Written by Gilmore Tee
2021 was a challenging year for young creatives and entrepreneurs across the globe at large, however, it was also a defining year for a lot as they had to re-adjust and find new ways of doing their work under lockdowns, working from home and the COVID 19 pandemic.
Here are some Zimbabwean Creatives and Entrepreneurs we enjoyed following and cannot wait to see what they have in store for us in 2022.
Valee Music (Music)
Born Valerie Menyiwe Sibanda in Bulawayo, Valee Music is a British-Zimbabwean Afropop Songstress who did a cameo for Disney’s Black is King, a film by Beyonce Knowles, as well as Sarkodie and Mr. Eazi’s music video titled “Do You”.
She is a Law & Business Graduate who is known for her music and has worked with notable names such as Inkredible Music, Delirious Productions and Ian Green.
Her single – Sondela, was on the charts for 12 weeks and at Number 1 for 6 weeks on South Africa’s Gagasi FM. The multilingual singer, has performed alongside award-winning Dj Zinhle, Legendary Thomas Mapfumo and Winky D.
A recent spokesperson for the African Union’s Youth-Led Program, on how she uses music to impact “Youth-Led Solution for Building the Africa We Want”, Valee is determined to help bring about change through her music.
In 2022, she is set to release MALI, a track that combines the synergies of melodic beats by Unlimited soul with her rich deep soprano vocals, telling a story about the pursuit of happiness where one yearns to achieve their ultimate desires.
Phil Chard (Entrepreneur & Content Creator)
Phil is an award-winning entrepreneur, content creator and marketer who is passionate about the African entertainment industry and empowering African artists and creatives.
He is an award-winning Blogger and Podcaster who has been working in that space for the past decade via The African Hip Hop Blog and 2 Broke Twimbos.
He is the Managing Director for Point Black, a boutique digital marketing agency that focuses on helping clients reach their customers in the most efficient ways possible.
With his agency, Phil has worked with Pizza Hut, Jameson Irish Whiskey, MultiChoice Africa, Sprite, Old Mutual, Ster Kinekor and many more brands.
He is known for building bridges between creatives and brands across Africa, creating employment and promoting sustainability within the creative industry.
In 2017 Phil was named a Mandela Washington Fellow and was chosen to complete the fellowship at the prestigious Ivy League institution – Dartmouth College, USA.
Nkosilesisa Kewanee Ncube (Film & Television)
Nkosilesisa is an alumnus of Midlands State University, MultiChoice Talent Factory and the New York Film Academy. She is the writer behind DSTV Zambezi Magic’s Jaiva S’bone, The Stealers and Another Wedding?
Nkosilesisa also served as a writer for the first season of the Zambian television drama, UBUNTU which screened on Zambezi Magic from 2019 – 2020. She made her directorial debut in 2021 with an award-nominated short film, Figure It Out which is currently showing on Showmax.
Beyond working in film and television, Nkosilesisa is also a journalist and published author. Conversely, she has written and produced for the United Nations Verified’s Pause and Only Together Campaign.
Her latest work is writing for Bazukuru, the first Zimbabwean series to show on Amazon Prime.
Kuda Rice (Poetry & Storytelling)
Kuda is a storyteller and an embodiment of poetry. His creative self is expressed through spoken word and visuals that are not only abstract in nature but also metaphoric and deeply spiritual.
At his core is the need to portray authentic imagery that brings out the picture of what exists in the spheres of not only Zimbabwean but African communities.
The stories he tells are of the inner truths of himself as well as the external truths of life, mixed with the experience he has seen people go through.
Kuda has worked with the US Embassy in Harare, Shoko Festival, Intwasa Arts Festival, British Council and is a 2 time champion of the Kanyanisa Poetry Slam, LitFest. In 2022, Kuda will be releasing a Spoken Word EP and visuals.
KING HER (DJ)
Born in Harare, dually of Zimbabwean and Japanese heritage, Natsumi Miyata, known as KING HER, discovered her talent for the fine arts at an early age.
While receiving acclaim honours for her painting as well as completing a Diploma for Multimedia and Graphics design, she also discovered her craft in modern dancing and the love of music.
KING HER is a mixed Fusion DJ who has embarked on taking her majestic selections of EDM with Afro Sounds to the world. In 2015 she charted on various online platforms, even reaching the height of the top 5 on Mixcloud Electronica Mix Charts.
Her DJ Mixes “Slayed Selections” and “X-Files” were aired in 15 South African gyms nationwide. 2016 saw KING HER becoming the Brand Ambassador for Qualito Craft Distilled Vodka.
In 2017 she launched her KING HER STORE and also collaborated with French Music Producer – Yonea, leading to her releasing a Trap Hip-Hop song – Revenge.
She has partnered with Castle Lite, Vic Falls Carnival, SPAR, Cookout Zimbabwe, Harare International Festival of the Arts, Unplugged, UNFPA, Zambezi Lager, World Health Organisation and Embassy of Sweden.
