’t yet experienced blatant racism. It’s been more subtle, mostly because I haven’t been to many parts of the country yet. It is tough, and I can definitely empathize with my brothers and sisters here as I did experience a lot of racism throughout my time in primary and high school while living in the UK. I’m mostly focused on my goals and thank God I haven’t experienced anything of real concern. Black Lions Studios - what’s the story behind the name? When I delivered my commencement speech at Lake Michigan, I knew I had a message to share. I drew on my upbringing in a single-parent family where many unspoken pains and struggles were endured. Since public speaking is not my strong point, I knew I had to find another way to effectively share my story. So, I picked up my first camera. I didn’t know how it was going to turn out, but I knew I wanted to tell a story with my photography - not only for myself but also to tell other people’s stories through my lens. What do you want to achieve with Black Lions? I want to create a media business, travel the world, photograph weddings, events, portraits, campaigns, you name it. My motivation comes from serving my community and by that, I mean my black community. I love to see our community producing entrepreneurs, scholars, musicians, scientists, actors, the works - and I want to capture those moments. For me, it’s about giving an accurate representation of what the black man and woman are truly capable of, for the rest of the world to see.

To be honest with you, I’ve seen the most results and growth I’ve ever had in my business during this time. So, there’s opportunity even in bad situations that can be a second chance to make a difference in your life.

What makes a picture, a picture?

I would say be the bridge between the older and current generation. Learn from the older generation. They have a lot of wisdom and insight that can really help us to make a better world for ourselves. Success cannot be achieved alone. Let’s learn to connect with one another wherever we are across the world.

Nothing is too big when God is in it. We just have to stay strong and be encouraged. Any leadership lessons for your contemporaries, especially those in the diaspora?

It’s about capturing the right emotion which brings out the true beauty of the person. I aim to capture key moments especially when a person is being authentic to who they are. So, what makes a picture worthy is not always about taking a good photo but actually stepping into the person’s shoes and feeling what they’re feeling then recording that visually.

Your ideal life partner would… … Have values that align with mine, especially Christian values; someone who can support my goals and I theirs. As long as that’s established, we can sort the rest out!

What else keeps you motivated? Definitely my photography! (laughs) I also like keeping fit and reading books, but friends and family are the best motivators for me if I’m to be honest.

Soccer or basketball?

What other projects are you working on?

I’ve definitely got the height for basketball and I don’t mind it. Though I’m no Messi, nothing beats soccer. We grew up with it - from watching the World Cup back in Zim on our small black and white TV, to playing in tar with bare feet. Great memories!

Currently, I’m working on a few film projects that showcase the behind the scenes of my photoshoot, as well as an insight for people to know the man behind the camera. I’m also working with a lot of entrepreneurs, models, people in the UK, Africa and here in the US, so stay tuned for that.

Follow Lionel here: LinkedIn: Lionel Kanyowa

A lesson during this pandemic has been...

Facebook: Black Lions Studios

… We’re definitely living in uncertain times but do not let that hinder you from achieving your dreams.

Website: www.blacklionsstudio.com


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire

Photo Credit - Verge Studios



HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire


andi Kuwana is an award-winning mental health clinical facilitator at Curtin University and founding director of Mental Wellness Keys, a consultancy organisation in Perth. She runs mental health awareness programs for migrants through her organisation and in collaboration with other charity organisations in Western Australia.

Photo Credit - Connor Devlin Media

This year she was inducted into the Western Australia Women’s Hall of Fame and in 2019, she received the Organisation of African Communitys’ Community Champion Award. Tandi talks to us about what drives her passion for social justice and advocacy for safe mental health services Down Under. by Simba Harawa simba@houseofmutapa.com Tell us a little about your life in Zimbabwe, childhood memories and your childhood hobbies.

to discuss the subject saying mental illness does not affect us Africans. The reality was and is that mental illness does not discriminate because 1 in any 4 people are diagnosed with a mental illness at some stage in their life.

I grew up in Chitungwiza as the only girl in the family. Playing with my brothers toughened me but I enjoyed it. I read numerous books which made me dream, especially about the woman I wanted to be.

Tell us a bit about your career as a mental health nurse, how the journey started and where you are now.

As a child, I wanted to be a lawyer, but my mother had other ideas. She wanted me to be a nurse. The work that I do now advocating for those from marginalised societies stems from wanting to be a lawyer and fighting inequalities in health at a policy level.

I started as a nursing assistant in the UK, became curious about the meanings of psychiatric terminology then studied mental health nursing. Then I moved to Australia.

What do you miss about Zimbabwe?

Following a workplace injury that threatened my career I volunteered to conduct mental health literacy sessions when I realised there really was a gap in knowledge about mental illness in people from culturally diverse communities. In my eyes, mental health services struggled to serve these communities, so I started working with service providers assisting them with making their policies inclusive.

I was raised by my mum after my father died. We used to eat mbambaira – sweet potato - for breakfast. We ate a lot of brown sadza, mahewu, roasted peanuts and rice with peanut butter. I miss that food. I also miss my extended family, more so for my children. It would be so good for them to know their extended family and more about our heritage.

I now sit on state and federal advisory boards advocating for change in policy and making sure that the needs of culturally diverse communities are reflected in these policies - from recruitment to service provision. I would love my children to view mental illness differently and know there is strength in seeking help.

How did you end up in Australia? I trained as a mental health nurse in the UK. For 2 years, I had an Australian coin in my purse before I decided to migrate to Australia with my family. How did you handle the cultural shift when you came to Australia?

The Zimbabwean community in Western Australia is…

When I moved to England from Zimbabwe, I was young and I had to learn and adapt quickly. When I came to Australia it was different. I’d just had my son, so started thinking about the food that I ate, the quality of education that I wanted for my kids, and so on. Wherever I worked, my main concern was the lack of diversity at the executive level. I wanted to see people like me.

… Independent. By this I mean we tend to deal with problems as a community. We tend to fend for ourselves and not rely on welfare or government services. Whilst this is good, I see community members sometimes not fully utilising Australian mainstream services.

Then I started thinking about the mental health issues in our community. Most people were not willing

At one point, we had several suicides in the commu-


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire

“Have a dream”

Photo Credit - Matt Jolonek

nity and we tried to deal with this issue independently with no help from suicide prevention specialists. Another African community I worked with had the same issue, sought help from the government and received the support they required. I think we have to work on how we deal with shame. Shame deters us from seeking help. To a young migrant in Australia right now, you would say…. Try to become part of your community and interact with people from diverse backgrounds. That’s how you learn, develop and expand your network. Identify resources at your disposal. Have the courage to ask. If you’re looking for a job, there are workshops that teach people how to prepare resumes, write cover letters and prepare for interviews. Ask for help from the people who are doing what you aspire to do. Knock on their doors and don’t give up. Someone will see your potential and help you. Ask to be mentored by the best. Follow your heart. If you want to pursue a certain career, just go for it. Just because it’s not been done before by someone you know doesn’t mean you can’t do it.

