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Inside/Out with writer and thinker Professor Mandivamba Rukuni
March 22, 2010

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Describe yourself in five words?
I'm a storyteller; I'm also an author, scholar and a development consultant.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
To always think positively and know that everything that I do is what I eventually decide to do for myself, so I shouldn't blame or explain away my insufficiencies.

What's the most ridiculous thing you've ever done?
There are so many. I remember a time when I was very infatuated with being educated, when I got my first degree. And my uncle, my mother's brother, asked me who was cleverer between my father and myself. I made the mistake of thinking about it and I said . . . 'erm'. He stopped me right there and said, ‘No, don't go any further you are already lost. Your father may not have a university degree like you, but he is infinitely more clever and wiser than you. Even for you to get your degree, was his wisdom.'

What is your most treasured possession?
My health.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Losing confidence in yourself. It doesn't matter who you are, never lose your dignity.

Do you have any strange hobbies?
It's not a strange hobby, but I really like to watch boxing.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
The way I dress. It has improved. When I turned 50 I started making an effort. You should have seen me before. I hated putting on a tie; I only had two suits, one inherited from my father.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Airtime. I phone a lot. I inherited that from my late dad.

What have you got in your fridge?
Not much actually. Cheese and traditional snack foods like nyimo, chibage, nzungu.

What is your greatest fear?
Losing my health; everything I do depends on good health. Particularly my mental health. I try hard to live in a healthy way, but you can't guarantee anything in life.

What have you got in your pockets right now?
I've got a wallet with nothing in it. My cell phone and my car keys.

What is your favourite journey?
I have two; one is when I drive to my traditional home in Masvingo. I live pretty close to Great Zimbabwe. I feel really inspired when I'm there. The second is to the Eastern Highlands, it's also very inspiring for me.

Who are your heroes in real life?
My mother and father. My mother is very hard working, and she is very strict, frugal, a tough supervisor/manager. My father was the exact opposite. He was a visionary in life; he always had big dreams for everybody, even his relatives. And he was generous to a fault.

When and where were you happiest?
I recall a time when I was a young adult with all of the freedoms and without the responsibilities.

What's your biggest vice?
Why do you want to call it a vice?

What were you like at school?
I was the youngest. I performed better than most in my classes. Not because I was the best but because I was younger. I was also very quiet. I had lots of friends, but I preferred my own company most of the time. I listened to music a lot.

What are you doing next?
There are a number of things that I'm working on right now. I stopped academic book writing, and in 2007 I started my non-fiction writing, with Being Afrikan. Then I also wrote Leading Afrika. These two books are going to be reissued by Penguin Books. I'm just completing my third book on love, sex and relationships. I'm also establishing a leadership academy here. I'm working on a Barefoot University, it's for anyone who wishes to study to university level, and you don't need any formal qualifications. It will use a peer learning approach. Finally I'm assisting the government with the Land Reform and recovery of our agriculture and the economy.

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