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Zana’Kay Talks About A Tribe Called Zimbabwe, & Why She Chose Architecture

The moment you start discussing or debating on price, know that the value and experience coefficient in your product is losing its foothold.

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Zana'Kay Talks About  A Tribe Called Zimbabwe, & Why She Chose Architecture Asante Afrika Magazine
Zana'Kay
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Former Miss Zimbabwe 1st Princess, Former Miss Bulawayo 2005, Architect, Poet, Blogger, Cultural Activist, and Founder and Creative Director of the brand ‘A Tribe Called Zimbabwe’ – Nomakhosazana Khanyile Ncube, a.k.a. ‘Zana K’, is doing it all, and she’s just not stopping. The moment she steps into a room, you cannot help but notice and feel her presence. Talking to Zana will leave you feeling enchanted and inspired. She describes her brand as a royal brand, whose thrust is to celebrate Zimbabwean culture and heritage through fashion and architecture. Read on to find out more about this intriguing former beauty queen and intellectual.

Zana'Kay Talks About  A Tribe Called Zimbabwe, & Why She Chose Architecture Asante Afrika Magazine
Zana K

How would you describe yourself? What makes Zana stand out in a crowd? 

I’m an INTJ woman according to the Myer Briggs profile. Introverted, Intuitive and constantly Thinking and Judging. I’m often the silent observer in a crowd, processing as much information as I can gather about the environment and people. Therefore, I love people and the spaces where they are found. I love to learn, observe and study things and people, and I’ve been told I’m a little weird because of this. I guess what also makes me stand out is my somewhat divergent outliers’ perspectives and takes on things. I dress differently, speak differently and see things differently. Perhaps all of these ‘differences’ are manifestations of the curious explorative mind I have. I’d like to think I wear my skeleton on the outside. I’m very cultural and assertive, and that too tends to stand out easily.

What influenced your decision to study architecture?

I loved buildings from a young age, and was fascinated by the art of building or constructing things. I enjoyed making things as a child, and architecture was attractive to me because it offered me the chance to make big things… like buildings.

I, like many people, don’t know much about architecture. In fact, all I know is that one has to do Technical Drawing at school in order to become an Architect. Can you tell us more about your journey to becoming an architect? How easy/difficult was it, and how did you overcome the challenges faced on that journey? 

It’s been a very long journey, one that would fill pages were I to document it. All I can say is I followed my passion, and made sure I gave it my all throughout every step. It’s difficult to be in a male dominated field. Many times, I was an only girl in class, or one of only two females. It’s a competitive environment, and you need tough skin and grit. Architecture is one of the most demanding programs of study at tertiary institutions, because it’s both a science and art subject, and it requires a lot of drawing (technical and creative), making (model building), reading (understanding humanities) and calculating (mathematical and engineering thinking), all simultaneously.

Designing a space for human occupation requires one to think like the proposed users, to imagine function and experience, safety and pleasure, environment and climate, structure and materiality etc. The architect is always thinking about all these things. It’s a discipline that draws on all possible faculties of the mind – so I can say that has helped me to be a multidimensional thinker. Indulging and exploring other art forms like fashion design, poetry and writing, provided the much needed therapy, inspiration and motivation to keep going.  I’m still learning, and it will probably be a life long journey, but it’s definitely one I have enjoyed tremendously thus far.

Zana'Kay Talks About  A Tribe Called Zimbabwe, & Why She Chose Architecture Asante Afrika Magazine
Zana K

How did you merge your love for architecture with your love for fashion design, considering the stark differences in bricks/stone and fabrics? Are the two inter-connected in some way?

Architecture is in essence, the art of creating spaces – habitable spaces, and in my view, fashion is also the art of creating spaces – intimate spaces. Whereas in architecture one would design a space for multiple people or bodies, in fashion, one designs a space for one body, as it were. A garment is inhabited by one body, and a building is a garment that many bodies inhabit. In this regard, I see no difference between the principles in architecture and those in fashion, because both are about tectonics… which is the technique of how materials come together. The same way I envision making art out of how concrete, steel and glass join together to form an aesthetically pleasing building, is the same way I make art out of how cowhide, chiffon, feathers and horns come together to form a beautiful garment.

The simultaneous transition between architecture and fashion for me is easy. The same ‘presence’ and experience I want to create in my architectural spaces, is the same presence I like to invoke in my fashion garments, which is Royalty, and the celebration of rich African/Zimbabwean culture. I love what I do!!!