What inspired your passion for mental health and charity work? So, after that injury at work, I needed surgery and there was a real risk that I would not be able to return to work. As I recuperated, I was diagnosed with depression. It was an arduous time for me and my family. I was trying to be strong but being strong was not working. The internal conflict trying to make sense of mental illness and my cultural and religious beliefs confused me to say the least and left me hopeless at times. I learnt that helping someone else when you are feeling low makes you feel better, so I started volunteering and that helped lift my mood. One does not volunteer because they have spare time, but you must create time to be of service to others. I became comfortable talking about being depressed and recovering because I didn’t want anyone else to experience the internal conflict I experienced. By sharing my story, I wanted people to start having conversations about this taboo subject. I simply had to be that person for the community and for my children. What are two of the biggest challenges you’ve


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire faced as an emerging leader and how did you handle those challenges? Being turned down so many times. When that happens, I don’t focus on finding someone or something to blame but look inward. Then I seek feedback from people I trust like my mentors who also keep me accountable. I’ve realised that the doors that have been shut have led to my growth. We must crawl before we walk or run. I also started practising gratitude daily by writing down three things that I’m grateful for. When doors are shut, I replay the three things I’m grateful for and that helps me deal with disappointments and keep going.

Photo Credit - Gasian

The second challenge is managing time. I spend time alone. Not long ago, I travelled to Rome by myself. That gave me the time to reflect and re-energise. You can only look after others well if you’re looking after yourself. What are your tips for survival and resilience in these testing times? We come from a collective community and this influences how we seek help. When things go wrong, we tend to gravitate towards what we know best based on our culture. Our understanding of resilience is different from the academic definition. To some it means being prayerful, going to church and solving your problems alone. In dealing with situations at an individual level, some will suffer in silence and not access services that can help.

You can create time to help others. This is contrary to what I was taught when I was young – that you volunteer when you have spare time. I look after myself and ensure I get time to myself so that I can be of real service to my family and others.

The thing is being resilient entails being able to use all the resources available to us as well as our culture, tradition and religion. As immigrant communities, we should be more open to learning different ways of dealing with issues from our host country, just as the host country can learn from us.

When I received the nomination email, I opened it, read it and wondered whether I was dreaming, but didn’t respond. About ten days later a lady called me asking whether I was accepting the nomination. That’s when it sank in. I always thought of inductees into the Hall of Fame as women who had done more than I had done. I guess I didn’t realise how important the work I did was and how much it was needed until then. I hope my story helps keep the conversations about mental illness going in my community and encourage others to seek help.

You have several awards and accolades to your name. What are your ingredients for success? Have a dream and visualise who you want to be. Then work hard to achieve that dream. What I know is that sometimes we just need to focus on the skills we fall short on and that make us less competitive. It’s important to have mentors who can help us navigate our goals when we get stuck. It’s also important to be a lifelong learner. A critical piece of advice for a young person aspiring to impactful leadership is…

How did you feel after being named as a 2020 Western Australia’s Women’s Hall of Fame Community Inductee?

Would you consider running for political office? Funny you ask that question! When I was awarded the Organisation of African Community Champion Award, I was asked that same question. I see myself thriving not as a politician but as an advisor to the government of Australia on multicultural mental health.

Leadership is about seeing the potential in others and helping them reach that potential. I see it as being of service to others, as shining the light on others. Impactful work requires us to remember that if you change one person’s life you change many. It’s a ripple effect. Leadership is about lending a helping hand to someone and walking with them as they find their purpose.

What’s next for you?

How do you juggle family, work, advocacy and your charity?

LinkedIn: Tandi Charmaine Kuwana

I want to keep influencing mental health policy-making in Australia and hopefully help reshape the future of mental health services in Zimbabwe. Follow Tandi Kuwana here: Facebook: Tandi Kuwana Website: www.mymentalwellness.com.au


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire


COOK OFF The Surprise Hit

Award Winning Romantic Comedy

“Miracle” The Guardian

First Ever Zimbabwean Film On Netflix

“Defying All Odds”


Photo Credit - Bongani Kumbula

Al Jazeera

HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire

Behind the Scenes with #TeamCookOff By Rhoda Molife rhoda@houseofmutapa.com #2020 will go down in history for lots of reasons that we all know very well by now. One of those reasons though was not bad at all, came from left field, a gleaming silver lining on a dark cloud - the first ever Zimbabwean film to be streamed on Netflix. Cook Off, a rom-com written and directed by Tomas Brickhill and produced by Joe Njagu – both Zimbabwean filmmakers - premiered on the platform on 1 June this year. It was shot and first previewed and screened in 2017 before going on to its international premiere at the prestigious Rotterdam Film Festival (IFRR) in 2018. There it placed 38th out of 187 films and was rated 4.2 out of 5 stars by the audience. Its African premiere was at the Durban Film Festival in mid-2018 and the London premiere was in 2019 in Mayfair. The film has been screened at multiple festivals and won several awards including Best Film and Best Actress at both the Zimbabwe International Film Festival (ZIFF) and the National Arts and Merits Awards (NAMAs). Earlier this year, it also added the Nancy Green Founder’s Award and the Audience Award for Best Feature at the Cambria Film Festival in California to the awards shelf. As the film gathered momentum during the festival screenings, the team was able to get it in front of the Acquisitions Team for Netflix Africa and the rest is… well… modern-day history! Cook Off tells the story of single mother, Anesu, played by the gorgeous Tendaiishe Chitima, who loves cooking. Her son, Tapiwa, played by the then 11-year-old Eugene Zimbudzi, enters her in a cooking competition. Low in confidence as a result of a mother who never misses an opportunity to express her disappointment at Anesu’s single ‘motherhood-dom’, she’s totally thrown - at first. Then she realizes the opportunity to change her life… and find love with her fellow contestant Prince, played by Tendai Ryan Nguni. The film also features the legendary Jesesi Mungoshi, a cinematic legend and Zimbabwean icon and the immensely powerful actor Eddie Sandifolo; they play Anesu’s grandmother and fellow contestant, respectively. Acclaimed actress, poet and writer Charmaine Mujeri plays Anesu’s best friend. Here at House of Mutapa, we are all about sharing stories of excellence with you guys. Behind true excellence is usually an incredible backstory of not just talent and skill, but consistent and persistent commitment to mastering that talent and skill… and self too. The journey to get to a win speaks so much about what it takes to achieve and in doing so inspires others to seek their own wins. To win in the way Cook Off has – making history, reclaiming our narrative, reigniting the flame of Zimbabwean cinema, showcasing collaboration at its best – probably means the journey must have been pretty extra-ordinary and with an alignment of some true stars too. We simply had to delve behind the scenes with the team and find out just what it took to create this watershed moment in African cinema. Read on and be inspired!


Tendie Chitima 18

Photo Credit - Mario Kuruc

HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire

HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire


ook Off is Tendaiishe ‘Tendie’ Chitima’s feature film debut for which she has already won two best actress awards for her performance as Anesu, the single mother and reality cooking show competitor. She has appeared in several shows on South African television including Mutual Friends, iNumber iNumber and Guilt, as well as in theatre productions in Zimbabwe.

lenge of lack of support and structure. There isn’t enough in Zimbabwe to support young actors to pursue acting as a profession. So, finding my own way was a challenge – who to speak to, what to do, that sort of thing. Living in Jo’burg did help because at least the industry is functioning and there are structures that I could tap into. The second one is actually finding work. That whole process can knock your confidence, so I had to really believe in myself, feed myself positivity, have faith and trust in God. That pulled me through. My family and friends were encouraging even if they didn’t always understand the career I was pursuing. My mentor and my aunt funded a couple of programmes that I took whilst I was auditioning for roles, so that really helped to keep the flame alive. It was hard work but I’m glad I made it.

