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Inside/Out with Fungai James Tichawangana, proprietor ZimboJam
October 14, 2011

Full interview with Fungai James Tichawangana - Read and listen

Describe yourself in five words?
I love people, I'm enterprising and creative, I love the magic of a story and I'm driven.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
The mind is not a vessel to be filled but actually a fire to be ignited.

What's the most ridiculous thing you've ever done?
When I was at college, I broke up with my girlfriend . . . well actually she dumped me. So I made a big heart, and I wanted to paste it up on a wall where everyone could see it. So I climbed up a corridor next to the building and one of the guards saw me and thought I was trying to get into the girls hostel. It was late at night and they woke her, she was quite pissed off.

What is your most treasured possession?
My photographs.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
To not find love. To go through life believing that love is not possible.

Do you have any strange hobbies?
You know I'm always at functions taking photos, never actually involved, and people think I don't know how to have fun, but what they don't know is that when I put my camera down I do know how to let go. So what I like to do is put on loud music and just dance by myself.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
My spectacles.

What is your greatest extravagance?
I spend on technology, accessories for my camera and my computer.

What do you have in your fridge?
Why don't you take a look?

Interviewer: Ohmigosh! It's like you live here.

It's a survival tactic. When I started living alone, one of the things that fast disappeared was regular meals. So I'd miss breakfast and lunch then have a snack for supper. Then I decided that the one thing I could do was to always have breakfast, so I bought two sets of breakfast things. One for home and one for the office, so that if I miss it at home, I can still come here and have something.

What is your greatest fear?
To not contribute something significant. To have a wasted life. This really hit me when Shingi died. She contributed so much.

What have you got in your pockets right now?
My wallet, and change and dollars.

What is your favourite journey?
I love the drive to the Eastern Highlands.

Who are your heroes in real life?
I have heroes for different things. For photography my heroes are Jekesai, Annie Mpalume and Tsvangirai Mukwazhi. For media Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerburg. Locally I admire Garth Drummond of Classifieds and Webdev. In general all the amazing people who we get to do stories about and meet. Part of the tragedy of being in media is that it's almost impossible to capture something as it is when you meet someone.

When and where were you happiest?
2008, when I had been struggling to get a visa to go and see Shingi, and I finally got the visa and spent three months with her. It was the happiest three months of my life. Part of it was that there weren't the usual pressures of life. When you're a couple you're always running to make things happen, but that didn't happen there.

What is your biggest vice?
I work too much. I don't think I'm a workaholic, because I think workaholics work for working's sake. Whereas there are periods when something needs to be done and I have to focus on that and there are periods when I have lots of fun.

Interviewer: how to keep your work and you private life separate?

It's a bit difficult. But what I try to do is cover the event first then have fun, talk to people, network, share, have a drink . . . I try not to drink when I'm actually working. It's the clichéd thing about journalism . . . journalists cannot be sober. And I think it's important to set an example for other journalists, and show the team that I work with that we don't have to do it like that.

What were you like at school?
I was nerdy . . . I was the bright-eyed kid in class.

Interviewer: were you the one who sat in front and had your hand up all the time?

I wasn't in the front row, I used to be in the second or third row, because I was always a bit naughty. But I loved reading, and answering in class. I never understood why some kids knew the answer but didn't put their hand up.

What are you doing next?
I'm working on the Afrojam, it's the big sister to Zimbojam. Part of the reason is that I was at Shoko and heard Tumi and the Volume, who is an amazing artist. But kids in Africa don't know him. I feel that we need to create platforms to share stories about Africa, about what we do well, and the people who are good role models. So that African kids can think ‘wow I want to be like that.'

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