THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector


Back to Index

Inside/Out with Sydney Chisi, Founder/ Director of Youth in Democracy Initiative of Zimbabwe (YIDEZ)
November 10, 2010

Full interview with Sydney Chisi - Read and listen

Describe yourself in five words?
Laid back, very conservative, good listener and articulate.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
I got it form my mum: if you want to do something and your heart skips a beat, then you know that it's wrong.

What's the most ridiculous thing you've ever done?
On my first date with my childhood sweetheart, her mother invited me to lunch. I spilled a glass of drink onto her mother's lap.

What is your most treasured possession?
My daughter, she looks exactly like my mum. If there's anything beautiful that has happened to me in life, I think it's my daughter.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Being undermined for your beliefs. People demonise you, when you see the right everyone sees the wrong. When you try to fight, you find yourself alone in your own corner. When you win people don't celebrate with you, and when you lose people remind you that ‘we told you so'.

Interviewer: Don't you think Mugabe feels that way?

I think so! But whatever Mugabe's inner feelings are, it's only him who knows. I think he has become a victim of the people who are around him. Like the rumour that we heard, and it remains a rumour, that in 2008 he considered leaving, but certain people came and said ‘no we will not take this, leave it to us, this is now our process.' You really feel sorry for the old man. This time around he's got a sister who's passed away, another in the hospital, he's got a nation to run, the Gono rumours. It becomes so much for an old man. You can see that he's the only man in his corner. The people who are pushing him to continue fighting, they got other interests which are not his interests.

Interviewer: Do you think he's a victim of his position?

He is. He had the opportunity to let go. I always say that in 2002 if Mugabe had let go of power to Simba Makoni, today we would not be talking about Morgan Tsvangirai.

Do you have any strange hobbies?
I used to play tennis on my own. I'd go to the University of Zimbabwe courts, and hit the ball against the boards.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
I don't like my spectacles because many people assume that people who wear spectacles are intelligent. But now they look up to me and they don't find even a string of intelligence.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Caps and trainers

What have you got in your fridge?
Redbull, fruit juice, yoghurt, grapes and strawberries.

What is your greatest fear?
I would want at some point, even from my grave, Zimbabwe changing from the way it is. But also my greatest fear is to lose trust in the people around me.

What have you got in your pockets right now?

What is your favourite journey?
My academic journey. I think it's been an interesting one. I don't think I was an extra intelligent young person. I thrived on hard work. That hard work led me to admire my uncle who was a geologist and I always wanted to be a geologist, which I did when I went to University. I'm a qualified geologist, but then something happened on the way to Damascus. For me it has been an interesting journey, because I then discovered the real me.

Who are your heroes in real life?
I have a good friend who is also my hero. We come from similar backgrounds, struggling peasant parents, siblings who are not there and you are a lone figure in your community. When I look at him, I see that a lot of people depend on him, and he has to balance his life with his family, his work and his community. For me beyond just being a good friend, he's become my role model and he'll always be my hero.

What's your biggest vice?
I show what I feel instead of saying what I think. I think I hate hurting people so half the time I bottle things up. I think this has become my weakness. Along the way I've missed opportunities because I don't say things.

What were you like at school?
Naughty. I used to do sports. I don't think I was intelligent. I was a hard worker. So I wouldn't dare mess up school. I was the sweetheart of teachers.

What are you doing next?
I will be leaving YIDEZ, maybe not in the immediate future, but with what we have done so far, we have established a strong foundation. I don't want to fall in the trap of the founder member syndrome. I want people to look at YIDEZ as an institution not as Sydney's organisation.

Visit the fact sheet

Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.