Methembe Walter Ndlovu (Dance)
Born in 1996, Methembe Walter Ndlovu, popularly known as BLINKO is a Masters Drama Student at the University of Pretoria. Over the years BLINKO has made a mark in the entertainment industry primarily as a dancer and choreographer for various artists, encompassing live performances as well as music videos.
He is the head choreographer for South African rapper Rouge and has also worked with musicians such as AKA, Manu Worldstar, Moozlie, Big Star Johnson, KWESTA, Emtee, Tumi Tladi, DJ PH, TBO, OfishalXavier and Ntukza.
As a performer, he has featured at the South Africa Music Awards, Castle Lite Unlocks and choreographed the Castle Lite Show Season 2. Blinko is passionate about the arts industry as a whole and aims to grow in all disciplines in the arts.
As far as acting is concerned, he was featured as an extra in the SAFTA award-winning film, New Era Sessions, playing the role of a nurse.
Moreover, while doing his Honors, he staged a show at the University of Pretoria in which he wrote, cast and performed. The piece was a hybrid of dance and acting which spoke on various socio-economic concerns plaguing the African youth as he subjectively viewed it.
Rudo D.M. Manyere (Blogging & BookTubing)
Rudo is a Zimbabwean award-winning writer, booktuber, bookstagrammer, blogger and aspiring screenwriter based in the UK. She is a published writer in an anthology titled Brilliance of Hope, a publication that was released under Carnelian Heart Publishing House.
She runs a YouTube channel called What’s Rudo Reading? which reviews African Literature from African authors all over the world.
Her main focus and goal with the channel is to shine a light on the outstanding authors from the motherland who have incredible works.
She believes that our African narrative should not be restricted or boxed to fit the white gaze, but should highlight and show who we are and what we want our literature to look like.
“I started reading because I felt displaced, and reading books by Africans made me feel seen and also encouraged me to write and review.
As Africans, we deserve to have different genres and should not be “restricted” to poverty porn to be considered good writers. We deserve romance, sci-fi, fantasy and many more genres”- Rudo
Munashe Chirisa (Actor, Comedian & Writer)
Born in Zimbabwe and moved to the United Kingdom at the age of 17, Munashe holds a Performance Arts Degree in Film, Stage and Television from New Buckinghamshire University.
His professional Stand-Up comedy career began at university in 2013 where he was the resident comedian at the African Comedy Show which featured some of the best comedians from Africa. Munashe has appeared in several UK theatre productions such as Dr. Faustus, Stop And Search, A Silk Of A Thousand Spiders and Volpone.
He has played a number of roles on screen, including lead roles on the Amazon Prime video TV Campaign for Marvellous Ms. Maisel, John in John, a film by Kat Anderson.
He is the first Zimbabwean actor to have a feature role in a Bollywood cinematic movie – Time To Dance. His most notable recent work came in the form of hilarious mockumentary – Real Housemaids Of Zimbabwe, which spoofs the Real Housewives franchise, in which he writes, directs and stars as multiple characters in the series.
Munashe is also the Co-Founder of MADE IN ZWE, a creative media and lifestyle cultural community brand at the vanguard of global Zimbabwean entertainment and culture.
Mantate Mlotshwa (Youth & Women Advocate)
The 26-year-old Bulawayo born is passionate about the meaningful participation of women and youth in democracy and governance processes.
Mantate is the Program Lead for Arts4Change, a creative arts and media program under the new Narratives for Accountability in Zimbabwe, a joint initiative of Accountability Lab Zim, Magamba Network and Kubatana.
She is the Founder of a creative fashion brand U Motle, premised on affirming and curating African culture and women through fashion. Mantate coordinates LeadGirls2School, a girls education and mentorship initiative supporting rural girls in different provinces in Zimbabwe.
Every year on her birthday, she coordinates a fundraising initiative to address one challenge faced by her community. Her signature project was the 2020 Water My Roots campaign which saw her drilling a borehole in her city of birth.
This year she raised funds to send 26 girls to school. Mantate has done a lot of work with diplomatic, civic and cooperative institutions in her quests to involve women and youth at all levels of influence.
Joshua Knowledge Chapata (Abstract Expressionist Artist)
Known as Josh Chaps K, Joshua uses emotions and colour to create artworks inspired by Africa cultures and day-to-day living and modern-day griots who are willing to preserve the African Culture.
He is the Founder of Ckreative Inc, an arts and crafts company under which he operates as a solo artist that advocates for realisation and use of individual gifts and talents.
Josh uses his art as a form of therapy, thus allowing individuals, corporates and schools to use art as a form of natural relaxation and advocacy tool for mental health.
Josh Chaps K has had a solo art exhibition in collaboration with Alliance Française de Harare, live drawing sessions at The Mesh Events and The PiChani.
He has had his work being commissioned by the Mugabe family, the Former first lady of Zambia – Mrs. Mwanawasa, Berkshire Hotel Zimbabwe, Muzeezo Mupati, Afrolynk Ghana and Go-Getters Movement.