Zana'Kay Talks About  A Tribe Called Zimbabwe, & Why She Chose Architecture Asante Afrika Magazine
Zana K

You have always been a creative from a young age. What motivated your decision to start your brand, A Tribe Called Zimbabwe, and why using cowhide in particular to make the outfits and accessories?

I realised that there is an urban energy that exists on the continent that is not being branded and packaged into products. There is a profitable opportunity to build an African brand that celebrates Zimbabwe’s new sense of identity and explores creatively what it means to be an African and Zimbabwean in the 21st Century. There is a need for a brand that celebrates the unique and rich heritage and culture of Zimbabweans, and showcases our fashion and architectural identity to the world. Zimbabwe has many tribes; the Ndebele, Kalanga, Fengu, Tonga, Venda, Banyai, Sotho, Shona (which on its own is a name embodying a rich ethnic Bantu people consisting of various tribes, the Zezuru, Rozvi, Korekore, Karanga etc.) Yet there is one thing that we all have in common regarding the things we value, and that is cattle.

Cattle play a very strong role in Zimbabwean society. They are fundamental to our economy, and play very important socio-cultural roles. A Tribe Called Zimbabwe brings us all under that one umbrella that celebrates our shared values, and represents a united people who are proud of their individual ethnic identities. So cowhide then became that natural choice material. Not to mention that in my culture, it represents wealth and royalty, and I want Zimbabweans to remember who they are, and bask in the glory and wealth of their heritage ad culture.

Zana'Kay Talks About  A Tribe Called Zimbabwe, & Why She Chose Architecture Asante Afrika Magazine
Zana K

Who is the ideal client for A Tribe Called Zimbabwe products?

Every Zimbabwean is my ideal customer, and everyone who aspires to be a friend of Tribe and Country, and share in the celebration of our culture and heritage.

You’ve had the privilege of dressing some high profile personalities like Busisa Moyo, Ayanda Burotho and iNkosi uBulelani Lobengula-Khumalo, among others. How does that make you feel when you reflect on the journey of how you started your brand with only US$200, to where you are now, dressing the ‘who’s who’, and supplying your products to people in countries as far as America? 

It’s a humbling experience, and it affirms the biblical scripture that says that “your gift /talent will cause you to sit with kings”. I’m glad that I was bold enough to walk in the path of my calling. Regardless of the obstacles or the humble beginnings, I kept pressing on.

Zana'Kay Talks About  A Tribe Called Zimbabwe, & Why She Chose Architecture Asante Afrika Magazine
Zana K with Sandra Ndebele at Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards in A Tribe Called Zimbabwe Outfits

You are also co-founder of Umakoti by Nkazana Royal Bride Exhibition. Can you tell us more about that and what/who stimulated the decision to make cowhide bridal wear?

Umakoti by Nkazana Royal Bride Exhibition was a jointly planned exhibition, whose vision was to exhibit the textile work of Ganu, and the cowhide work of A Tribe called Zimbabwe, whilst sharing the common values of celebrating and promoting culture and women.

You recently made exquisite décor pieces for your home office using materials such as cow horns, used bucket handles, old bicycle wheels etc., and the results were really stunning. What stirs your creativity, and did you learn art at school, or is it an inborn gift?

I never studied art or fashion. My art and fashion skills are self-taught, and I guess I’ve always been inherently a creative. I’m inspired by culture and materials. I can look at a material and start imagining the many ways it can be used or transformed into something else. That’s what creativity is I guess… a sense of imagination.

Zana'Kay Talks About  A Tribe Called Zimbabwe, & Why She Chose Architecture Asante Afrika Magazine
Zana’s Hand-crafted Office Décor

The unfortunate side of being a creative is that sometimes you have to deal with issues like plagiarism of your designs or your work in general. You have experienced that more than once, and that has made you outspoken about protecting Intellectual Property (IP). How does it make you feel when, as a creative, you give your all to your craft, giving birth to your idea and bringing it to life, only for someone to appropriate your whole design process and ultimately the whole product, passing it off as their own?

It’s a conflicting feeling. On one end it’s disheartening and borderline infuriating; on the other it’s somewhat flattering that someone lusts after your creativity to the extent of plagiarism. However, feelings can’t get in the way of sound business ethos and practice, and thus I speak out and take action. It’s not easy to register a patent for any business, especially a small one, as it is an expensive feat. However, it is critical as rudimentary work, to patent as much creative work in order to make easy any exercise of rights to one’s intellectual property. The moment work leaves a metaphysical state of being an idea to becoming a tangible product or written document, it is already one’s intellectual property.