Born and raised in Harare, Tendie is currently based in South Africa but regularly travels back home. She was awarded an MBA from Wits Business School in 2019. Thank you so much for doing this interview with us House of Mutapa. Thought I’d say that first! We appreciate your support. The pleasure is absolutely ours Tendie! So, first where are you from?

Sometimes the small wins help overcome the big losses. There were moments when I had these small but significant wins that helped me stay on track.

I was born and raised in Harare and moved to South Africa in 2010 when I started university. I’ve been based here since then – moving from Cape Town to Jo’burg in 2013. But it’s temporary. Who knows where I’m gonna be in the future! (laughs)

How did you land the role of Anesu? Well back in 2017, I was going to be in Zim for a month as maid of honour at a best friend’s wedding. The year before I’d auditioned for Joe Njagu’s film Escape. Though I didn’t get the part, I remembered him and followed him on Facebook.

Some of your favourite childhood memories from Zimbabwe are… … The rain and how it smells; the rich dark-brown soil and how it smells after the rain; the rainbows; the sunsets – beautiful big sunsets. I really love the rainy season you can tell! Then after the rain when it’s the golden hour and the wasps were everywhere, we’d be playing in the streets. We used to play in the streets a lot. Back in the day when the street lamps worked, the wasps would be drawn to the light and we’d just be mesmerised by them, trying to catch some to go and fry at home. We’d also play with frogs - it was dope! And playing pada and all kinds of games. I have really fond memories of my childhood because there were so many kids of the same age in our street and our yards were really, really big so we would get up to all kinds of things. We’d climb trees and eat fruits – guavas, mangoes, strawberries – it was delicious. My childhood was delicious! (giggles)

So, when I came to Zim for the wedding, I in-boxed him and told him I would be around for a month and asked to join him on set to see how things worked. I thought maybe I could be an assistant on set or something! He replied telling me that they were looking for a lead actress for a film. Of course, I was interested but he went quiet on me for a few days! I bombarded him with messages asking him, ‘kuti how far!’ He put me in touch with Tom (Brickhill, director) who sent me the script and I sent him my show reel. Within a few days we’d agreed to work together. All this happened within a week! One highlight of being a part of the film was… … Working on a Zimbabwean film as my first feature film. I’d been waiting for a long time to do one and be a lead in one so for me it’s a great gift that it happened to be a Zimbabwean film that got me my first lead role.

Your inspiration to be an actress was… … The inspiration literally came from me. I discovered acting at university even though I hadn’t done it before because I was very shy. I talked myself into taking a drama course and fell in love with acting. I realised that if I could spend my entire life acting, I’d be happy.

To be celebrated and appreciated by your own is a big deal. It’s heart-warming, fulfilling and rewarding and I’m grateful! How has life changed for you since being a part of this film?

What was your first acting job? It was in a short film called Eveline and I played… a Zimbabwean woman. It was filmed in Jo’burg in about a week and I loved it.

I gained so much experience. Being a lead means working non-stop, shooting scenes back-to-back and building the character and so I learnt a lot.

Two of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as an actress are…

Then I got more exposure. I went to the Durban Film Festival and visited the UK for the first time for a tour with the film. Then there was Los Angeles for the Pan-African Film Festival which was special. I got

… Phew! Two? Just two?! I guess I’ve faced the chal-


Photo-Credit - Anel Wessels

HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire

to learn so much about promoting a film. Next being on Netflix I’m learning even more. Now, I’m getting approached for work too and I’m mentoring young people who want to get into film, and I love that! What are your thoughts on the Zimbabwean film industry and what do you hope Cook Off will do for it? It still needs to develop and grow. To do that one of the things we need is money and so I’m hoping when people watch the film, potential investors and collaborators can see that we can tell good stories and there is talent here. With that we can make even better quality films, professions around film can grow and people can take our industry seriously. I also hope that the brand of Zimbabwe will be uplifted to one of a positive narrative helping people around the world to want to know us.

If you weren’t an actress, what would you do? I have no idea! (laughs). Maybe a dancer. Maybe a sports manager. I am starting my journey as a business woman now too so perhaps that’s one thing I’ll do! What do your parents say about it all? When they saw me at all these film festivals and being interviewed, they said, ‘I can’t believe this is my child!’ Follow Tendie here: IG: @tendai_chitima Facebook: Tendaiishe Chitima By Rhoda Molife


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire

Tendai Ryan Nguni

Photo Credit - Zash Chinhara


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire


endai Ryan Nguni is an award-winning musician known to many by his stage name Tehn Diamond/TEHN. Born and raised in Harare, Tendai is based in the Zimbabwean capital where he also runs a branding agency. In 2013 he was invited to perform his hit songs ‘Happy’ and ‘Grown Up’ on the Big Brother Africa stage. He’s also a founding member of the hip-hop collective Few Kings. Cook Off is Tendai’s feature film debut and several tracks from his solo album A Few Good Poems feature on the film’s soundtrack. You’re a rapper first. What inspired you to become one? I’ve always had a love affair with words. I listen to hip-hop much growing up but always wanted to be a songwriter. Rap kind of happened by accident whilst learning how to write better songs. One of my song writing books suggested an exercise that involved writing a rap verse. This was while I was studying finance in Australia. I did the exercise and soon after, I was hooked on the art form. The rest, I guess, is Zim hip-hop history now.

And what inspired the transition to acting? It wasn’t really an inspired transition. I’ve always wanted to act and grew up doing lots of theatre. It just so happens that a beautiful script came along and the team believed I would be right for the part. Is this your first acting role? Yes, it is. I’ve since gone on to do work with a TV show called Working Wives which I’m really looking forward to seeing come out. How did you get the part? I read for the role of Prince in 2016 which was a good year before we actually went into production. And then in 2017, once Joe (Njagu, producer) had come on board, I was told that I’d been chosen, and we were gonna start shooting. And so we did! Two of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as an actor are… … Long hours and cold nights. Otherwise it was a great experience. How did you overcome them?

Do you write your own rhymes and what inspires a good rhyme?

Lots of tea and lots of sadza.

Yes, I’ve always written for myself and others. Before anything else, I’m a writer. For me a good rhyme has to be balanced in truth, rhythm and flow. I’m very particular about the way a word feels in my mouth and the meaning it conveys. Words are precious to me.

It’s too soon to tell. In general, I’m on something of a creative sabbatical. So maybe time will tell which it is. For now, I’m not choosing - I’m chilling.

Acting or rapping? Which is winning?

