Farai Mubaiwa is a leader, activist and African feminist. She is currently pursuing an MSc in the Political Economy of Emerging Markets at King’s College London. Farai has also co-founded the NGO Africa Matters which aims at changing the narrative of Africa in the eyes of the youth. In 2017, Farai was a recipient of the Queens Young Leader Award.
Why do you believe that Africa Matters is important in this day and age?
I and the co-founders believe it is important as we need to appeal two needs; firstly, we need to change the perception of Africa. The perspective that Africa is poor and corrupt needs to change. Secondly, we need to change the narrative for the youth, if the narrative doesn’t change then they will grow up believing the negative perception of Africa. It’s important because we need to show the world why Africa matters.
What programs are offered by Africa Matters?
Africa Matters offers two main programs: The Africa Matters Ambassadors Program and The Schools Leadership Development Program. The Ambassadors program selects 9 ambassadors from Rwanda, Namibia, Kenya and Zimbabwe. It is a one-year program; 8 months is an online course where ambassadors learn about African leadership, African feminism and soft skills in order to mould them into youth leaders. The ambassadors are also equipped with mentors that support them with career guidance and assist in growing their leadership style. We have a range of mentors from different sectors that assist the ambassadors. After the 8 months, the ambassadors have to implement a project within their community. Each country is facing different social and economic issues so each project is different depending on the issues that their country is facing currently.
You were influential in the #EndRapeCulture at Stellenbosch, how do you see change coming about with regards to gender-based violence? How else should women go about creating change?
It is sad that we have to resort to marches for something as serious as this. How many marches? How many hashtags? How many more deaths before something is done? The way that we go about this needs to become more engaging with the youth. I hope we will change; gender equality is necessary for both genders. The role of government needs to increase especially with regards of institutional cultural and religious beliefs. Universities need to start addressing this issue from grassroots. I think there needs to be a sexual harassment or consent course with every person every year at universities and you cannot graduate until you pass it. We need to start from the bottom.
What have you found challenging about managing Africa Matters as well as doing your masters in London?
It’s still challenging now- it’s a lot! But I like to keep busy and I like to maximise my potential at all times. Time management is crucial, I want Africa Matters to grow and I also need work experience. I also know I want a great Masters so I need to be aware of my limitations. There are times when I need to take a step back and spend time with family and friends.
How would you implore young South Africans to start making a change in their community?
I would first tell them to do a leadership program at Africa Matters. It is by young people for young people, everyone is under 30 so we are all in the same life space. You can also win funding to start a program you are passionate about. I would also tell them, no one is going to make the change for you, not government or the private sector. Everyone has their own objections and goals. We need to make the change and impact. Just do it! I would tell South Africans to link up with people and start it. There are so many different ways to make a change- so stop waiting and do it.
Where do you see yourself in the near future, what plans and goals do you have lined up?
I can’t disclose much but something is happening on the 1 September that I am really, really excited about! I’m in an interesting space and I’m excited to see what happens. I will continue to be who I am, making a change and inspiring change around me. In the meantime, Africa Matters is having a Networking Evening on Thursday, August 23. There will be incredible speakers at the event and I believe that networking is invaluable to a person regardless of their chosen profession.