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with Wadzanai Motsi, Thomas J. Watson Fellow, activist and book
October 28, 2013
yourself in five words?
Stubborn, hard working, talkative, thinker and passionate.
is your most treasured possession?
My most treasured possession is whatever book I’m reading.
At the moment I’m reading The Grapes of Wrath. Last week I
was reading a book by Francine Rivers and the week before I was
reading Paulo Coelho.
do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Not knowing what I’m doing and failing to have some direction.
have any strange hobbies?
Mine are pretty generic hobbies. I like taking walks, reading, singing
and watching TV.
is your greatest extravagance?
Buying a pair of shoes for US$60.00 in the US while I was still
is your greatest fear?
Losing the people I love either through death or ending relationships
is your favorite journey?
The one I took last year with a friend of mine when we went to southern
Egypt. We visited the Red Sea cities but went further down to a
place called Hurghada and it was so quiet and beautiful.
were you like at school?
I was very involved and I did a lot of different activities at school.
and where were you happiest?
When I graduated from college of course!
consider yourself an activist? And why?
I have been developing a consciousness for activism for years now
but I’m still trying to decide if I’m an activist on
not. According to my own definition, yes I am an activist but have
I done something active - I’m not entirely sure about that.
While still in high school I worked with Interact and at college
I joined lot of different groups. The University I went to had a
strong ethos of community service. I would be very unhappy if I
was living just for myself and not for a bigger purpose.
type of social problems do you work on? Why do you think they are
I’m passionate about governance and looking at how we can
get the average citizen involved in governance issues - particularly
women. I think there are structures lacking in involving an average
person in decision-making. I believe the more you consult people
the more ideas you get.
are some of the approaches and methods you use in your work?
Just having conversations is a good start. I think that is where
most learning takes place. I enjoy engaging people in conversation
and sharing experiences and ideas on how to address certain challenges.
are some of the challenges you face in your work?
For me the hardest challenge is about finding my place.
can you young people of Zimbabwe take effective action for change
in the community?
Well I’m impressed but also distressed with young people in
Zimbabwe. I’m impressed because the situation that we are
facing in Zimbabwe as young people is not normal, but young people
still find ways to make things happen for themselves and go to work.
It takes a lot of initiative and intelligence but on the flip side
that consciousness is very limited to focusing on todays needs,
forgetting about tomorrow or thinking about a vision 10 years on.
From my perspective, as a young person, I think we need more examples
of people who are aren’t only making money but also doing
something constructive, for example the Econet business model. We
need these people to mentor and transfer knowledge to young people
us about your experience as a Thomas J. Watson Fellow
I learnt about the fellowship during my first year at Grinnell College
in the United States of America. The college I went to nominates
four people for the fellowship every year and its based on random
criteria. You propose a project and state why you are passionate
about it. And my project was on “Motivation for youth political
activism”. The experience in itself was a lot harder than
I expected it to be because it took a lot out of me. I had to make
travel arrangements by myself and adapt to the new environment in
a foreign land where you don’t speak the language but I am
glad I did it. I have traveled to so many countries, which include
Cambodia, the Czech Republic, and in Africa I went to Tunisia, Egypt
and Ghana. One thing I noted though in these countries is that there
is this glass ceiling, which still exists in terms of women’s
participation and involvement in leadership and holding positions
of power. That’s the reason why I shifted focus from being
a development focused person to being more interested in women in
governance and trying to advocate for that.
do you intend to do with this experience?
At the moment I’m really just taking it one day at a time.
This experience kind of pulled me in all sorts of different directions
so I’m intentionally trying not to package it. I’m using
some of this experience in my day-to-day work and I am also following
my passions and hoping that whatever I have learned will be sufficient
to carry me forward.
are your heroes in real life?
My dad is definitely a hero and my mother as well. And also this
past year I have met some phenomenal people like this young black
Tunisian woman who really inspired me. I believe there is something
to be learned from every experience I have and every person I meet.
are you doing next?
Right now I’m volunteering with Zimbabwe Young Women’s
Network for Peace Building. After that I’m working on a social
responsibility project. I am passionate about Africans developing
Africans rather having someone coming in to help us. I’m also
trying to see how businesses can become more socially responsible
in their practices.
I would love
to keep the conversation going especially through social media.
I am available on twitter: @MissWadzi,
email wadzi.motsi [at] gmail [dot] com and you can read my blog
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