Whilst a country like Zimbabwe may seem like easy prey to violations, firstly we must understand that ideas themselves Are Not Poor. Ideas possess such immense and infinite potential for wealth, it is only when an executed idea fails can we rethink that potential. It’s important ideas and to protect our ideas and the processes proceeding thereof legally. Copycats will always be there and subject to prosecution but at A Tribe Called Zimbabwe we sell more than a product, We sell an experience, a zeitgeist, a milieu, a Genus Loci, as we call it in architecture (i.e. , spirit of the place)… a vibe, iSomething nje ethi, “I’m Zimbabwean”, kaThat thing kanoti “Proudly Zimbo”.

So whilst a few may be swayed to buy a Chinese replica, a true lover of Tribe and Country is loyal to the original authentic A Tribe Called Zimbabwe experience. The same way true lovers of wine are particular about a wine’s terroir, i.e., where its grown, how it’s made, this is the same way culture or art should be consumed. This kind of thinking and market consciousness then throws the foreign imitations off the mental shelves of a customer.

Zana'Kay Talks About  A Tribe Called Zimbabwe, & Why She Chose Architecture Asante Afrika Magazine
Zana K wearing her renowned crown

In a country like Zimbabwe, patenting one’s products can cost up to US$3,000 per product, and getting lawyers to fight copyright issues on one’s behalf is just as expensive. What do you think can be done by creatives to raise awareness of the need to curb plagiarism?

Creatives simply need to be educated on what IP is, what it constitutes, what infringement is, and how they can avoid the same. It doesn’t help to have a small batch of creatives having this information – all creatives must understand this subject, so that we relate to each other well where these matters are concerned.

Zana'Kay Talks About  A Tribe Called Zimbabwe, & Why She Chose Architecture Asante Afrika Magazine
A Tribe Called Zimbabwe Merchandise

The legal fraternity also has a role to play. How do you think, or what do you wish they could do to best assist creatives to raise awareness of the above-mentioned issue? Do you think having a Creatives Council, or in this case a fashion council in Bulawayo or Zimbabwe as a whole, would help creatives by protecting their rights?

I think a Creatives Council will definitely bring some structure and protection where IP rights are concerned, but we need to understand that law enforcement should be a last resort in any society where people are grounded in good ethics and morals. The very act of stealing or infringing on someone’s intellectual property, points to an ethical or moral decay either within that person, or society. So the first port of call would be in my opinion, to educate creatives on such topics, before we create bodies that respond to such delicts.

You mentioned to us that you were raised by a very strong mother who was certainly not a pushover, and in essence, she passed on those character traits to you. How important is it to be able to stand your ground in the creative industry, seeing as not everyone may like your products or agree with your style or pricing?

Never offer a product. Anyone, given the right tools and skills, can offer a product. Offer instead, an experience! That way you know your value. You understand your worth, and your product speaks to people that understand the same. The moment you start discussing or debating on price, know that the value and experience coefficient in your product is losing its foothold. It’s okay that not everyone will understand or relate to a product, but everyone understands value.

Zana'Kay Talks About  A Tribe Called Zimbabwe, & Why She Chose Architecture Asante Afrika Magazine
Zana and her mother at Zana’s graduation

What advice would you give to a young African girl who would one day like to become an architect or a designer with a superb and exclusive brand like yours?

Talent is not a substitute for work. No matter the career choice, understand that you are unique, and have inside you a unique offering to the world. It’s your responsibility to work hard and refine and articulate that talent and gift to the world. There can be a hundred thousand architects, singers, dancers, doctors or fashion designers… but none just like you. So never quiet that inner, unique talent that you have, just so you fit in.

Where do you see your brand in the next 5-10 years? Our vision is to grow into Zimbabwe’s centerpiece of Afrocentric Apparel and Interiors, and mastering the art of translating our African identity and heritage into relevant modern products. We aspire to make an overwhelming impact in the fashion industry by creating a high consumer demand for our products through strategic relationships, advertising and participation in local and international fashion shows, as well as other relevant trade shows. We envision launching a unique line of fragrances and accessories alongside a unique Afrocentric apparel line, and to grow from being a home industry to a prestigious brand, with stores in strategic areas in Zimbabwe and Africa. We aim to use this fresh approach to Afrocentric fashion to unlock a new profit source from the targeted market. A Tribe Called Zimbabwe has the potential to become a highly regarded resource in local, regional and international market.