One of your highlights of being a part of this film is…

Photo Credit - Zash Chinhara

… Seeing how proud my mother and father are of me being a part of this Netflix milestone. How has life changed for you since being a part of this film? It hasn’t really. Just more attention online. What are your thoughts on the Zimbabwean film industry and what do you hope Cook Off will do for it? Like any other creative industry, we lack structure and support. I hope Cook Off will inspire people to really go for their goals and see them through. If you weren’t a rapper/actor what would you do? This is hard for me to answer because I’ve made it a point to live out every single one of my hopes, dreams and passions in life so far. As we speak, I’ve been growing my strategic branding agency called Nice Life Brands & Consultancy. One thing I’m gonna do is write a book that preaches purpose for those in need of it. I’ve lived a blessed and full life so far, so whatever I do, I’d just want to be able to feel fulfilled and make my parents proud while they’re still around to see it. One of your favourite childhood memories is…


Photo Credit - Anel Wessels

HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire

Follow Tendai here:

… Road trips to Chirundu with my old man. We’d drive out there to meet with the Zambian side of the family, my mother’s side. I’d pretend he was Batman and I was Robin because despite not being a black Batmobile, his car was the fastest in the world as far as I cared. I was around seven years old then.

IG: @trnguni Facebook: Tendai Ryan Nguni By Rhoda Molife


Photo Credit - Zoe Flood

HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire

Eugene Zimbudzi 24

HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire

One thing you learnt whilst you were filming was…

I never thought I would be an actor, but here I am – even my family is still in shock.”

… Cooking breakfast, especially eggs benedict in hollandaise sauce, which I first learnt to cook on set.

Eugene Zimbudzi plays Tapiwa, the son of lead character Anesu. Now 14 years old, he was just 11 during the filming of Cook Off. He’s also a poet and commercial model. In fact, he’s since been selected to perform poetry at his school every Friday at assembly and he likes to use the art form to inspire other children at his school.

What inspired you to become an actor? After my mother encouraged me to do voiceovers and poetry, I started watching movies and practicing acting. I’ve always wanted to see myself on the big screen.

His dream was to watch himself in movies and Cook Off made that dream come true.

Your favourite things to watch on TV are…

You were 11 when the film was made and you’re now 14. How has life changed for you?

… The Avengers films and Black-ish – Black-ish because I like the poetry they use in the shows.

Ooh yes it has! I really have become known and I’ve realised that time moves fast, is precious and should be used wisely.

Your favourite actors are…

Have you done more acting since the film was shot?

What’s a typical day like for you now?

… Will Smith, Tom Holland and Scarlett Johansson. When I wake up, I bath, eat then do my online schooling. I might practice a poem or motivational speech. Then I go on Netflix – I like watching adventure and comedy films but I’m only allowed to watch two movies a day. These days I have to update my social media too!

No, but I have applied for some casting in South Africa and we’ll see what happens. What was it like filming and going to school? At first it was challenging but I got used to it and I managed to balance it.

A dream of yours you would like to see come true is…

Was playing Tapiwa your first film role? Yes, it was.

… To be in Hollywood feature movies someday just like Tongayi Chirisa and Danai Gurira.

The thing you liked most about Tapiwa was…

And finally, what’s one of your favourite quotes?

… The way he motivated his mother to join the cooking competition. I felt motherly love from Anesu and I loved it. The movie felt so real to me. I even miss my acting family.

‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it was stupid.’ I really like this quote because it inspires me to wake up every day with the mind of a genius. I believe I can do everything that I can put my mind to.

Your most memorable experience on the film was... … When Tapiwa was pretending to be the judge to Anesu. The other one was confronting Prince when he was taking Anesu for a date. I also enjoyed the food on set!

Follow Eugene here: IG: eugene14z By Rhoda Molife


Photo Credit - Zoe Flood

HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire

Jesesi Mungoshi 26

HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire


esesi Mungoshi, who plays Anesu’s loving Gogo, is a legendary figure in the Zimbabwean film world. She began acting in the 1980s and featured in several local television dramas. Then the 1991 film Neria – in which Jesesi played the lead role and for which she won the M-Net Award for Best Actress – made her a household name. She started her own independent film production house in 1994 which produced several documentaries including Camrada Presidente, based on the life and death of Mozambique’s first President, Samora Machel. It won the Best Documentary Award at the 2014 Zimbabwe International Film Festival and received a mention at the Dubai International Film Festival.

lost about 3kg during filming because I truly experienced the pain and suffering of widowhood. That’s when I first met the legendary Oliver Mtukudzi, one of the humblest people I have ever met. He played Neria’s brother in the film and was her strength. I bonded with the cast and crew and today I still consider them as family. Many have died now but they still hold a special place in my heart. How did you get the role in Cook Off? Joe Njagu visited my home and invited me to join them in uplifting our film community. I didn’t think twice about doing so because their approach was so different. The script was amusing, and I thought I should give it a try. The film was a true collaboration. It had no funds at all - we could not even call it a low budget film but the organisers were so professional.

Jesesi is a mother of five and matriarch of the creative Mungoshi family, as well as a Patron of the Charles and Jesesi Mungoshi Foundation (CJMF) - her late husband Charles Mungoshi was an award-winning writer. In 2017 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Great Zimbabwe University for her ‘contribution to the development of the country’s film industry’.

A highlight of being a part of this film was… … Working with the younger generation. Most of them were either still at school or not even born when I started in television! Just when you think the supposed industry is dying, you realise that we have enough talented young men and women capable of taking it to the next level.

Your inspiration to become an actress was… … I’ve always said that my husband was very instrumental in my becoming an actress. He was my inspiration. It didn’t matter whether acting was or wasn’t considered a profession for women in Africa. The thing is we were brought up to respect and afford our husbands their place in the home. When I got married, I expected my husband to lay down the rules because that’s what I’d been trained to expect, but he never did. He actually laughed when I told him about my expectations! That contributed to me becoming more independent. Of course, not everyone accepted it, especially when it came to the inlaws of our time. Mind you, women were not allowed to do a lot of things even on a national level. But we have evolved.

How has the Zimbabwean film industry changed over the years? It hasn’t been an easy road. But against the struggling economy, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and there is hope. Most films back in the ‘90s, a glorious era for film in Zimbabwe, were donor funded. When the economy collapsed, filmmaking was not spared, and we had a situation where films like Neria could only be spoken of in historical terms. However, this period presented a window for the younger generation to be more innovative and fight to make films from nothing, as you can see with Cook Off. So, I would say our film community is changing for the better. We are moving from depending on donor funding to depending on self and our talent. If filmmakers can continue to work as one making commercial films then more doors will be opened and soon filmmaking in Zimbabwe will become an industry.

The most important thing is to be dignified in all you do. Fight for want you want even if society says no. I was blessed to have an artistic husband like Charles. He had my back and sometimes had to fight on my behalf, because others felt a muroora - daughter-inlaw - shouldn’t be doing what I was doing.

What needs to happen to ensure Cook Off really changes the course of our film industry?

Your first acting role was…

I would say Cook Off has already done something and shown something that most filmmakers don’t do here, and that is to push harder in the marketing and distribution phase of the film project. After making a film, most of them start working on the next film. Meanwhile the last one is shoved in the closet or under the bed without proper marketing. Cook Off is a very good example of perseverance and persistence and can teach a lot of filmmakers to push beyond just making and premiering the film.

