Today Vongai sits down with Nyasha Matanda, a creative at the core with different talents and gifts. Nyasha, founded a skincare company that formulates products that are safe for babies with eczema and dry skin conditions. She is also a dancer and member of the ZimThrive Initiative as well as a mentor undergoing leadership training. An LLB with Business Graduate with over ten years of healthcare regulation experience, her most treasured gift is the gift of Motherhood to two beautiful girls.
Special offer: 10% off with promo code ZIMEXCELLENCE
My First Book of Shona and Ndebele Words
Thoko Wake Up! Thoka Muka ! Thoko Vuka! (Saanrize)
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie*
Daring Greatly by Brené Brown*
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle*
Everyone communicates, few connect by John Maxwell*
*The following is an affiliate link. If you decide to make a purchase using it, I may receive a commission that helps support the show. Thank you in advance. :)
Unlocking Us with Brene Brown
School of Greatness with Lewis Howes
Strong Black Legends with Tracy Clayton (Netflix’s Strong Black Lead)
Intro : Yo! Welcome to the party! Hello! Makadini. Salibonani. My name is Vongai and you’re listening to ZimExcellence, a weekly celebration of Zimbabwe’s changemakers and trailblazers. So here’s the secret y’all Zimbabweans are actually DOPE AF and it’s just time that we recognize it. So grab yourself a plate of sadza, grab that Stoney ginger beer and let the party begin!
Vongai: Welcome to another episode of ZimExcellence. Today my guest is a mother, mentor, business graduate and founder of Silkebee Skincare. As featured in Harpers Bazaar, the skincare company formulates products that are safe for babies with eczema and dry skin conditions. Aside from being a Business Graduate with over ten years of healthcare regulation experience she is also a dancer and member of the ZimThrive Committee. However out of them all her most treasured gift is the gift of Motherhood to two beautiful girls and we actually do have a special guest today. [laughs] who has decided to tag along.Please welcome Nyasha Matanda. Nyasha, it is so great to have you on the show.
Nyasha: Thank you and this is Zuva Rae. I’m putting her back.
Vongai: For the listeners who can’t see because I only record audio so far, Zuva came by camera and she was looking hella gorgeous and ready for her close-up. She is fabulous.
Nyasha : Thank you, thank you for having me. I really really appreciate it.
Vongai : I’m so happy that you’re here. It’s gonna be a party and speaking of I have to get this out of the way. So besides both of us being fabulous amazing Zimbabwean women, accomplished Zimbabwean women. We are both dancers however I feel like you are the dancer who does all the moves and choreography and all the pop-locking but I’m the dancer who’s at the function like ‘Whoo this my song, this my jam!’ and I run to the dance floor and do whatever I want to do. [they laugh] So I felt it was important that I should share that. We’re both dancers but we’re different.
Nyasha: I think there’s a dancer locked in every single being.
Vongai : Yeah I feel like. I think especially being Zimbabweans there are always these functions so you’ll have those relatives being like ‘Imi vuye mutambe’ (Y’all come and dance). And they’re like pushing the kids to go dance even if they don’t wanna dance. My mom jokes….because I’m from the Spice Girls generation. I tend to age myself every episode, I don’t know why I do this to myself but yes I’m from the Spice Girls generation. And my mom was just like ‘Yeah you used to dance like a white girl, I taught you how to dance.’ Sorry I’m from the Spice Girls generation.
Nyasha : Well see, it was still dancing. I say there’s a dancer locked in each and every one of us but specifically as Africans because it’s part of our history. It’s how we used to pray and connect to God, so it’s whatever way you’re gonna do it, it’s locked in there somewhere, somehow.
Vongai : That is so true. I actually never thought of it that way. So thank you for that powerful reminder. Anyway. So first things first I’d love to talk origin story with you because you are a ZimExcellence superhero and every superhero has an origin story. So I know you now live in the United Kingdom, where were you born?
Nyasha : I was born in Mbuya Nehanda hospital.