Connect with Zana:

Website:  www.atribecalledzimbabwe.com
Blog:  www.zanakay.wordpress.com

LinkedIn: Nomakhosazana K Ncube

Instagram: @zanatribequeen  

Twitter: @atribecalledzim

Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu

Features

#EndSARS – A Reflection By Rorisang Moyo

Many report being stopped at random and being harassed for owning iPhones, as that is an indicator that they may be engaging in criminal activities.

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#EndSARS - A Reflection By Rorisang Moyo Asante Afrika Magazine
#ENDSARS Protests in Nigeria. Image Source - https://edition.cnn.com/2020/10/25/africa/nigeria-end-sars-protests-analysis-intl/index.html
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Imagine telling a waiter that there is something wrong with the food, and instead of changing it, they spit in it! That is the summary of the Nigerian experience at the hands of the police. 

#ENDSARS is a decentralised social movement against police brutality in Nigeria. The purpose of SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) was to curb criminal activity including robbery, motor vehicle theft, kidnapping, cattle rustling and firearms. I say ‘was’, because their behaviour is contrary to their intended purpose. 

SARS operate while dressed in civilian clothing. They are notorious for harassment of civilians and abducting them.

The first question one asks is that, “If the goal of these law enforcement agents is to protect civilians from themselves by regulating their behaviour and making sure that they comply with the law, why is their method one where they have to ambush them?” If something is a crime in a country, surely it is not a secret, and everyone must know the consequences of crime. The role of law enforcement systems in any functional country, is to regulate people’s behaviour. It is a fact that people are inherently animalistic, but even the jungle has rules.

The work of SARS, while it sounds ridiculous, appears very intentional in its execution. It is heavy-handed towards young people and women. When a young man is seen in designer clothing, he is sure to be harassed, and has to explain how he can afford what he is wearing. Many report being stopped at random and being harassed for owning iPhones, as that is an indicator that they may be engaging in criminal activities. One woman reported being slut-shamed for owning a car. SARS asked how she can afford a car, and accused her of being a sex worker.  

In a world where we are still actively trying to be politically correct by respecting all professions without imposing conventional morality, slut-shaming a financially independent woman is an insult in this modern age. It reveals the rot in our system, where a man is seen as a woman’s door to success. Furthermore, is a person supposed to dress badly to fit in the role of being poor? 

No self-respecting criminal uses an iPhone because there is too much admin that is involved in using an iPhone. One needs a phone that they can actually get rid of, a phone with the basic functions of just calling and texting. No internet. No camera. No fingerprint what-what.  There is a reason why experienced criminals use burner phones guys!  

When Nigerians eventually protested against the violent manner in which the law was being enforced, the response was… even more police brutality!

#EndSARS - A Reflection By Rorisang Moyo Asante Afrika Magazine
Bloodied Nigerian flag from after the Lekki Tollgate massacre at the #ENDSARS Protests.

Is it an African thing; must the person of colour’s relationship with law enforcement be one characterised by tyranny and fear? The police are not your friends. #ZimbabweanLivesMatter was about the same thing. It was a whole country begging law enforcement to protect them. Unarmed citizens begged to be respected. What did they get in return? They were thoroughly harassed, and some prominent figures, particularly journalists like Hopewell Chin’ono, were arrested. Charges like incitement of violence were fabricated. Chin’ono was asked to stop speaking out about the reality of his country as he saw it, and he was arrested again.

#EndSARS - A Reflection By Rorisang Moyo Asante Afrika Magazine
Hopewell Chin’ono in prison garb.

It is public knowledge that the laws we have today are an aberration of the same laws that came to us on a ship and were used to oppress us.  Now, our African police, in their Gestapo-like manner, are recreating the same oppressive atmosphere of colonial times.

The law during colonial times was a symbol of where one existed on the social ladder. The white man up to today can even shout at the same policeman who thoroughly beats up Tapiwa, and makes him apologise to them. The black man who experiences true justice under the law, is a black man with money, or the black man with friends who can engineer their own justice.

