In this new series, Nehanda Radio shines a spotlight on the many talents and contributions of a diverse number of Zimbabweans who are flying the country’s flag in the diaspora. With estimates suggesting that over 3 million Zimbabweans are in the diaspora, just what are some of them doing. Let’s find out together.
By Lance Guma
In the first instalment we profiled Dr Ngoni Chirinda, a 39-year-old Zimbabwean who holds a PhD in Agroecology and is working as a Soil and Climate Change scientist in Colombia. Today we are in London speaking to Conrad Mwanza the founder and Executive Chairman of the Zimbabwe Achievers Awards (ZAA).
What started as a voyage into the unknown five years ago in 2011 has quickly morphed into one of the stand out red carpet events for Zimbabweans in the United Kingdom. Not only that, the awards have quickly spread to four countries with a significant population of Zimbabweans; the United Kingdom, South Africa, United States of America and Australia.
What inspired you to start the awards?
“Zimbabweans inspired me to start ZAA, there was a time in the UK when it was embarrassing to be known as Zimbabweans because of the country’s negative outlook, but I kept meeting very successful Zimbabweans in different sectors.
“I asked myself with my friend Shelly Cox to say despite all that negativity, what about those Zimbabweans making a positive contribution. Shouldn’t we highlight their efforts and hopefully inspire and show the rest of the world how great Zimbabweans can be.
“I once went to a Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) meeting and they also acknowledged that the Zimbabwean immigrants were one of the great contributors to UK in terms of being less dependent on social services and given the opportunity wanted to work, learn and pay their taxes. Zimbabweans in their pursuit of greatness inspired the ZAA.”
Your involvement with the ZAA has seen you meet some great people. Run down some of the great personalities you have met and spent time with?
“I have been fortunate to meet and interact with Econet founder Strive Masiyiwa and his wife Tsitsi Masiyiwa, Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi, Mama Thandi Modise, Hugh Masekela, Thokozani Khupe, Andy Flower, Shingai Shoniwa, Peter Ndlovu, Chi Mhende, Chipo Chung, Oliver Mtukudzi, Dorothy Masuku amongst many others.”
What do you do in your spare time?
“I love playing and watching tennis and golf and I support Arsenal. I love watching wildlife documentaries and spending time with my son.
If we were to make you Arsenal manager for a year. What sort of changes would you make to the team in terms of tactics and recruitment?
I admire Arsene Wenger’s business acumen. The man is a genius. But I would focus on our defensive midfield. And a much more proven goal scorer. A 20 goal-plus striker.”
Growing up, what career path did you crave and why?
“I’ve always wanted to be a businessman, from school I used to ask my mum to send me perfume and watches and I used to sell to my classmates. My Mum was in the UK. From Primary school age. I used to organise parties and events.
“And at High school I was chairman of the Conservative Club. Which organised Miss and Mr Nature at Eveline High school. At Polytechnic where I did my Marketing. I was one of the first people to own and sell cellphones. I used to go to South Africa to order mobile phones with my bursary and pocket money from Mum.”
What else do you do besides the ZAA’s
“I run a multi media company based in London and Johannesburg that does PR, advertising, Events, Talent Management and Production.”
Whats the most important thing in your life right now?
What’s in store for the future?
“This year we are launching ZAA Australia.”
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