Nomakhosazana Khanyile Ncube (Architecture, Fashion & Cultural)
Nomakhosazana is an Award-winning Fashion Designer, Innovative Architectural Designer, blogger, entrepreneur and cultural activist.
She is the founder and creative director of A Tribe Called Zimbabwe, an award-winning brand whose thrust is to celebrate Zimbabwe’s culture and heritage through fashion and architecture.
Her brand specializes in cutting-edge cowhide fashion and reimagines tribal fashion in the 21stcentury. Nomakhosazana boasts of being the winner of the 2021 Bulawayo Arts Award Outstanding Fashion Designer and Africalight Foundation Best Fashion Designer.
She has a love for people and is interested in the spaces in which they exist. Nomakhosazana strongly believes that for one to be pivotal in creation, one needs to be self-aware and environmentally aware.
Talking about her work she highlights how she wants to design and bring to life infrastructure and cultural art forms that are not only masterpieces but speak well in the expression of beauty and the uniqueness of Africa.
“I am in the business of culture. I sell dreams and memories. Without culture, there is no Africa. I package culture into products our generation can relate to.
Our culture is valid. It’s worth innovation and a seat at the business table. It’s worth a showcase and a stage” – Nomakhosazana.
Lamech T. Gowero (Photography)
Popularly known as That Travolta Guy, Lamech is a Zimbabwean photographer and brand strategist based in Harare. Travolta started working in the creative industry in 2017 and dabbles in all forms of photography from portraits to product and brand campaigns.
He is the Head Honcho of Vigorous Youth, a collective of young creatives who are making strides in the Zimbabwean creative industry.
He has been instrumental on a number of visual projects in Zimbabwe through his Vigorous Aesthetics brand, working with household names such as Killer T, Ishan, Poptain, K Chaps and Music Director – Simdoc, just to mention a few.
As a creative in the purest sense, Travolta is an African storyteller, true to himself and his experiences in Zimbabwe. His honest, heartfelt, and emotive pictures come from these experiences.
He has been involved in charity initiatives through African Is Ours (AIO) and Entrepreneurship, Arts, and Innovation Hub (EAI Hub) organizations.
During the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown Travolta was part of an intervention that initiated virtual classes with well-established businesses affording them a platform to interact with upcoming entrepreneurs.
He is also the Creativity Program Leader at IGNITE YOUTH organization which helps youth to discover and nurture their true purpose through peer-to-peer mentorship programs.
Mandipa Masuku (Lifestyle & Tourism)
Tourism has a lot of angles, twists and turns, but one thing about it and its purpose is that it brings cultures and experiences together.
Mandipa does that with her food festival – Munch and Sip, an event that gives access to food enthusiasts and entertainers to meet in the most unique ways.
Since its inception, Munch and Sip has attracted over 5000 attendees who come from across Zimbabwe to attend the event in Bulawayo after every 4 months.
What sets her platform apart is the will to use tourism as a social-economic phenomenon to get people to experience entertainment out of their usual environments, creation of employment for performers and small food businesses who sell food at the event.
She is also the founder of Green Slab Ecopak, a food packaging company that uses elements such as bamboo, corn starch and recycled plastic to create packaging products.
Indigo Saint (Conscious Rapping)
Indigo Saint is the moniker for 29-year-old 3-time Zim Hip Hop Award Winner – Mzwakhiwe Ngwenya who started his musical journey in 2010 in Bulawayo.
While studying at the University of Pretoria in 2011, Indigo Saint was exposed to the Hip Hop and cypher scenes which in turn nurtured and influenced his style. In 2016 he was listed second on the MTV Base Top 10 Hottest MC list and followed that up with a double EP titled “The Blunt EPs” which was inspired by the tragic loss of his friend in 2015 as a result of suicide.
The project has since been used to start and continue conversations around Mental Health issues in and around Zimbabwe. Following the success of The Blunt EPs, Indigo Saint was presented a Zim Hip Hop Award for Best Underground category.
He is an avid advocate for Mental Health Awareness and is the founder and developer of XOXA, Zimbabwe’s first free online counseling platform, an initiative created and funded through the sale of his music and Asila Mali Apparel.
Indigo Saint has since used his influence to bring up the underground scene in Zimbabwe through Cottage #47, a hub that focuses on the development of artists by providing them with opportunities to record in studios and perform at the hubs events.
Lienne Shonhiwa (Entrepreneur – Haircare)
Lienne is a multi-award-winning entrepreneur, psychologist, supply chain specialist, wife and mother.
She is a Mandela Washington Fellow, CBZ YEP Winner, ZIMTRADE Eagles Nest Winner, with over a decade of professional experience in supply chain management.
She started off with customers before she even had a single product, a true testimony of when fate and passion collide. Her company, Manetain Organics is a multi-award-winning hair care establishment that manufactures hair products for natural hair, using indigenous ingredients found in and around Zimbabwe.
Listed in the biggest retail supermarket in Zimbabwe, TM Pick n Pay, Manetain Organics is known for selling out products proving how big and loyal the customer base is.