Vongai : Yes I was born in Mbuya Nehanda hospital. Legends only y’all. [leans in] Legends only.
Nyasha : [laughs] So my parents actually met here in the UK. So they were here during colonization and they were friends from back then. In fact they would send money towards the liberation struggle. They used to get together in committees and raise money towards the liberation struggle. So soon as Independence hit they were like ‘We’re out. We’re out [Snaps fingers] we’re going back’. And that’s how I was made. Yeah so I was born and I’ve been back and forth to the UK ever since.
Vongai : Ok so how’d you get from being born in Mbuya Nehanda hospital, [leans in to mic] legends only y’all legends only – to being fabulous mentor, business graduate, mother supreme and skincare CEO fabulous lady in the United Kingdom. How did we get from point A to point B?
Nyasha : It’s a long story but I’ll try and give you a bit of a snapshot. So my mom moved back and became the first Black female environmental health officer and she inspected before they opened up Sam Levy’s. She gave Sam Levy’s he go ahead, open and be fabulous and do what they need to do. But she was always back and forth for education but she decided to move back here (the UK) when I was about fourteen. And so we moved back. And the also the economy in Zim wasn’t the greatest at the time. I did my education and when it came to choosing degrees I did want to do something creative but I’m African and you don’t do that. So I ended up doing an LLB business degree and I went to London and did that. Got a job as. Once I’d finished I couldn’t find a decent enough job so I found myself in health care regulation. So I started with the osteopaths and I used to work with in fitness of practice kind of looking at cases where maybe patients hadn’t been treated fairly and investigations into practitioners who were a bit unscrupulous. So yeah that’s how my experience started. Started with the osteopaths and then I went to the nursing and midwifery council. Same thing protecting the public from unscrupulous nurses and midwives. And worked for NHS litigation for a bit and then now I work for the regulator for hospitals. So independent hospitals and NHS hospitals. Now I had my first baby. This is now more like the extra bit. The entrepreneurial side was always in-built because of my LLB business degree. I had my first baby and she had really bad eczema and I’d taken her to the hospital. Took her to the GP, they gave emollients, they gave all the emollients under the sun and they weren’t working until the doctor said to me, ‘Ok I’m gonna give her a steroid.’.
Vongai: To a baby!
Nyasha : Right? To a child six months old, how is that gonna work? I said to myself there has to be something else and I remember reading up about natural remedies. Trying to think about implementing that into her routine. And what basically happened was because I’d actually gone natural myself. I’d been chemically straightening my hair for years and years and years. I think a few years back I was like ‘You know what I’m gonna learn how to do my hair’, YouTube is there. Everything is going on. Shea Moisture is there. [chuckles ] I’m gonna figure this out. Me and Shea Moisture are gonna do this. So I’d kind of looked at you know the coconut oils and I thought let me start using this on her skin. Yeah so that’s when I just figured what works. Coconut oil is great for itchy skin. Shea butter is great for cell turn over. You know beeswax is great for kind of protecting the skin from any allergens. Putting that all together for my first balm which was the baby balm. I used to go to mom and baby groups and the other moms were asking. What did you use and so forth. Luckily my mom had gotten me a book called, ‘How to make your hobby a business’ or something along those lines. I’d have to look at it again but it was basically detailing how you can’t actually give natural skincare as a present and stuff if you make it in your kitchen. You cant just hand it out so you have to get it cosmetically tested. So I thought. If I’m going to get it cosmetically safety tested I might as well make my money back somehow. Know what I’m saying? I’m on maternity leave. I make this and I’ve always wanted a business. Maybe this is it. So that’s what I did. Got it cosmetically safety tested and created my business dream that I’ve always had. I had it since I was ten. I was like I want to be a businessperson because then I can do charitable stuff. So that was my thing. Yeah that’s how it started and now the business is up and running for about 6 years now. And then the dancing has always been a thing that I enjoyed doing. I went to Dominican Convent Harare and I used to –
Vongai : That’s the school that I didn’t get into. [laughter] and my father who is a Catholic was devastated and my mom was like ‘No worries she’ll get into Arundel’ and I got into Arundel. And I was only there for two years and then moved to China. Hey! Take that. [laughter]
Nyasha : Ha! Yeah Convent was a little picky. I think it probably helped that I had a Scottish accent cos I’d started school in the UK and when I went there the head mistress was Scottish. So I was there and you know…ooh a bit of slight nepotism there girlfriend. So that helped. You know. [pause] I used to do ballet but then obviously on the weekends at the parties you know. I was dancing Kwassa kwassa. Dancing to you know rumba with the people and your mom and stuff. And I was so competitive then and it turned into that thing where at home when I was a teenager and I was in a mood or whatever. I’ll go upstairs and put on Destiny’s Child, and be like singing ‘I’m a surivivor!’. Or whatever else.
