Hello dear reader, welcome back to my blog. If you’re new here thank you for passing by, and please scroll down to catch up on the previous issues. As promised in a previous article on Stories of Innovation , I promised to write about efforts to fuel innovation and talk about The Falling Walls Lab, “The global interdisciplinary competition for students and early-career professionals.”
The Falling Walls Lab is an integrative world class pitching competition that seeks to bring together a richly diverse group of students, researchers and early career professionals by presenting an opportunity to share their innovative breakthrough ideas in three minutes. The Falling Walls Lab provides a platform for networking with passionate innovators from around the globe, and a platform to showcase and collaborate on ideas that positively impact communities. The lab coming to Zimbabwe presents an opportunity to launch Zimbabwe in the innovation space and showcase the talent and potential that the country possesses. It is open to all fields, and all types of research; you sure do not want to miss it.
The competition process and requirements are pretty simple. As mentioned earlier, it is open to all students, researchers and early career professionals, and all you have to do is to present your breakthrough idea to an expert jury in three minutes; how about that? By doing so, you stand a chance to win an opportunity of a lifetime and be a part of the Global Finale in Berlin Germany. This also presents an opportunity to be part of the global network of innovators.
Dates and Deadlines
The deadline for applications is 15 July 2022. The event will take place at the Stanbic Incubator Hub in Harare. Attendance is free, and even if you do not wish to participate attending the event is highly recommended. To apply click here , and be a part of the upcoming innovation event on 5 August 2022.
Hi there. I hope you’re doing well. We’re wrapping up the month of June and the #WinterABC2022. If you’re new to my blog, thank you so much for passing by please be sure to scroll down and catch up on the previous issues. This week is Stories of Innovation. I’m not sure how gong to tackle this, but what I know is that this topic is interesting especially when viewed with Africa and our place as far as innovation is concerned. I have a lot more questions than answers.
Innovation is vast, it’s literally not one thing and I doubt if we can fully define what it is at the core. The fortunate thing is that we know what it does. It is basically what fuels daily human life as we know it. Ever evolving, coming up with better ways of doing things that make interfacing with the world a lot more easier and interesting. While seemingly insignificant, looking at our past induces an appreciation for innovation and creativity. Most of the “luxuries” we enjoy were actually discoveries by past humans and I don’t think we appreciate that enough on a large scale. I’m thinking if we did, perhaps three quarters of the population would be focused inventing the future because the experience we currently have can not possibly be all that the human mind is capable of. If anything the future is even more interesting because you have people outdoing their creative self in every aspect, thinking outside the box to provide solutions to problems or simply making optimal use of their creativity to create new technologies all around the fields. In all this, I wonder where as a continent (down to a country, community etc) we stand in 1. Contributing to these changes 2. Accepting these changes 3. Being a part of the greater movement.
One of the many fundamental aspects to innovation is problem solving. That is essentially the fulcrum of most successful innovations. Classic examples include automobile pioneers like Carl Benz, Henry Ford and Co. In trying to come up with effective modes of transport, they came up with cars, and then came extensions and filling in of gaps through creating models suited for different conditions, perhaps proof that no single idea is perfect but instead open to further alterations and improvements, another avenue wherein innovation thrives. In a way, larger parts of Africa and African communities remain severely disconnected from the move both as contributors and as beneficiaries to the continuing waves of Innovation. Of course, there are some global challenges and some local that have been solved by existing technologies, a significant percentage of the populations having access to these innovations. However, there are certain challenges, some even accepted as way of life, and some “unsolvable” as a result of finance that are unique to African countries on the whole. For unique problems we need unique solutions. Besides, in this race no one checks on the kids lagging behind, and so for the most part it is on us to think up solutions to the multitudes of challenges we face. From adopting new technologies, to making existing systems efficient, to coming up with technological solutions to undemocratic elections. We’re thinking sustainable solutions perhaps to things like the power and water supply crisis. These present avenues for innovative solutions. With all this, I refuse to believe that ideas are lacking, but rather there are a plethora of hindrances which include capital, corruption (which results in resistance by authorities).
