Author: Mail & Guardian

Welshman Ncube votes in Bulawayo

In Makokoba’s Stanley Square in Bulawayo, voters braved chilly morning temperatures to cast their vote in Zimbabwe’s election on Wednesday. A long winding queue of men and women snaked outside the fenced polling station as voters patiently waited for their turn. There is very little conversation that goes on in the queues – perhaps it’s the cold or perhaps voters are wary of the next person’s political affiliations.

Despite widely held anticipation that this election would draw scores of young voters – the youth make up 60% of Zimbabwe’s population – the elderly were in the majority in the queue here at Makokoba.

About five policemen were been deployed at the Stanley Square polling station. Across the road, St Patricks –  another polling station – was deserted as voters came to “the square” to cast their ballot.

One officer with bloodshot eyes scanned the crowd of voters with a menacing look. Another, who appeared to be the head of the police deployed here, told journalists to join the police force so they too can wear long grey winter coats. He proudly showed off his to the reporters shivering in the cold. A few laughed, but he was largely ignored as they were more concerned with the arrival of Welshman Ncube, the leader of a smaller faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Welshman Ncube (Pic: Shepherd Tozvireva)
Welshman Ncube (Pic: Shepherd Tozvireva)

Ncube’s office had earlier sent out text messages saying he would cast his vote at 9.30am at the square. This is also where he addressed thousands of his supporters at his final rally in Bulawayo last Sunday. By 10am, Ncube had still not arrived. Reporters muttered that politicians are never on time, that they’re ever eager to make a grand entrance while everyone’s eyes are on them. While they waited, a few cars passed through with officials from the MDC inside.

Finally, at 10.20am a three-car convoy pulled up at the polling station. Ncube stepped out. Voters in the queue watched curiously as the opposition leader was hounded by reporters eager to get pictures and a comment.

Makokoba, the oldest township in Bulawayo, has been a stronghold of the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for the past 13 years. All parliamentary candidates vying for the Makokoba seat are confident that they have strong chances of winning.

After a short wait inside, Ncube cast his vote as officials from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission watched.

Speaking to the media afterwards, he gave the entire election process his stamp of approval despite the concerns raised by the MDC over the past few weeks. “If everyone who turns up to vote is allowed to vote and the peaceful environment prevails, that’s what matters at the end of the day,” Ncube said before bidding everyone goodbye.

Cold and hungry, I jumped into the car for warmth and got ready to leave. There was still a queue of voters waiting to cast their ballot. Despite the biting cold, their determination was clearly visible on their faces – they’ll  soldier on and exercise their democratic right.

Ray Ndlovu has been a correspondent for the Mail & Guardian in Zimbabwe since 2009. His areas of interest include politics and business. With a BSc honours degree in journalism and media studies, he aspires to become a media mogul.

NoViolet Bulawayo makes Man Booker Prize longlist

Zimbabwean writer NoViolet Bulawayo is the only African on the Booker longlist that includes celebrated authors like Colm Tóibín and Jim Crace. She’s on it for her debut novel We Need New Names, set in a shantytown called Paradise in Zimbabwe.

The longlist for the prize, one of the English language’s top fiction awards, names 13 writers from seven countries.

Selected from 151 titles, it also includes authors from Britain, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Malaysia and Ireland.

Announcing the list, the judge Robert Macfarlane said: “This is surely the most diverse longlist in Man Booker history: wonderfully various in terms of geography, form, length and subject.”

“These 13 outstanding novels range from the traditional to the experimental, from the first century AD to the present day, from 100 pages to 1 000, and from Shanghai to Hendon.”

If you thought the name NoViolet Bulawayo is an improbable one, it’s probably because hers is a moniker. Born Elizabeth Tshele in 1981 in Tsholotsho, in the south of Zimbabwe,  she moved to the United States when she was 18.

NoViolet Bulawayo. (Caine Prize)
NoViolet Bulawayo. (Caine Prize)

A previous winner of the Caine Prize, she is also the recipient of the Truman Capote Fellowship. She won the Caine Prize in 2011 for the story Hitting Budapest, included in her debut novel as the first chapter.

The beautifully written story is told using a deceptively simple but mature child narrator. It begins: “We are on our way to Budapest: Bastard and Chipo and Godknows and Sbho and Stina and me. We are going even though we are not allowed to cross Mzilikazi Road, even though Bastard is supposed to be watching his little sister Fraction, even though mother would kill me dead if she found out; we are going. There are guavas to steal in Budapest, and right now I’d die for guavas, or anything for that matter. My stomach feels like somebody just took a shovel and dug everything out.”

In total, seven women are on the list, the others being Alison MacLeod with Unexploded, Charlotte Mendelson with Almost English, Canadian Ruth Ozeki with A Tale for the Time Being, and New Zealand’s Eleanor Catton with The Luminaries.

The judges will meet again in September to decide a shortlist of six books and the winner will be announced at a ceremony on October 15 in London. – Percy Zvomuya and Reuters.

This article was first published in the Mail & Guardian.

10 talented Africans, 10 inspiring stories

In October this year, over 1300 young future leaders from 190 countries will gather in Johannesburg to share their vision and ideas on leadership and development. They’ll be attending the fourth annual One Young World Summit from 2-5 October, where they’ll be given a platform to engage with respected global leaders on everything from governance to health to sustainable development.

Unlike any other event, the One Young World Summit gives delegates the kind of media platform ordinarily afforded only to those who lead countries and corporations. Delegates speak alongside respected global figures selected for their work and insight into matters affecting the whole world, and the youth in particular.  The Mail & Guardian‘s Trevor Ncube will be chairing a session on African media and what Africans think of their journalists. To share your views, complete this short survey.

