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Inside/Out with thinker, activist and VMCZ director Takura Zhangazha
July 18, 2011

Full interview with Takura Zhangazha - Read and listen

Describe yourself in five words?
I'm a reader, I'm a thinker, occasionally I'm a leader and I'm generally my mother's boy.

Interviewer: What are you reading?

At the moment I'm reading War Veterans in Zimbabwe's Revolution by Zvakanyorwa Wilbert Sadomba. It positions war veterans as key to a revolutionary Zimbabwe. Particularly in about 2000 it says they independently put Mugabe under pressure and therefore they were a critical actor towards a revolutionary Zimbabwe. It gives a history of the Zimbabwe People's Army, ZIPRA, ZANLA and so on.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
To study political science.

Interviewer: Why?

Because I was considered a person who is somewhat disposed towards political issues.

Interviewer: Would you say you're anti-establishment in general?

I'm anti-imprisoning norms and values that make existence too regular. I'm anti regularity that is oppressive

What's the most ridiculous thing you've ever done?
I ran for president of the SRC at the University of Zimbabwe. It was interesting because my background was not typical of a potential SRC president. I was from St Ignatius college, my accent betrayed what was somewhat viewed as an elite education. It was ridiculous in the sense of being shocking.

What is your most treasured possession?

Interviewer: Do you have a favourite one?

Yes it's a collection of Amilcar Cabral's writings and speeches.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Not having a book, and not being able to learn by way of formal education or through process.

Do you have any strange hobbies?
No, I don't have any particularly strange hobbies.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
My face is a bit long, it sort of juts out in photographs, that's why I sometimes keep a beard.

What is your greatest extravagance?
I think not having a family at the moment is something that I've been extravagant about.

Interviewer: Do feel the desire?

To have offspring yes, naturally I feel that desire. My only worry is the circumstances in which such a comrade would be born and the responsibilities that come with it ... the fragility of our social service system and our employment in the NGO world is not a certain, as say, a teaching job.

What do you have in your fridge?
I had a couple of beers yesterday, some bacon, polony, eggs meat, a long-suffering apple and four cans of coke.

What is your greatest fear?
Death, but not just for its own sake. Death without achieving everything that's in my head.

Interviewer: What do you hope to achieve in this lifetime?

At least to leave some written documentation or physical act that improves people's lives and passes on knowledge from one generation to another. At least.

What have you got in your pockets right now?
Keys, I'm not going to mention the other thing because my mother would kill me. My wallet and remote controls.

What is your favourite journey?
The journey to my rural home in Bikita. I was born there. It's about origin. Our history is not that long as a family, neither is our interaction with modern existence as a country; so going to Bikita is a reminder of the same. You realise that as I'm standing here, 30 years ago my grandfather was standing here, a hundred years ago my great-grandfather was standing here or arriving from another region and a hundred and ten to a hundred and twenty years ago the pioneer column was arriving, and our forefathers and foremothers were laughing at people without knees. But it's only a hundred and twenty years ago.

Who are your heroes in real life?
The people that taught me to think. There's Father Andrews Tachycara at St Ignatius. He used to teach us religious studies and General Paper and Masipula Sithole at the University of Zimbabwe - he taught us Zimbabwe politics. Dr Kambudzi who taught Philosophy and Theories in Change and Development, which made us become thinkers. People used to avoid that course, but wow! That's when I got introduced to a much more critical understanding of the Federalist Papers, a lot of John Stuart Mill ... Oh! And my mother. Without a doubt. Personally and in terms of staying the course, yes my mother.

When and where were you happiest?
In terms of my activism, when we won the no vote in 2000. I was the chairperson of the NCA youth assembly.

What is your biggest vice?
Well if you ask my mum she thinks I go to the Quill too much and argue too much and drink too much while I'm there. I can be very dismissive. If I can immediately see the direction and I see that I'm not going to agree with it I don't wait to hear the argument.

What were you like at school?
I was a very decent young student; I became head boy at St Ignatius. I was a very play by the rules sort of person, to the extent that a lot of my colleagues from High School were shocked that I became SRC president.

What are you doing next?
I'm beginning to think about the broader political questions, and bringing government to account, dealing much more purposefully with the Zimbabwean People's Charter. Ensuring that there is the sort of understanding on the part of the Zimbabwean populace on the issues of importance that should be non-negotiable and which shouldn't be subject to partisan interests.

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