... I was among the pioneers of the first drama series to be screened on our national television station. And that was in 1985. I played a mother and that was the beginning of my career as an actress. With time I became very popular. Let’s talk about that incredible film, Neria. What are your best memories from that film? Here in Zimbabwe and the neighbouring countries, I’m strongly identified with the character I played in that film. Some do not even know my real name! The film had a tremendous impact. Thirty years later, it’s still talked about as if it has just been released. I will always treasure my memories on that project. I

Follow Jesesi Mungoshi here: IG: jesesimungoshi By Rhoda Molife


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire

Joe Njagu Photo Credit - Bongani Sebele


oe Njagu is a filmmaker who has worked as a writer, director and producer for over 14 years. He has co-produced and directed several films; Cook Off is his first feature film as lead producer. His directorial debut was Lobola in 2010 which paved the way for a new chapter of independent filmmaking in Zimbabwe. His next film, The Gentleman, won him Best Foreign Language Director at the American International Film Festival in 2012 and Best Film at the NAMAs, also in 2012. He has directed several other feature films, including Something Nice From London, Escape and The Letter. He runs Joe Njagu Films based out of Harare. Joe is a 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow, the flagship program of President Barack Obama’s Young African Leadership Initiative. In 2014 he was listed among the top 35 under 35 in Media in Africa by the non-profit Young Professionals in International Affairs.

What drew you to film production? Well, for me, I believe you’re born with that something. You’re born with a gift. You’re born with a calling. You’re born with something that you’re supposed to do. I was just born a storyteller and I found filmmaking as a way of bringing that out. So, it’s accepting and harnessing the gift to see how best to carry it through. If you weren’t a producer, you would be… Ah… well, here we don’t have a film industry. We’re trying to build one, so we end up wearing different caps. I hop between being a director, producer, writer, and sometimes cinematographer, merely by necessity. So, if I wasn’t a filmmaker… actually I don’t see myself doing anything but… I always laugh when people ask me this! I tell them that if I die and come back, I would still be a filmmaker. I love it. I feel it in


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire Photo Credit - Bongani Kumbula

my blood. How did you become part of the Cook Off Team? Well, I’ve known Tomas the writer and director for a very, very long time. Over the years, we talked about filmmaking, collaborating and the industry and what we could do. When he started writing Cook Off, one day, he took me and Rufaro (Kaseke, producer) to one side saying he wanted to show us something. The story was still in little outlines and he was running us through them. I thought, ‘Wow, he’s on to something. He’d share drafts with me, I’d comment, and we’d go back and forth until he had a final version of the script that he was happy with. So, I always knew about the story. Eventually we had a meeting and he told me, ‘Dude, I want to call your bluff. You’re always talking about collaborating. Here’s an opportunity. I want a producer.’ There was no need for a pitch as I knew all about it, but I did sleep over it as I know what it takes to make a film… and there was no budget. The beauty of it was that I’d just finished my Mandela Washington Fellowship where I was finding my purpose as a filmmaker; during that time, I was influenced by President Obama who had said something along the lines of ‘the image of Africa is in the hands of filmmakers’. Then in comes this story – a beautiful rom-com that portrays a positive picture of the country. That was a big factor for me to join the team. Next day we shook on it and it was, ‘Let’s do this!’

getting better and growing. It’s a new era now, a different ball game and we must get better. What’s been the greatest challenge for you? How did you deal with it? Finding my voice and my purpose. Realising how much a film can impact the world made me ask myself why I was doing what I was doing, and the challenge was answering that. How did I deal with it? As I walk the path, I learn. I remember when President Obama said to me that we need to change the world’s perception of Africa. He said, ‘If Africa’s image remains as it is, we will continue to aid Africa and not trade with Africa.’ That hit home for me. I realised that in what I was doing, I could contribute to painting a different picture of Africa.

What’s been a highlight of working on the film? Seeing something that I’d wished for and yearned for over the years… work! Yes, I know there’s no money and no structure, but I’m a firm believer that if you build what you want, all that will come. Seeing collaboration work so well has been the highlight for me.

And the greatest joy?

How has life changed for you in the last few months as a result of the film’s release?

Finding that with my purpose I can make a difference and have this voice for Africa.

I don’t think my life has changed but it feels good to get assurance that there is light and hope at the end of the tunnel. Seeing this whole progression and success and support in Zimbabwe and around the world is remarkable. I’ve been in the industry for 15, 16 years and this is a pat on the back to say keep going. Cook Off has been a springboard to build from and transform a film community to a film industry. So now the change has been seeing that this is possible.

One piece of advice for a young person who wants to do what you do is… If you want something, go get it. Period. Filmmaking is not easy; it’s blood, sweat and tears but if that is what you want, just go for it. How can ‘we’ use this opportunity with Cook Off to change the industry in Zimbabwe? For one, there’s no industry in Zimbabwe. So, we can use this to transform the community to an industry. Cook Off has shown that we can do it our way - the Cook Off way. That means though we don’t have money, we have each other, our values and we can collaborate. I hope we can springboard from this milestone. History has been made but the future starts right now!

Some highlights of your journey in film production are… … Shooting Lobola, my first feature in 2009 which was produced by Rufaro Kaseke. At that time, it was an attempt at reviving our industry. We did it with no budget and it was a success in its own right, as it gave us a new energy and drive. I then made The Gentleman in 2011 and with it won best director for a foreign language film at the American International Film Festival. Since then we’ve just kept pushing and learning with a lot of bumps, so it has been a journey. Cook Off has placed Zimbabwean art on an international stage and now it’s about how we continue

Follow Joe here: IG: joenjagu By Rhoda Molife


tomas Brickhill T

Photo Credit - Hannah Mentz

HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire

omas Brickhill is an experienced filmmaker with broadcast credits in directing, camera, lighting, sound and editing. He was the director of Zimbabwe’s hit TV show Battle of the Chefs and has also worked in film and television in the UK.

annoyed with me because anything they selected to watch I’d say I’d already seen it. (laughs) I just had that passion for movies and the idea of making my own movies was the dream.

Tomas managed the legendary Book Cafe, Zimbabwe’s premier arts venue. Prior to his management and programming roles there, he also ran its sister venue, the Mannenberg Jazz Club. As a musician, Tomas fronts the ground-breaking mbira-punk band Chikwata.263, which blends traditional Zimbabwean rhythms with the energy of punk rock – and which also features on the Cook Off soundtrack.

As a teenager I knew that I wanted to get into filmmaking, but I couldn’t see how that could happen. That was in the ‘90s and there wasn’t much opportunity to pursue that as a career. I went to university in the UK, where I studied film then worked in London in several different roles - lighting, sound, camera. I wanted to get all of those skills and polish up my CV before coming back to Zimbabwe and getting the ball rolling with making films. I’ve worked on TV shows, documentaries and short tilms but for me the love has always been feature films… movies. So, for me this is the moment to get into movies properly.