Innovation seeks to upset balance, or rather introduce a new balance to be set. It’s quite unfortunate that for the most part we exist in an environment that is resistant to innovation. Generally people struggle with letting the old ways go, and accepting the new. It’s like one time on social media when LLB Twitter was under attack after an individual advised interns to desist from using emails in job seeking but rather show up in person at the chambers. For the greater part, that is evidence of how the mindsets of those manning most systems in Zimbabwe function. There’s this casual resistance to new ways of doing things, wishing to stick to the old and familiar. You realize that in an world that’s on a fast track in terms of technological development we are terribly lagging behind. Changing ways of doing things means disrupting systems. Most people don’t want that, especially in a place where corruption is rife. Not to say that that’s the main reason why people are so resistant to change, I’m also very curious as to why that is the status quo.
In fueling innovation, I believe that appreciating and understanding indigenous knowledge is paramount to crafting new technologies throughout all fields. Due to colonization, most aspects of African culture and methodology have been erased, resulting in most things being mere shadows of Western countries. A prime example is the field of medicine where Western medicine is the standard, whereas Indigenous knowledge systems show that long back they used herbs, roots, leaves etc for medicinal purposes. Perhaps if we had been allowed the chance to evolve autonomously, we could have a well developed and reliable medical fraternity. The same thing can be said for African architecture and fashion. Our reality could possibly have been different without the copy and paste trend.
I’m still not sure if we’re late to the party, but I’d like to think that change does not have set time lines and time limits. As long as human beings evolve, there always will be room for new technologies and ways of doing things. Our current reality is far from perfect, and change could occur in either direction. So to all the innovators out there, your ideas are valid, the world has a terrible high affinity for the new. That being said, there are efforts to promote sustainable development through innovation by many players in Africa. On that note, I’ll soon publish an article on The Falling Walls Lab Zimbabwe which is launching this year. It is an international pitching competition for innovative ideas and is being introduced to Zimbabwe by award winning science communicator; Scientist Emmie Chiyindiko.
Hello gentle reader, welcome back to my blog and if it’s the first time you’re here please do scroll down and catch up on previous issues. I’m wrapping up the #WinterABC2022 Storytelling Festival, and all I have to say is “wow”. It’s been one hell of a journey but I’ve loved every second of it, every single piece I wrote, burnout and imposter syndrome here and there. But at the of the day we move. This week was Stories of Our World and I just thought to dip my fingers a bit into the partnered topic. This is going to be a terribly short issue.
Social media is a minefield. Whatever it is you’re looking for, you’ll probably find it there. I’m in awe of its existence. Especially after observing it’s rise, and how it is not going anywhere. Who would have thought (except) the masterminds that one day, people all over the world would be connected in real time. If you take into account the amount of time you spend on social media, you realize just how much it is a part of you and extends into your daily routine. For most people, they live their whole lives on their phones, not exactly in a posts everything manner, but also in a sit back and enjoy Beyoncé’s internet. For many social media has become part of their being such that in its absence they malfunction.
The place you interact with other human beings but without interacting with other human beings.
I think we are still in denial of how much impact social media has. You’re looking at platforms where millions gather, perhaps organized into communities, and discourse. People go on there and propagate certain agendas. Somehow, social media could be a reflection of how and what we are as a society. In some instances, it is an extension of our daily lives, a peek into others. Then in some, it’s one’s whole life. Where people come together and meet in this little sphere crazy things are bound to happen too. We’re out on the internet sharing things about ourselves, the world around us and our thoughts. At times, it feels like we’re speaking into a vacuum but we’re really not. By existing together in this little corner we somehow make friends, form communities, forge connections, make enemies and so on. It’s like an alternate reality to “real life”, because while you can converse with these people, discourse, laugh till you cry and all sometimes; actually most times it starts and ends there. It’s like community, outside of community. We are out here making friends of people we might never ever meet, we’re happy for them, we cry together sometimes, walk through the long hard days all by virtue of them logging into the very same platforms as we do. I simply cannot get over how crazy it is to be this connected but also not really connected. We share parts of ourselves and there is a perceived familiarity and relationship that comes from that, that I currently do not have words for.
The lack of physical connection, does not nullify the relationships we have made on social media. For some, it all ends when they logout, then for some they pursue these relationships make lifelong friends and lovers, and then for some we keep watching from our screens; happy to be a part of the lives that cross our timelines.
Hear dear reader, welcome back to my blog, if this is your first time here, do scroll down and catch up with the previous issues. I was just about to dive in to this weeks theme on the #WinterABC, but then I thought a delayed post wouldn’t hurt anyone. Especially one on such an important topic, I couldn’t let the week go by without me spreading some feminist agenda. So here’s go my post wrapping up Stories of Awareness, and I branch into the topic given by Teakisi were I explore the prompt African Women more on the side of Sisterhood and Community.
