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with Sydney Chisi, Founder/ Director of Youth in Democracy Initiative
of Zimbabwe (YIDEZ)
November 10, 2010
with Sydney Chisi - Read
yourself in five words?
Laid back, very conservative, good listener and articulate.
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.
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
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
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'.
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.
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
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.
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.
is your greatest extravagance?
Caps and trainers
have you got in your fridge?
Redbull, fruit juice, yoghurt, grapes and strawberries.
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.
have you got in your pockets right now?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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