Where were you born? Where are you now based? I was actually born in London. My father was a ZIPRA (Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army) war vet and was in exile in the UK at that time. My family returned to Zimbabwe soon after independence, so I don’t really remember London. I’m based in Zimbabwe, but I move in between the UK and Zimbabwe especially as we think of fundraising for the next film. What inspired your journey into filmmaking? I think I’ve had a love of movies for a long time. When you love something you kind of want to get more involved in it. When I was a kid, I remember some of my friends would refuse to go to the video shop with me - you know back in the day of VHS and hiring movies. They’d get really irritated and

Share some of the journey up to Cook Off.

What’s the story behind Cook Off? How did the project come to being? I was working on the TV show Battle of The Chefs when the idea came to me. I started working on the movie script. So, the idea was inspired by the real TV show and the fact that there’s this great cooking show in Zim. And this was not generally how people from outside look at us in Zimbabwe – we’re nearly always associated with negative things. People don’t appreciate that there are things happening here and this was a chance to show that they do! You also have a part in the film too right? Had you acted before?


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire Yes! I play ‘JJ’. I have acted before, but it wasn’t something I’d planned. To be honest, I thought I would just have a small cameo. I especially didn’t want to have a major role in the film; as a director you have to give your full attention to what’s happening. When you’re an actor you have a different mindset where you’re focused on you and are consumed by the role. It’s hard to switch between the two.

How has life changed for you since being a part of this film?

How long did it take you to write the film?

What are your thoughts on the Zimbabwean film industry and what do you hope Cook Off will do for it?

I certainly get more friend requests! People want to collaborate. What’s really changed for me is that now I’m Tomas Brickhill, the filmmaker and before I was just Tomas that guy from that band Chikwata.263 and who used to run the Book Café.

I started writing a full year before we made the film. The first draft took about two months to complete. Scripts are rewritten several times because there are plot holes, scenes that don’t work, that sort of thing so you have to go back and fix them. I’d say it was the seventh draft that was the final version after about a year.

We don’t have one…yet. We want to build one though. Hopefully those outside Zimbabwe will see that we can make a high-quality product with talent in Zimbabwe and invest. It will be great if Cook Off can be that first step in rebuilding a real film industry.

Is this your first screenplay?

If you weren’t a director, you would be…

No this is about the third that I completed entirely. My first was at university – a space travel, sci-fi story. The second is more a horror film. There are others that I’ve started but not finished.

… Sad! (laughs) I guess I would still be a singer/guitarist, so I would still have avenues for my creativity. Stories are in me so maybe I would write novels or comics – I used to draw comics as a kid, and I’ve thought about it more recently. Maybe that’s what I would do!

What’s the toughest thing about directing? You have to balance. On the one hand, you have your own vision that must be clear and complete. You have to have the whole film in your head at all times during the shooting of your movie because everybody – the costume department, the art department, the actors – will come to you and ask you specific questions. You need to have the answers right there and then. The balancing part is that you are also working with other creatives and you have to work out how to incorporate their ideas. People will come out with good things and you want to be open and not shut everything down. At the end of the day you want to come out with the best possible product. You do have the final say but you need to be open.

What’s the dream? To take this journey much, much further. These are the big dreams – not about getting a bigger budget for the next film but about what will happen in ten years’ time. By that stage I hope we would have made a few more films that would have raised the bar again and again until we can make perhaps an epic film about the history of Zimbabwe. Like a Zimbabwean Braveheart. One of those ones that make people take notice. Or maybe back to the sci-fi ideas I worked on…And I think as filmmakers, we have to inspire the next generation so that their dreams are bigger than ours. In Africa generally we don’t think about the future, maybe we are scared to as we have a lot of issues in the present to deal with. But our stories tend to focus on what’s happened in the past or what’s happening now but I’d like to make films about the future… perhaps a futuristic Harare. That’s the dream - to take it as far as we can go.

And what’s the best thing? It’s those surprises! Sometimes you have a scene in your head and you’re not sure if it’s going to work. Then the actors come in and give an amazing performance and you lose yourself, get sucked in and you know it’s going to be a good scene. Not every scene will be a big moment, but those that are re-energise and inspire you. I think that’s the best thing.

Thank you! Thank you for this interview. Nice questions to make me think about my journey as a filmmaker and where I go from here.

Of course, when you set out to create something, you want it to be the best it can, but did you envisage this for Cook Off?

Tom – the pleasure has been ours! Your journey has shown that this is a thoroughly deserved moment and we appreciate you sharing it with us and our readers.

At the start, Joe (Njagu, producer) and I wanted it to be the best it could be. We wanted to raise the benchmark and set a new level for Zimbabwean cinema. So, we definitely put ourselves under pressure. We didn’t plan all that’s happened – Netflix, the awards. We wanted to do the best we could and at least make back the budget. As time went we set higher goals especially when we screened for the first time and saw the reaction. That’s when we were confident that we had achieved something of good quality.

Follow Tom here: IG: tomas_lutuli Facebook: Tomas Brickhill Twitter: @TomasLutuli By Rhoda Molife


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire

young mutapa

Anesu Gands


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire


nesu Gands, 25, a young carpenter, was named Integrity New Homes HIA South East Queensland (Australia) Apprentice of the Year in 2019. He moved from Zimbabwe to New Zealand at the age of seven with his family before moving to Brisbane, Australia at the age of 16. by Simba Harawa simba@houseofmutapa.com As a child, you wanted to be… A few things actually. At one stage I wanted to be a policeman, then an architect then a doctor. Now it’s construction. How did you handle the cultural shift having lived in 3 different countries? At first, it was unsettling. Even though I didn’t grow up kumusha with my grandparents and cousins, in the city the family mentality carried through even to the suburbs. I had awesome relationships even with people down the street. The western side of the world has more of an individualistic culture which was difficult to adjust to. Then there is the way Africans are perceived in general. People literally thought I would see lions every day! Being a minority meant it was difficult to find where to fit in exactly especially as you had to deal with racism and ignorance.

Anesu preparing driveway

ence and how it made you feel. After months of not being sure if I had made the right decision, it gave me a confidence boost as well as opened a new door of possibilities. Your two biggest challenges as an apprentice have been or are… Having to deal with the machismo culture that is a just bullyish mentality. The second challenge is having to deal with ignorance, whether it be about race or differences in opinion.

How does your family keep the Zimbabwean culture alive? I’m thankful that in Australia and New Zealand we had close family friends, so we almost formed little villages in a sense. Events and get-togethers were often filled with family friends, who I now refer to as uncles and aunties. I would watch my parents interact with them and through that be reminded of my roots.

How did you handle those challenges? In some cases, silence is golden. But where I felt that I was personally undermined or felt that it was intentional, I would speak to my boss as well as my parents to see if I was being reasonable and then confront the issue.

The Zimbabwean community in Brisbane is…

A critical piece of advice you’d give a budding entrepreneur or apprentice is…

… Quite a vibrant community. Like many other communities in the diaspora, we have the Zim pride and community events. We’ve managed to develop little clusters of families in a way as Brisbane is quite a big place. Weddings are often the times you see most of the Zimbabweans out in full swing.

Develop an attitude of optimism. It doesn’t mean you won’t have bad days, but it’s learning to see the good with the bad. Know that after the rain comes rainbows. After the fire comes the time to rebuild.