#BlackLivesMatter was trending, and our African presidents, in their true audacious fashion, called out police brutality in the United States. Once again we had to sit in our living rooms and bite our tongues, as we watched our African fathers beating us up at home, then going on to preach about violence to strangers. 

#EndSARS - A Reflection By Rorisang Moyo Asante Afrika Magazine
#BlackLivesMatter Protests: Image Source – ft.com.

Are these the growing pains of a relatively young democracy? Is there a country that can truly stand up and say that they have a perfect democracy? The US, which had a head start at democracy, is still suffering from systemic racism, which manifests itself through the way justice treats the person of colour. Justice and the courts do not operate in a vacuum; they operate in a system of prejudices and misconceptions, that find their home in how we make assumptions about other people. 

There is a reason why when one is assessed to be an attorney, a fit and proper test is carried out – to check if their morals and lifestyle are consistent with the expectations of law-abiding citizens. However, this test is not enough when free will comes into play, because we all come from different backgrounds, which may inform our prejudices.

Lastly, the profession of a policeman or a law enforcement agent, requires a system which encourages people to see serving in it as an honour, and not just an opportunity for glorified bullies to play with guns. It is imperative that people go into law enforcement, not as people who are trying to sneak up on civilians, but rather to foster a judicial system of accountability.  A law enforcement agent has to understand that, it is through them that we learn to respect the law, not because we are scared, but because we understand why the law exists in the first place!

Connect with Rori via her Blog and LinkedIn:

https://rorisangmoyo2.wixsite.com/website/blog

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rorisang-moyo-2a8731193/

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Creative Outlet

Oyedele Abiodun – Nigeria’s Master of Fine Art

His close proximity to nature and his love for outdoor features, further enhance his artistic talent.

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Oyedele Abiodun - Nigeria's Master of Fine Art Asante Afrika Magazine
Oyedele Abiodun - Nigeria's Master of Fine Art
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“I paint what I see… by arranging colours side by side to form a unified whole; to enjoy the obvious that may be consciously hidden or otherwise. As perceived, light is the key that traverse in my paintings, unveiling the beauty of nature and its components in their various values. The world as represented by our environment, is beautiful to be a unique subject matter. ”                                         

Oyedele abiodun’s artist statement
Oyedele Abiodun - Nigeria's Master of Fine Art Asante Afrika Magazine
Oyedele Abiodun Fine Art:
On The Look Out, Oil on canvas, 90 x 90cm, 2019

Born in 1991, Oyedele Abiodun Oyewumi, from Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Nigeria, is a master of fine art whose talent is unmatched. Having discovered his love for Art in high school, and even as a sciences student doing maths, physics, chemistry, etc., the kind and bubbly artist went on to studied fine art at university. Fascinated by the happenings in his environment from his teenage years, his decision to pursue art as a profession was inspired simply by his love and passion for Art. His close proximity to nature and his love for outdoor features, further enhance his artistic talent.   

Oyedele Abiodun - Nigeria's Master of Fine Art Asante Afrika Magazine
On Her Mind, Oil on Canvas, 75cm x 60cm, 2019

When asked if he is happy with the choice that he made of not pursuing a career in Sciences and following his heart to do Art, Oyedele said he is absolutely happy with his decision, and even more so because his parents support him completely, in all ways, and they never judged him or put pressure on him to do so called “stable careers” in the sciences sector, but instead, they encouraged him to follow his heart and do what he loved and enjoyed.

Oyedele Abiodun - Nigeria's Master of Fine Art Asante Afrika Magazine
Behind Her Smile, Oil on Canvas, 75cm x 60cm, 2019

Oyedele graduated from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, in 2015 with a Second-Class Upper Degree in Fine and Applied Arts and a concentration in painting. He majored in Painting and minored in sculpture. Says Oyedele, “I believe Art and science goes hand in hand, in terms of material used for the creation of art, the form of Art, and the process. Science and technology give me more understanding about how art materials are made at the factory, and how they can be improvised and produced locally. For example, one would ask, “How can we make the process of creating an art piece faster, durable and efficient?” Technology has been able to answer these questions.”

Oyedele Abiodun - Nigeria's Master of Fine Art Asante Afrika Magazine
Her Livelihood, Oil on Canvas, 90cm x 90cm, 2019

After graduating from LAUTECH, Oyedele went on to do a year of National Service, which is compulsory in Nigeria. He served in a village called Daudawa, Faskari Local Government Area, Kastina State, Nigeria, as a class teacher in a public Secondary School. “The experience was a great one”, says Oyedele, and he was able to impact and inspire the young ones positively. He also enjoyed meeting people from a different state, who have different cultures and a different identity altogether.

