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You can overcome anything - Interview with activist and Gospel singer Nyaradzo Mashayamombe
Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa,
March 09, 2012

Read Inside/Out with Nyaradzo Mashayamombe

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Nyaradzo MashayamombeGospel artist, Nyaradzo Mashayamombe took a bold move to mix her stage and studio adventures with charity work. She founded an organisation called Tag A Life International, which mainly focuses on boosting confidence in young girls, especially those in the rural areas as they lack exposure to many modern developments. Having grown up in the rural areas Nyaradzo draws from her childhood experiences in carrying out her work with Tag A Life.

How did you grow up?
I grew up without a father. My dad died when I was six months in my mum's womb so I'm the last born in my house. I grew up in the rural areas. My mum was striving to send all of us to school. Some of my sisters and brothers were now working and some were helping my mother out. I went to school in the rural areas. In Form One I had an opportunity to attend Kwekwe High school and then I returned kumusha for Forms 2 onwards. Growing up wasn't very rosy. Then when most of my siblings began to work things started to improve at home. We were blessed in that everyone tried to take care of everyone. Mum took care of people and as soon as someone could help out they took responsibility. We grew up knowing God. Listen

How has your upbringing shaped who you are especially with your work with TaLi?
My mother was a great woman who didn't impose things on us but taught us the way. She taught us to make good decisions for ourselves. I think it also took a lot of prayer. That has shaped me as an individual, that even as I'm doing Tag A Life, it's not easy, sometimes it's scary once in while. But knowing where we have come from and knowing how God has been with us give me the strength. I think my spirituality and the hardships that I had to overcome built me. I can endure, and it's only God who moves me.

You did an interview a few years ago with Kubatana and you were a gospel musician then. Do you still sing?
I do sing, it's now music and Tag A Life. Then I was part time into music and I had begun to write a little about women's and children's issues. Now I write a lot. Recently I wrote and composed a song featuring Chiwoniso Maraire that will be featured in Tag A Life's campaign against Child Abuse. For me now its music and Tag A Life, those two go hand in hand. I've had massive breakthroughs because of music. Where I would have just begun as a child activist, music has given me so much acceleration that I get to places where it would have taken me ten or fifteen years to reach. Music makes it easier for me to access media or communities and even high offices.

What inspired you to found TaLi?
Looking back really, I'd say everything about my life was meant to found TaLi. I was launching Tag A Life at Rusununguko last year, and God orchestrated that when I had finished my presentation one of my former teachers gave a testimony that when I was in Form Three he tried to have a relationship with me. There is so much that happens in rural schools with teachers going out with students. I took the letter he wrote to me to the school head who called in that teacher and put the letter in his book. That teacher shared that testimony with everyone at the school. I was shocked and I had forgotten about. As I was growing up in the communities I saw a lot of inequality, cultural issues that suppressed the girl child, patriarchal issues that suppress the girl child and I became an activist at a young age. But I had to go the journey of learning how an organisation works, because I have worked a lot for other organisations, corporates and NGOs. I realised that I was going to start an initiative in 2004/3. Listen

What would you say are the biggest issues faced by girls in rural communities?
I would say that one of the biggest issues that girls face is being looked down upon. And harassment. It's those little things that we think we should ignore. Like when a girl is walking down the street and boys are on the corner heckling her; that is torturing. In the family set up with the household chores girls have to endure, and they don't have time to study. They are groomed to be housewives from a tender age. We are raising boys who are macho, but whom we are actually grooming to be the perpetrators of violence against girls. In schools teachers are still telling girls that only boys can do sciences. It's at such a tender age where girls are socialised like that, that you can amount to nothing or are created to be an item to viewed, you are created to be good to your husband. Listen

What are you doing with Tag a Life to address those challenges?
We are operating in Shurugwi, running clubs in schools that include boys and girls. They are mentorship clubs and they are capacity building in terms of inspiration where we say that girls who have been taught that they can be anything. They are taught about overcoming their fears and limitations. We also run programmes where we send people to the clubs to talk to girls. I believe that my life is testimony that you can overcome anything. To say if I came from nothing to being a musician and run an organisation that is successful, surely other girls can do it? They can read about my story and they can do anything.

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Audio Files

  • Growing up
    Language: English
    Duration: 1min 11sec
    Date: March 09, 2012
    File Type: MP3
    Size: 1.08MB

  • Inspiration for TaLi
    Language: English
    Duration: 1min 42sec
    Date: March 09, 2012
    File Type: MP3
    Size: 1.56MB

  • Challenges faced by the girl child
    Language: English
    Duration: 1min 17sec
    Date: March 09, 2012
    File Type: MP3
    Size: 1.17MB

  • Activities of Tag a Life
    Language: English
    Duration: 47sec
    Date: March 09, 2012
    File Type: MP3
    Size: 738KB

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