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Inside/Out with lawyer & photographer Rudo Nyangulu of Stimulus & Being Humane
October 06, 2011

Full interview with Rudo Nyangulu - Read and listen

Describe yourself in five words?
I like to think of myself as a visionary and a humanist.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
Love people where they're at. That was told to me by my old pastor in England, Steve Marshall.

What is your most treasured possession?
My family, I'm a family girl. In terms of material things, it's my shoes. I have a very large shoe and hand bag collection that I'm not ashamed of. But family for me is the most irreplaceable thing, win or lose in life it doesn't matter because you have your family.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Feeling that your failure is greater than the love that God or other people can give, and then you force yourself into this self-imposed exile.

Do you have any strange hobbies?
I'll try anything once.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
The only thing I dislike about my appearance is occasionally how I come out in pictures. You know how the way you view yourself determines your confidence, and that in turn determines how people see you? Well I see myself, in my head, probably as this ok, kind of size 12-14, and then when someone comes and they're like, look I took this picture of you . . . and I'm like I don't look like that in my head. Delete! Delete! Maybe that's why I take pictures.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Shoes. I think I have seventy pairs of shoes. I love shoes, and occasionally if I find a matching handbag then yes!

What do you have in your fridge?
I have food that my mum cooked for me and sent home. She thinks that I don't cook, but for the record I'm a very good cook. I just don't need to cook, because I don't have a family and people to cook for. I find it boring to cook for myself.

What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is that I will become irrelevant. And what I mean by that is that my life's work will not have meaning in general. For me relevance is about people who you've never met who may not know your name being touched by what you've done.

What have you got in your pockets right now?
I don't have pockets. If I had a pocket it would have lip-gloss.

What is your favourite journey?
Home. Not the house where I live but going to my parents' house.

Who are your heroes in real life?
My parents, they're great. They advise me in everything. Stimulus started in a conversation with them. A lady called Rose Lomathinda Chibambo who was the first female cabinet minister in Malawi's first black government. She insisted on cooking for me when I went to visit her in Malawi.

What is your biggest vice?
Overly trusting people. Even when people let me down. I like to see the best in people and I think there's more than one version to any person.

What were you like at school?
I went to Roosevelt Girls High for Form One and Two. Growing up we spoke English because my dad's from Malawi and speaks Tumbuka, and my mum's Zimbabwean. So in school I was the girl called Rudo who could not speak Shona. It was painful. So after two years that were rough and tough, they moved me to Saint John's in Emerald Hill. I had my game face on, I was fifteen and I was like ‘I've just survived Roosevelt man, these people aren't taking me down without a fight!' So I would not talk to anyone. But everyone then assumed that I was all about me. What happened then was there was this boy that everyone had a crush on and he decided to date me. I eventually got to a point where I said ‘this is me, take me or leave me'. I made great friends at St John's and Roosevelt.

What are you doing next?
I'm going to hear Regina McCombs talk at the Harare Club.

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