Oyedele Abiodun - Nigeria's Master of Fine Art Asante Afrika Magazine
Hope, 90cm x 60cm, Oil on Canvas, 2019

Upon completion of his National Service, Oyedele taught Fine Art at Gomal Baptist College for a year. His focus was to help the young ones foster the same enthusiasm he has for Art. “What excited me most was the passion my students have for Art; this was expressed through their willingness to come to my office for additional drawing class during their spare time. It was a great experience.”

Oyedele Abiodun - Nigeria's Master of Fine Art Asante Afrika Magazine
Her Voice, Her Strength, Oil on Canvas, 90cm x 75cm, 2019

Currently, the fine art creative is actually pursuing a Master’s Degree in Technology in Painting (M.Tech.) at LAUTECH, whereupon on completion, he will emerge a true “Master of Fine Art”. M.Tech is equivalent to Master of Fine Art (M.F.A.), and it holds the same qualification advantages as the M. F. A.

Oyedele says he markets his art personally via social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and an online art gallery. Says Oyedele, “The advent of online art marketing has been a great help to the emerging artists to share their work to the rest of the world. Ultimately, it has been a real lifesaver.”

Oyedele Abiodun - Nigeria's Master of Fine Art Asante Afrika Magazine
The Making Of Beauty II, Oil on Canvas, 90cm x 60cm, 2019

What he enjoys the most about being an artist is the feeling of being at peace, and the sense of fulfillment whenever he finishes a piece. According to Oyedele, one of his biggest achievements as a professional artist was having one of his pieces titled ‘Catch Them Young’, recently selected for the global conversation exhibition UN75, 2020) by the United Nations. “It was a great honor”, says the artist. He has also taken part in some exhibitions, including ‘The Other Side’ (Alliance Francaise, Ibadan, 2019), ‘Broken Earth’ (Nexus Exchange Nigeria, Lagos, 2019), and an international group exhibition, ‘Seen Form’ (HYB4 Galarie, Prague, 2020).

According to Abiodun, obstacles faced as an artist in his state and in Nigeria wholly, include low patronage and very few opportunities for emerging artists. “It is very difficult financially, because you don’t always sell a piece every day”. He thinks that to address these obstacles, provision of more funds to the Art sector can be looked into, and more opportunities can be created and availed to upcoming artists.

Oyedele Abiodun - Nigeria's Master of Fine Art Asante Afrika Magazine
Catch Them Young, Oil on Canvas, 90cm x 90cm, 2019

His parting words to a young artist who would like to study art professionally but is being discouraged by family or society are, “Do what you like doing, follow your heart, don’t give up. Consistency is the key, keep at it.”

Connect with Oyedele:

oyedeleabiodun@gmail.com

www.instagram.com/oyedeleabiodunfineart

www.facebook.com/oyedeleabiodunoyewumi

Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu

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Lifestyle

Zimbabwean Musician and Model Rudo Amor Talks About Her Invisible Scars – #EndGBV

“I would just sit and try to calm him down, which would only make him worse, until one day he “accidentally” hit my jaw. But even after that, I stayed.”

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Rudo Amor
Rudo Amor Photo Cred: @gideon.visuals Makeup: @makeupbyrenee_seckel Hair By: @rudoamormusic Nails: @spark.lenails Styling: @the_ladyrue
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Award winning musician and professional model, Rudo Nyoni, popularly known as Rudo Amor, is not a stranger to speaking out about Gender Based Violence (GBV). She took time to share her experiences with us, and to give a few words of encouragement to women who are afraid to leave abusive relationships.

Zimbabwean Musician and Model Rudo Amor Talks About Her Invisible Scars - #EndGBV Asante Afrika Magazine
Rudo Amor Photo Cred: @gideon.visuals
Makeup: @makeupbyrenee_seckel
Hair By: @rudoamormusic
Nails: @spark.lenails
Styling: @the_ladyrue

You’ve had all the success as a musician and professional model; however, you have also experienced your fair share of heartbreak, as well as ‘aggressive’ partners in relationships, as you put it. You actually did an Instragram post quite recently, about a very emotionally abusive relationship which you managed to get out of. Can you tell us briefly about that, and how you managed to pull yourself out of those kinds of relationships?