No man is an island, and our ancestors knew this from the start, hence in the old days people lived in small communities and were of service to each other in multiple ways. This was backed by the thinking that non of us are self sufficient, and at some point we would need help and uplifting from those around us. People came together, stood by each other in times of hardship, celebrated together and protected each other from external forces as well. It is in those instances that you get an idea of how important a community is, especially one wherein you share values. Even today, people make tremendous effort to be a part of something, however life keeps getting in the way most of the times. Also to some extent we have grown to think that we are self sufficient (a mostly Western way of thinking.) The history lesson got a bit too long, but here is where I’m trying to get to; over time women have made unparalleled efforts towards freeing mostly themselves from the shackles of patriarchy and so in wanting to deviate from the status quo, you need a strong support system, a people you share the same values and vision with, who are willing to go the mile with you. More than anything, we need sisterhood and tightly knit communities that exist for our joyful existence outside the horrid existence we are often subjected to.
While it is a hard pill to swallow, men hate women. The intertwining of our lives, and how to some extent we might “need” each other for survival is one of the reasons why it is difficult to see things for what they are. But taking a closer look at things, and clearing ones perspective you realize just how little grace most men have for women, even their daughters, sisters and worse their wives. Most of the actions that constitute disregard for women have stretched for over millennia and are dismissed as “how we do things” and sanitized through religion, culture and tradition. The hate men possess for women is even institutional as well, such that it has far reaching arms, and will take a lot of effort to do away with. As women, especially African women who fall at the very bottom of the pyramid of importance, we can not sit on some Eureka moment , or a near impossible day of reckoning and should instead perhaps, explore other avenues that could help lessen the burdens that result from existing under patriarchy, and our daily exposure to misogyny all while moving towards the greater goal which is freedom. Therein comes the importance of Sisterhood, and Communities.
KUKING’A (To Protect)
Contrary to popular belief, feminism has always existed in Africa. Kuking’a a Swahili word which means to protect/protection is a form of feminism that was practiced within African societies since time immemorial. For the longest time, laws and systems have been set to disadvantage women, exhibits include Female genital mutilation, child marriage, rape, gender based and other deplorable actions towards women and to counter these ills and offer safe havens for the girls being subjected to such inhuman treatment, wealthier and privileged African women would come together and offer protection to these girls and women. Generally, the world takes very lightly the suffering of women, especially at the hands of men. It’s like a rite of passage, being subjected to sexual harassment, gender based violence, domestic abuse, very few people see anything wrong with this, and as such multitudes of women and girls are left to suffer within these situations.
More than ever, we need communities safe for women. Places in which they are protected. A classic example is Umoja Village , a haven created for women and girls to exist free of patriarchal and systematic violence. It is clear as day that African women need to work overtime to create safety nets for ourselves and the generations to come. Instead of begging for seats at the table, perhaps create our own spaces free of misogyny and patriarchy. The dehumanization of women is treated without urgency, except by women. Justice systems have always been complicit in matters concerning women. All women communities are a must, for the most part we are bonded by the struggle and hope for freedom and a better future. With such strong communities , grassroots movements for inclusion, equity and equality might just be made easier.
Women for Women
Every girl needs that girlfriend, nfa-nfe, for whom she would prise open the crack of her buttocks to check the pain up there without worrying about the ugliness. Because only a woman knows how to love a woman properly.
The First Woman: Jennifer Makumbi
I think small things stand to redefine our livelihoods and future. Elements like sisterhood, and female friendships go a long way in an attempt to cope with the workings of the world, our hope for future changes and most importantly our present reality. When you look at patriarchy you see how it’s a well oiled machine for destruction. There’s a lot of propaganda too, and my all time favorite being the rhetoric that women do not like each other, as if we woke up one day and chose to be nemesis’s. It’s wild how women are groomed to be each other’s competitors, all for the benefit of men 9/10 of the times. Now I won’t detour into how this works, as well end up with a long ass article. While we are somehow groomed to “hate” each other, at some point we should come together if not for anything but our shared struggle under patriarchy. We really have only each other. This for some may take up to a lifetime to finally realize but as women (read African women) we only have each other. In a setting wherein value is attached to you based on some ridiculous standards and beliefs, you need people who see you for you. People who accept you as you are. People who look at you and see a human being. A lot of the times, it’s other women who have an understanding of what womanhood is like cruel little world. Or even those without, but still look out for you. Community and sisterhood go hand in hand because even with choosing to be different, a sense of belonging is important.