As part of its commitment to developing young leaders, the M&G is sponsoring two young Africans to attend the One Young World summit. Last month we called for applications from Africans who have strong leadership skills, are invested in global issues and have a  passion for volunteering to apply for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We received hundreds of responses from young people doing inspiring and exciting things in the fields of technology and development on the continent. Of these, we’ve shortlisted the 10 candidates below and will choose two of them as One Young World delegates. Over the next two weeks, they’ll be blogging about how they’re using digital technology to improve Africans’ daily lives. From digitising Ghanaian doctors’ prescription pads to empowering women farmers in Malawi through SMS campaigns, these are stories you don’t want to miss.

Meet the 10 candidates:

Oscar Ekponimo (27), Nigeria

Oscar Ekponimo




Oscar is passionate about technology and social change. He has used his skills in digital technology to raise funds for Crystal Mbaguno who required life saving surgery in India for a benign brain tumour.  His digital media campaign helped raised part of the 2.5 million Nira for her operation, and she is currently in recovery. Oscar is involved in another project to combat hunger and food wastage in conjunction with retail distributors. This project connects the retailer, the poor, and charities that supply food to them.

Joel Macharia (26), Kenya

Joel Macharia






Joel is the founder of, an online consumer finance publication that’s aimed at simplifying the world of finance for ordinary Kenyans. He’s also behind Sagana Farms, an agribusiness start-up that helps small-scale farmers get the best returns for their produce by linking them with retailers in urban areas. Joel is a volunteer lecturer in a program aimed at equipping underprivileged students with entrepreneurship and technology skills. He has been involved with TEDx in Nairobi, and spoke at TEDx Kangemi, Kibera and Silanga.

Chikondi Chabvuta (25), Malawi

Chikondi Chabvuta





Chikondi is passionate about empowering women farmers and educating young women. She uses digital technology – webcasts –  to put young girls in her community in touch with inspiring role models in Malawi and across the world. Chikondi also empowers female farmers by teaching them literacy and numeracy via their cellphones.  She promotes the use of SMS marketing among women farmers, which makes them more knowledgeable about market prices and enables them to sell their produce at minimum cost.

Adib Ayay (19), Morocco

Adib Ayay








Having grown up between the olive fields in a small town in Morocco, Adib has a passion for agriculture and business. At 17, he founded Fair Farming, a student-run organisation that seeks to help farmers boost their revenue using mobile technology. This project has enabled 300 hundred farmers to benefit from higher incomes and better provide for their families.

His team is working on a new project called TelFarm, which will have a larger impact and benefit millions of farmers across the world. Aimed at small-scale farmers who lack financial services and extensive agriculture information, TelFarm is a suite of mobile-based SMS and voice tools that will allow farmers to significantly increase their income through access to transparent market prices, best farming practices, mobile payments and and micro-insurance.

Gregory Rockson (22), Ghana

Gregory Rockson







Gregory is passionate about access to healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa. The young Ghanaian founded mPharma, a system which digitises the traditional prescription notepad and transforms it into an interactive prescription writing tool. This way, physicians can send mobile prescription scripts to their patients and record and report adverse drug reactions in real time. Gregory has successfully partnered with the Zambian health ministry to deploy mPharma in the country’s health facilities.

Tawanda Kembo (26), Zimbabwe

Tawanda Kembo






Tawanda is interested in finding innovative ways to meet social needs. He explore existing methods to see if he can remake or modify them to serve today’s society. He founded,  an online platform for users to blow the whistle on corrupt activity in Zimbabwe. He also founded Virtual Bank Africa, which provides basic financial services to people who otherwise would not be able to afford them. Tawanda is also committed to volunteering activities and job creation.

Mooketsi Bennedict Tekere (27), Botswana

Mooketsi Benedict Tekere

Mooketsi is passionate about social entrepreneurship, improved medical tourism for healthcare and education in Africa. He founded Digital Computer Labs, an initiative to set up state-of-the-art computer labs across all of Botswana for students to use. He is also invested in empowering women through education. He founded the first digital lab for young female students to come together and discuss ICTs and has given female students from the University of Botswana internships in his company. Mooketsi also hosts technology workshops and tutors students.

Achu Coretta Penn (27), Cameroon

Achu Coretta Penn






Achu is a youth activist and is passionate about advocating education for young girls. She is a founding member of Impact Creators, a youth-led apolitical NGO that promotes the education and professional development of Cameroonian youth. She is part of a project called “Using Mobile Reporting to Improve Rural and Urban Youth Programming”. It makes use of basic technology on mobile phones to collect data more easily and make youth programming more effective. This ongoing initiative has been welcomed by the international community, and Achu presented on it at the 12th ICT4D conference in Atlanta last year.

Divine Puplamu (23), Ghana

Divine Puplampu







Divine believes that technology can be the solution to everyday problems. He co-founded a technology start-up company called Zottech, which provides  technological products and solutions to Ghanaian businesses and organisations. He also volunteers his time as a producer and co-host of Computer Link, the only IT show on radio in Ghana. Divine served as a Google Ambassador at university and hosted workshops and training sessions for technological products. He volunteers with various initiatives aimed at improving the lives of the youth through the use of technology.

Tinashe Mushakavanhu (30), Zimbabwe





Tinashe believes that the voice of Zimbabwean youth matters and that they ought to proactively participate in the political and social discourse as it affects their lives daily . He is the founder of YoungNation, an online portal that harvests conversations to build young people into better citizens. YoungNation runs an interactive digital hub located in downtown Harare that provides access to information and applications for communication, commerce, entertainment and education. It is the first such initiative in Zimbabwe targeted at young people aged between 18 and 35. The project offers networking opportunities and hosts workshops and training. It is an ideal location to support and grow future entrepreneurs.