I was involved with a guy I had known for years and we dated for almost 4 years. At first he was the perfect gentleman; he was sweet, thoughtful, funny, and he would sing to me… but then things started changing! He started getting jealous of my friends and the amount of time I would spend with them, till he would insist on seeing me every day, and he would humiliate me in public by shouting at me or making me feel stupid. I thought it was a bit much, but because I was in love and wanted him to be happy and secure, I went along with this. He then started getting emotionally abusive when we would argue, and most times it was about how I had somehow disrespected him. He would lock his office door and shout at me for hours, and tell me not to speak. He would punch walls and break chairs at times. I was terrified to do anything, so I would just sit there and try to calm him down, which would only make him worse, until one day he “accidentally” hit my jaw. But even after that, I stayed. I broke it off after spending more time in prayer and with my friends who never gave up on me. I believe if it wasn’t for God and for those good friends of mine, I would have married him, despite the fact that I was so miserable.

Zimbabwean Musician and Model Rudo Amor Talks About Her Invisible Scars - #EndGBV Asante Afrika Magazine
Rudo Amor

At some point a few years ago you were dating someone else, and you went as far as calling off your wedding to him just three or four days before the big day. Can you tell us more about that situation, and what gave you the strength and courage to put yourself first and get out of an unhappy relationship, despite the fact that you had spent thousands of your own money on the wedding preparations and knowing that people will talk?

Firstly I would like to say there was nothing really wrong with my ex, he was a great guy and very passionate about God. We just were not meant to be together, and God made it very clear towards the wedding. I still feel like I was a fool at times for not asking more questions, and why I could not just put my foot down and refuse to pay for the things we agreed to get  for the wedding, and why I believed in him so much. But well, I was naïve and in love, and under the philosophy that ‘you always trust your man’.

A lot of people thought that I was the one pushing for the wedding, because people could see that he wasn’t ready for the financial commitments involved, but I believed him when he said he had it all figured out. So when he came to me a week before the wedding to tell me that he had no money and couldn’t pay me back or pay his portion of the wedding, and that he had been lying about his business and finances, I forgave him – on the condition that he wouldn’t lie to me again, and that he would ask his parents to assist him, and I would get mine to do the same. Well… that promise was broken two days later when he asked me to postpone the wedding and forfeit all the deposits and money I had paid for, so that we could then have the wedding in the manner which his father wanted. I felt shattered because I had worked 7 days a week, seeing service providers and making payments, and he didn’t even appreciate the efforts I had made and would still want to please his father, even though the father wasn’t willing to contribute.

I had been praying and fasting the previous two weeks with my mum, so I somehow found the strength to call off the wedding and engagement. My eyes were opened and I realized that things would never change, and that if I continued, I would be doomed to a life of investing myself in a relationship where I hardly get any support from him, and that our lives would be dictated by his family and what they wanted. I chose to leave for the sake of my peace of mind, and it was a very difficult decision to make because we were attending the same church and horrible things were said about me, even though I was the one who was betrayed and financially drained. I recovered no funds, but I turned it around and donated a lot of the things I had paid for to other brides and people as a seed offering to God. It was the strength of my family, especially my mum who would sleep with me for a month, praying for me daily after the break up, the relatives who drove from Harare just to see me, and relatives who called, and friends who prayed for me and my grandfather’s love and support that brought me through it. I did not return to my former church because too much was said, and I felt I could not heal and move on if I continued going there.

Zimbabwean Musician and Model Rudo Amor Talks About Her Invisible Scars - #EndGBV Asante Afrika Magazine
Rudo Amor

You have had all the success as a professional model for corporates and big organisations. Can you tell us if you have faced (or continue to face) any form of gender-based discrimination, seeing as most firms are usually male-dominated, and if yes, what did/do you do to stop that from happening?

I have been fortunate to have worked with big brands such as P.P.C, Edgars, Econet, Delta etc., and to have been under a great agency, AM Model Management, and these great companies I have mentioned were so professional. I was shielded from unsolicited attention most times, except for events that were with other companies and event organisers. As I am also a singer, most events are organized by men and sometimes the lines of professionalism are blurred, especially when dealing directly with them, and even in terms of music producers.