What inspired you to pursue carpentry? How did the journey start?

What was the best piece of advice you were ever given?

I realised that in my particular context in Australia, some of the most successful businesses are in trade. I had met a few carpenters and was intrigued, so I decided that I would like to someday build a business that creates generational wealth and also gives me the means to pursue other entrepreneurial ventures.

My father said to me once, “I don’t expect you to do what I do as a career or be like me. I want you to achieve and do even better.” He is a civil engineer so big shoes to fill! To a young Zimbabwean in Zimbabwe right now, you would say…

You were named Apprentice of The Year 2019 in South East Queensland. Tell us about that experi-

… Be open to the possibilities of life. You have a dream or a vision? Find a way to work towards it and


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire don’t forget those who were there with you. There is the awesome African proverb that says, ‘If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go together.’


And to a young Zimbabwean in the diaspora…

Drink lemon water, read my Bible and hit the gym.

… With all the opportunities granted to you, if you could do anything in this world with no limits and money wasn’t an issue, what would you do? Go get that. Just do it.

Three people, from any period in time or walk of life, whose brain you’d like to pick are…

What three things would you say to your younger self?

Follow Anesu Gands here:

… Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Abraham from the Bible. IG: anesu_gands Facebook: Anesu Gands LinkedIn: Anesu Gands

Photo Credit - Hia Industries

Try everything you can and then zone into a few things you love. Don’t worry so much about what others think especially those who are not invested in your life. Be accountable to yourself as well as

The first thing you do when you wake up is…


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire

Eugene Ulman Photography

Herbert Chitepo Avenue and Sacred Heart Cathedral, Harare


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire

Lessons From A Pandemic: We Must Not Lose Ourselves B


crucial and we must desperately hold on to it. We have to as it is what makes and defines us. When the world loses direction, we must pause and check our settings then purposely step into our lane.

Vonayi Nyamazana Going through the different emotions that accompanied the many phases of lockdown, I could feel myself losing control, drowning and desperately gasping for air. My world was spiralling out of control and as much as I tried, I could not stop the rollercoaster ride I found myself on. How did we even get here? In a split moment, the world had come to a standstill, gone into complete silence then shock before fear and panic broke out.

We’re living in uncertain times and may thus be tempted to run, to hide. However, when we know who we are, we will take up our position on the front line, plant our feet firmly and face the storm. Is it easy to do? Most definitely not, but it has to be done and it’s not impossible. How and where we position ourselves is crucial to who we are now and who we will be tomorrow. Let’s not be intimidated by what is going on around us. Let’s not abandon our race because if we do, we will be giving up on us. Let’s remain poised and positioned, our eyes firmly on our prize.

In those early days, I found myself unsure of what day it was - the days just seemed to merge into each other. I was in a continual state of confusion, sometimes not being sure of who I was and why I was here. There was a dark cloud hanging over my head. I often had to pinch myself back to reality because it became easy to hide away, in denial. There was dead silence outside. I would go to sleep, hoping that when I woke up, the world would have put itself the right way up. And when I woke, and it hadn’t, I’d go into a frenzy of ‘doing’… anything to keep myself busy and make it feel as if the world was indeed the right way up.

These are unprecedented times and such times are fertile for us to attain that which is also unprecedented. We can and must reach deep within ourselves to pull all the reserves within to attain what has been and remains set aside for us. As we stand firm, let’s continue to think and speak positively. Let’s hold our position and stay true to form.

When challenging and difficult times hit, we get blinded and can easily lose ourselves and our vision. When the world changes face, it’s easy to lose our direction and focus. When it all goes awry, it’s easy to forget who we are, what we stand for, meaning we end up being carried by the wind. Right now, our world has been turned upside down by a storm we never saw coming; a storm that has shut down all that was familiar; a storm that has taken apart the foundation upon which we based all on.

Let’s hold on to who we are. Let’s not lose ourselves. We are enough. Vonayi Nyamazana, also known as the Dreams Midwife, is the founder of Inspired Khaya, a platform dedicated to transforming lives for influence. Her mission is to inspire and empower other women to stretch themselves, to break down barriers and identify their God-given talents.

When we don’t know who we are, we will find ourselves going with the wind – and being carried away in that whirlwind. At such times, our identity is

Zimbabwean born, Vonayi is married and a mother to two young men.


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire

Photo Credit - Solomon Mashonganyika

Community Charity:

The Gogo Project T

he story of pandemics is the story of inequalities, and the poor and vulnerable are always the most affected. Tafadza Kadye and Fungai Marima write about how a community rallied around it’s most necessary and most vulnerable neighbours to turn the tables on a potentially devastating disruption of care with The Gogo Project. The Gogo Project started a couple of weeks after the COVID19 pandemic had forced many people in Zimbabwe into lockdown back in April. It is funded by the Zimbabwe Health Training Support Charity (ZHTS), a registered charity in the UK in collaboration with Global Health Dorcas. In the Zimbabwean context, the pandemic landed on an already existing economic disaster and the consequences of the lockdown meant a loss of income and employment for many - and even more so in communities such as the township of Mbare, where many do not hold formal employment. Here, as in many parts of our country, Gogos – grandmothers – are the sole guardians of their grandchildren. They can be responsible for an average of six and often up to ten children. Many of the children’s parents would have died or

migrated within the region. These Gogos can only raise money to feed their grandchildren by selling whatever goods they can, casually in the streets of Harare. With lockdown in place, this was impossible, and with no other way to source an income, buying food and essentials became, well, impossible. The constant financial worries they face also cause poor mental health and high blood pressure. As Zimbabweans in the diaspora, our hearts were moved by the stories that some of these grandmothers shared. We were told that one Gogo had been surviving on leaves, which she wasn’t even sure were safe to eat. As well as this, we recognised that women often hold the greatest burden in households and in times of crisis are at greater risk. So, we were compelled to help, and the Gogo Project, an innovative project borne out of the desire to support the most vulnerable in our communities was born to provide essentials and mental help support. What does the project do? At first, the aim was just to find these grandmothers who are based in Mbare and donate groceries to


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire support them through the pandemic. However, on closer analysis, it became apparent that the needs were much greater and we had to widen our reach. We called on the help of young people who had been part of mental health workshops that ZHTS had provided to support the project. This was key as being ‘Mbarians’, they knew the community well. It also gave them a great sense of ownership to participate in a project that was supporting their own community. With that, we were able to create a team of young community champions including four in Mbare as well as those of us in the UK.

also help us to identify families that need support; this is important because they know the community well. The project runs purely on donations. After each distribution we come together with feedback and repeat the cycle. We are constantly evaluating our work and impact. Many of the families that we have helped consistently told us that the support we provided them had made such a difference encouraging us to do more. Today we are supporting people in Zimbabwe and impacting vulnerable lives. What’s unique about what the young community champions do?

The community champions are a strong and diverse group of men and women whose interests lie in mental health awareness and support, community-based projects, social journalism, poetry, graphic design and skateboarding. Their individuality is what makes them champions who are keen on assisting their community in their own unique way.

