By Tafadzwa Zimoyo
Who still remembers the popular United States “grandpa bae” Irvine Randle, who caused a stir in 2016 with his pictures because of stylish sense.
The trend has earned him the title “#MrStealYourGrandma”.
Five years later, Zimbabwe has born its own social media sensation.
Meet the octogenarian (Mwendaz_ weDrip) Mwendamberi, who is no ordinary grandpa that you would meet in the ghetto.
Age-wise, he represents the older generations while his sense of fashion keeps him younger than ever.
Unlike most of his peers looking rugged and worn out with ageing, the cotton-haired Mwendamberi has been competing with ghetto “yutes” when it comes to the latest robs rocking on the streets.
Not only has the 82-year-old become a darling of many on social media, he has managed to break the internet with his penchant for trending clothes.
So appealing is Mwendamberi’s fashion sense that he has become a hit with many people who are now scrambling for his signature.
Fashionistas too have not been left out as they want to be associated with Mwendamberi, who is now rocking Shumba Fashions robes.
With all the instant fame that he has garnered in the shortest space of time, the Mufakose-bred and born internet sensation continue to win hearts of many on social media.
With many curious to know who this grandpa is, our publication interviewed to the outspoken grandpa who feels more connected to the youths than most of his generations.
But who is Mwendamberi after all? Is he competing with the youths for prominence? What is driving him to do all those stunts which have made him an attention grabber in the first half of 2021?
“My full name is Campion Tichaona Jani,” he says.
“I was born on November 28, 1938. I was the only child. My mother was divorced when I was young. She left my father after the messy divorce and remarried and started a new family with another man and that’s how best I knew her.”
Growing up in the then Rhodesia, Mwendamberi dropped from school along the way after his guardians failed to raise fees.
“I did my primary education up to Standard 6 at Tsungayi in Highfield,” he says.
“Infact, I had started my primary education at Mbizi, but we were all transferred to Tsungayi at the height of the liberation struggle.
“I then enrolled at Musami High School in Mashonaland East but dropped out of school in the year 1956 after failing to raise school fees.
“It meant that I had to do something to sustain myself and I ended up as a bus driver.”
Prior to him becoming a bus driver at Matambanadzo Bus Services, Mwendamberi had worked as a casual worker at a clothing firm.
“I started working in the year 1958 after finishing school,” he says.
“At first, I worked at some companies where I was responsible for packing clothes.
“I later became a qualified bus driver in 1962 when I got my drivers licence. I worked as a bus driver for so many companies including Matambanadzo Bus Company where I became popular.
“I also upgraded myself as a motor mechanic journeyman while still working at Matambanadzo Bus Company, I’m still a motor mechanic, I have a certificate.”
Despite all the fame he accrued, Mwendamberi still stays in Mufakose.
“I stay in Mufakose with my wife and grandchildren,” he says.
“I joined social media three years ago. I like dressing like a youth so that I lure them closer to me so that I can give them wise advice as well.
“I am dressed by Shumba Fashions and my neighbours are happy with me because I am looking after their children.
Mwendamberi likes listening to gospel music when he is at home.
Family wise, he explains: “I am a father of seven boys — four died, three are left. I am married to Eneresi after the death of my first wife Nokuthula.
“I have 21 grandchildren. To keep fit, I do a lot of gardening and my own regret right now is drinking beer and smoking cigarettes — hazvipe hunhu.”
Mwendamberi still has sad memories of the liberation struggle as a bus driver when his life was at stake.
“I used to ply many regional routes and that had landmines and I was lucky that my bus wasn’t affected,” he says.
“The only bus driver who was killed was the one that I alternated with on the same route and God saved me.”
Mwendamberi still has many wishes.
“My wish is to see youngsters leaving drugs, ngavatendeuke vasiye zvinodhaka zvese,” he says.
Despite all the fame he has, it is yet to transform into fortune.
“I was contracted by Zim celebs to boost their pages, but the payment is not yet as good as I expected since they started using my image,” he says.
“At first, they gave me US$40, then US$20 and later US$10 which is still little, but its better than nothing.” The Herald