It isn’t easy being a female singer and model in Zimbabwe… well Africa in general (laughs); because we are taught as females from a young age to respect men, specifically older men, as they are ‘father figures’, but there are so many times that men try to take advantage. I’ve had cases where I have had men approach me wanting to be my manager or offer opportunities, only to then try to date me, and when I would refuse, the show would be cancelled or the deal withdrawn. I have since learnt that the only way to deal with these things and to stop them from happening, is by avoiding meeting potential male managers and booking agents and promoters alone. Through the grooming lessons I have conducted with Open Eye Studio (owned by Samantha Tshuma), I have highlighted the need for models to set boundaries and personal goals, so that no one can attempt to take advantage of them and succeed in doing so all because of an ‘opportunity’. I continue to talk to models and singers about the dangers in the arts industry and the business world in general.

The world has just been commemorating 16 Days of Activism Against GBV. What have you as an influential person in Bulawayo done during this period to raise awareness of the need to curb GBV?

During this period I have used my social media to share on my own experiences, and we have a series we are working on under SisNxtGen. We want to focus on the root cause of GBV, which in most cases is how a child is brought up. We have many boys growing up being told to not show their emotions because that is weakness and it’s only for girls, and as such, some grow up with anger and resentment, and because they were not taught healthy ways of expressing their emotions, they lash out at women and men and children. We also have girls growing up being conditioned for abusive relationships through watching their mothers being abused, and being told that this is normal and okay. I believe that raising awareness must be a daily thing and not just over a certain timeframe, as cases of GBV keep rising and have alarmingly done so during this Covid-19 pandemic.

Zimbabwean Musician and Model Rudo Amor Talks About Her Invisible Scars - #EndGBV Asante Afrika Magazine

“You carry gifts inside of you that only you can give, and no man can ever take that away. You have the potential to carry and give birth to life, and that is by far the greatest miracle on earth.”

You are currently the Programme Manager for SisNxtGen, an intitiative founded by Culture Fund Zimbabwe and supported by EU in Zimbabwe, whose aim is to train upcoming female musicians in production, management, sound engineering, radio presenting, podcast and DJing. What inspired your decision to want to get involved in that kind of a programme?

As a female musician having faced so many challenges in music production, like how to communicate to producers exactly what I want when recording, and the lockdown forcing music recording to come to a stop, I decided with the team that we have to come up with a programme to address such issues. You will also notice that there are very few female music producers and sound engineers in Zimbabwe, and those professions have been male dominated for years, worldwide.

Zimbabwean Musician and Model Rudo Amor Talks About Her Invisible Scars - #EndGBV Asante Afrika Magazine
Rudo Amor

In your opinion, do you think that such programmes are useful in empowering women to become independent and to stand up for themselves? Are you already seeing tangible results from this particular programme?  

We believe that this initiative will firstly empower young female artists to get more control over their music, and be able to produce for themselves and other artists. The various programmes which we are running will assist them to earn an income in fields normally reserved for men. 

We have already finished the Music Business Management trainings where 15 females were trained and I watched them come out of their shells and regain confidence that they could make it in the music industry. Some who are already managers have already begun implementing the information they received with the artists they are managing.

We completed the training in Music Recording and Production on the 19th of December, and some of our participants have already almost completed their own original compositions. All the participants now know how to set up a studio, capture vocals and instruments, and have learnt the basics in mixing.

Zimbabwean Musician and Model Rudo Amor Talks About Her Invisible Scars - #EndGBV Asante Afrika Magazine
Rudo Amor

Cases of GBV have been on the rise this year, especially during lockdown. What are your words of advice to women who would love to get out of abusive relationships, but because of financial dependency, and cultural and societal norms, are finding themselves stuck in those situations?

You are fearfully and wonderfully made by God, and He is your source – not a man, and if He is in your corner, then He will provide for you, if you will just believe that everything you need in life to survive and succeed is already inside of you. You carry gifts inside of you that only you can give, and no man can ever take that away. You have the potential to carry and give birth to life, and that is by far the greatest miracle on earth.

Remember that you can only live your life once, and once its gone, you can not get it back or redo it. So today, decide to choose to love yourself enough to leave that man who doesn’t love you, and let the man who was created for you love you as you were created to be. “Love is patient, kind, doesn’t envy, doesn’t boast, it doesn’t dishonour others, it is slow to anger, forgives all things, it protects always, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres; love never fails”. 1st Corinthians 13:4-8 (paraphrased).

Connect with Rudo Amor

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Email: rudoamor5@gmail.com

Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu

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