They are the heartbeat of the project. As well as identifying those in need, they distribute food supplies, and provide hygiene and mental health support. We really try to buy most of our groceries from local suppliers to ensure that we support the local community; many of the suppliers are women. The champions are trained especially in gaining informed consent from the Gogos. The consent is developed in English and translated into Shona which they help us with. They also help with translations for all our mental health and COVID19 awareness materials. We are very honoured to work with young people who are so committed to supporting vulnerable communities.

How does the project work? It’s a real community effort with us young Zimbabweans in the diaspora and the community champions and counsellors in Mbare. In some ways, it’s fair to say that the project was initiated by the Gogos themselves because they demonstrated their courage and needs and Zimbabweans responded to that need.

They do this all with no pay, although we hope that with more funding we can pay them. We do however cover any extra expenses.

The community champions identify Gogos within their community who they feel will benefit from this project. Once identified, the Gogos are asked if they would like to receive a package of support and if so, will be given groceries, essentials and mental health awareness material on the next distribution day. Our project is supported by the local counsellors who

Who donates and who can donate? The Zimbabwean diaspora has been phenomenal in supporting this project but anyone can donate. We recently received a donation of groceries from our supporters in Zimbabwe, a donation from a Zimbabwean fashion designer and we have a crowdfunding platform that accepts monetary donations. Other donors have come from the US and UK. Most of our donors identify with Mbare for one reason or another. It is the heartbeat of Zimbabwe!

Gogo with a relief package

Will the project continue beyond the lockdown/ COVID19? Yes, absolutely this will continue beyond the pandemic. Pandemics come and go. Poverty and trauma don’t. Where can we donate? Donations can be made at the Just Giving crowdfunding platform on the link below:

Photo Credit - Maxwell Chembezi



Contact us here: Email: globalhealthdorcas@gmail.com Instagram: @globalhealthdorcasinitiative Twitter: @zambezi40 LinkedIn: Dorcas Gwata

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Community Champion Name: Kumbirai Mangwadu Age: 19 Lives in: Mbare Day Job: poet and motivational writer I joined the project right at the start and was motivated to be part of it as l’m very passionate about not just supporting my community but more so the elderly in my community. The one thing that I have seen the project do is bring hope and worth to them. This really moved me so much as it was a chance to create new relationships between our elders and young ones. The support is needed all year round, not only during the pandemic. A lot of grandmothers out there can’t work at all because of health problems or disability. One good thing about this project is that people can see that anyone can do charity work. People think that charity is done only by the whites and the rich people in Africa. That’s not really the reality because

anyone can dip into their own pockets and help the needy too. It depends on the heart of the person and the willingness to help out regardless of where they come from and their skin colour. The other thing is that the project has inspired me to write more, about what I see and who I meet. If I wasn’t part of the project l really do not think my skills would have grown so much. Few people are motivated to write in my community and maybe as more get to see my writings they may be inspired to do it themselves. The project also gives us young people a platform to show what we can do and what we can add to our community. This keeps us motivated and we can see a brighter future for us. As well as helping all these families, The Gogo Project is also helping us as young people to know more about the communities we live in as well as to find our space and comfort zone. For me the biggest thing is that it’s motivating me to keep on writing and to stay healthy too.


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire

Eugene Ulman Photography

Street musicians, Leopold Takawira Street, Harare


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire




HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire


al Angel is a serial entrepreneur with a background in mental health nursing, banking and media and started the online space, Zim Masterchef to celebrate Zimbabwean chefs. A mother of two, she emigrated to the UK at the age of 23. by Rodney Rumbidzai Chawota rodney@houseofmutapa.com How did you settle into life in the diaspora after your move here? I was lonely at first as I missed the family and friends I had left behind in Zimbabwe. But as time went, I settled down and now have a family of my own and a successful business career.

to let work spill into time with the kids, dinner and bedtime. Family is important to me. I try to be a good mum but what I’ve learnt (and what I’m still learning) is that all I can do is my best.

Tell us about your career and academic achievements.

How do you keep yourself motivated? I do things I’m passionate about. I love exercising and getting fit so I have just immersed myself in it. I do a lot of charity work but there is still a lot I need to do. I have a passion for the creative industry and at the moment I’m searching for new Zimbabwean talent. Music is one of my passions and I hope to work with rising Zim artists and secure funding for them.

In 2005 I acquired a BA Honours in Music and Visual Art followed by an MBA in 2009 and a BSc in Psychiatric Nursing in 2014. I’ve also published two research articles, both in 2009 - ‘Antecedents and Consequences of Consumer Confusion in the Financial Services Industry’, and ‘Consumer Choice Process for Impulsive Goods.’ I’ve worked primarily in the financial services with Lloyds Bank and American Express and in the healthcare sector. At American Express I was awarded for contributions that changed practice. My move in 2009 to work in the health sector was a calling for me as I believed God wanted me to work with the sick. I talk about this change in my book, Your Destiny is in Your Dreams. This is where I found purpose and fulfilment - working with the sick - a big difference from working in the banks, where it was all about stats and figures.

Who would you say are your role models? Michelle Obama as the first African-American First Lady of our time and Oprah Winfrey as one of the greatest black women in American history. How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you? It’s impacted the lives of millions of people around the globe, causing extraordinary disruption to the delivery of basic healthcare, economic activity and basic social interactions. That and the lockdown has made me appreciate my family, relatives and close friends even more.

Why Zim Masterchef? We wanted a platform to showcase Zimbabwean chefs in the diaspora who are underrepresented. We also wanted to showcase African food and show that it can be organic, wholesome and of a high standard.

What can we look forward to from you in the future? I’m working on building an athleisure-focused brand and Val Angel Productions, a film and TV company. The focus will be on building a platform that will accelerate some of the conversations of our generation focusing on mental health conversations. I produced and directed a documentary called I’m Not Normal, I’m Normal. It’s a short documentary that will show how most people have, had, or will have some mental health problems during their life. It raises awareness of this issue with the subsequent intention of trying to reduce the stigma associated with this condition.

You’re also a fitness advocate... After giving birth to my daughter Ava, I was 84kg and needed to shift the weight. It was very hard especially as I couldn’t resist food. When I realised that my health was suffering, I had to do something about it. So, I changed my diet, ditched the takeaways, embraced a low GI diet and started running. I train regularly, not just to keep in shape but to maintain a healthy mind too. I now weigh 66kg. How do you balance family life and everything else that you do?

Follow Val Angel here: IG: @valangelfit

I enjoy the hustle of being the producer, psyche practitioner, entrepreneur, fitness influencer and being a mum to Angel, 14 and Ava Marie, 2. I know I have to be careful not to take on too much. I try not

Facebook: Val Angel Twitter: @valnangel


HOUSE OF MUTAPA Striving To Inspire

Eugene Ulman Photography

Prince Edward High School Band with guest sax player Chiedza Muchena from Chisipite Senior School. If these high school students are any indication, the future of Zimbabwean music is in good hands


Profile for House Of Mutapa

House of Mutapa June 2020 Issue  

We celebrate and motivate Zimbabweans in the diaspora

House of Mutapa June 2020 Issue  

We celebrate and motivate Zimbabweans in the diaspora

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