Patriarchy uses other women to propagate its agenda of domination and subjugation. As a result you find people questioning why there is an overwhelming majority of women as foot soldiers for patriarchy. Community and acceptance is so important such that there is a genuine fear of being ostracized and women have no choice but to adapt and adopt harmful practices and propagate these agendas on to everyone else around them. With (feminist) sisterhood, you’re coming from a place in which you literally just love women for existing , and want a different reality for them, all while severing the beauty of a a group of strangers who will love you, for you. Renouncing patriarchy as an individual, and going on to unlearn your internalized misogyny impacts heavily one’s relationships with the women around them. I’ve sworn to try by all means to not be the one to propagate patriarchal agendas to the young girls following behind me.
I hope to further explore this topic, right now I’m a baby feminist who’s still in learning and hoping to l
Hello dear reader (In Lady Whistledown Voice), welcome back to my blog, and if this is your first time here do scroll down and catch up on the previous issues. We’re wrapping up the third week of the #WinterABC Storytelling Festival on Stories of Awareness. I asked Christine (@twoshadee) on Twitter and (@tafadzwanashechristine) on IG write an article already Vitiligo and that’s how this “collaboration” came about.
I’m pretty sure a bunch of people do not know what Vitiligo is because it’s been something that has been associated with a lot of myths and stories. It took some time for people to really know what it was. So through the article we shall take steps in giving brief descriptions of what vitiligo is and how people with it have been going through their lives.
Vitiligo is a long term condition were pale white patches develop on the skin. It’s caused by the lack of melanin, which is the skin pigment. This happens when melanocytes (skin cells that make pigment are attacked and destroyed causing the skin to turn milky white color. Vitiligo occurs in about a percentage or slightly more than a percentage of the world population. Vitiligo fortunately or unfortunately affects all races and genders throughout all age groups. Though it can develop in anyone at any age, it mostly starts appearing from ages 10 to 30.
One living with the condition might just giggle from hearing what a lot of people have to say or think about our condition. A lot of myths surrounding the condition. Well most believe that when one develops vitiligo it’s because of their misfortunes coming back to them they associate it with coming from witchcraft . But you could get to wonder how a 6 year old might have sinned to get their misfortunes coming back. I read once that this lady developed it at a later stage in life and people thought she was a witch and her goblins were coming back for her. We also have people thinking that vitiligo is contagious and it can just spread from a simple touch, now imagine how many people could’ve had it by now if it were true but we can’t really judge people for their thinking but just to educate them and letting them know that it’s far from being contagious. For the most alarming of myths on vitiligo we have a belief that is known that if someone with HIV sleeps with someone with vitiligo it will heal and you get to think of how many people who might have fallen for the myth.
Though we are in love with our spots it can be very difficult for us to cope with a lot of things. Thinking of going out especially in summer requires a lot of guts and well sunscreens as one can easily blister all over. This might be a bad thing living with vitiligo and without what’s needed to avoid the sunburns. Bullying for people with vitiligo and name calling is something that one can never run away from. It’s so hard to leave the house without being given some new hurtful name. Eyes and nasty looks are damaging if one is not strong and this ruins one’s confidence. Whilst a lot of people with certain conditions can think for themselves and work on their own also being worthy of achieving a better life for themselves the wider population thinks they are always pitied and they always get things because people feel sorry for them. It really has to be clear to people that they do not lack intellect and they can simply work and achieve greatness without being pitied.
Vitiligo is not a disease though people treat it as one. With the development of patches life suddenly changes, society starts behaving differently. One’s life can change from being a joyful one and bright one, to being a dark sorrowful life. Remedies and remedies are suggested from a lot of parties, visits to the doctors become frequent in trying to fix everything. All could just go in vain and the condition might not go away. The ones we thought were close could leave us and only a few could remain and in people’s eyes you become something different
With Vitiligo being a hard thing to live with, we really can’t hide the beauty we see from it. Our patches hold power and greatness. We love being different, we love showing off, we’ve embraced it and we are still living and continue living positively.
*** Christine (Two shades of beautiful) Tafadzwanashe Matyavira is a 22 year old Film Radio and Television production student at University of Zimbabwe. An advocate for all things Vitiligo.