Vongai : Yes obviously! And Sclub 7 because why not. [laughter]
Nyasha: See it became my comfort, it became my release. It became my go to place. During uni I was up in da club, I would be battling, poppin’, lockin and doing performances here and there in variety shows. And once I became a professional woman it was obviously Friday night drinks, Saturday night in the club or whatever. Same thing. Same M.O and I was like after I had my daughter and it was when I was going through it with her father and I started to having certain weekends or time when she was away. I was like what is it that I enjoyed? It became a healing thing. What were the things I loved to do before? What were the things that, healing that inner child. What is it that I loved to do? What is it that comes naturally to me and why am I not doing that as a career?
Vongai : It’s so interesting you bring this up because I just finished up this 16 week mindset course which literally changed my life. I got in through a diversity scholarship so I did it for free. And we had this one week where you reconnect back with your inner child and writing letters, forgiveness work and unworthiness stuff and meditations. It’s just so interesting, the stuff that you did as a child, you come back to as an adult. A child just knows and the outside world and maybe parents and school or whatever. Society can push you away to say ‘No don’t go down that path’. It’s scary, it’s uncertain, it’s this but the child just knows. I want to head back to our holistic health kind of thing that we touched on. So it’s so interesting that you brought up that you went on a hair journey and it convinced to learn how to do your hair and make projects. That’s what ended up helping your child. So I feel particularly drawn to you because you skincare is natural. And y’all make this a drinking game in case we keep saying natural through this whole conversation. Anyway so my own holistic health journey started in 2011 with my hair. I was relaxed since I was 3 and I didn’t know what my hair looked like and I’d just come out of hospital and I just kinda had some downtime. Stumbled on to the natural hair movement section of YouTube and just went down a whole rabbit hole of learning what lye (relaxer) does, sodium hydroxide and different chemicals and the fact that hair straightening comes from this slavery. This idea of being as a light as brown paperbag or having a comb pass through your hair you’d be free. All of that stuff. And I remember after my hair it then took off and I started looking into what’s in our make-up, what’s in our skincare and basically any products I could use on my hair, teeth and skin. And I was keeping a diary and as I learned about different ingredients and how they affect me especially my body and my hair history, it was so illuminating. Like oh why? Why is this? And seeing the correlation and seeing also the science behind it. For instance parabens in deoderant or parabens in general and how they’ve linked that to (breast) cancer. Hormone disrupting chemicals and all of that. So I. You’ve already partially answered this but I wanted to ask when did you first feel drawn towards natural products, holistic health and also environmental sustainability because I believe the packaging for your products is recyclable. Which is amazing especially because people forget. We’re in a million different pandemics but we are still in a climate crisis. So please reduce, reuse and recycle if you can afford to.
Nyasha : Probably in my mid-twenties it was when I
Vongai : She’s still in her twenties though y’all. [laugh] We don’t age ourselves on this show. I’m still a teenager and she’s in her mid-twenties.
Nyasha : In my mid-twenties last week [laugh] I similarly had the same sentiment in terms of not knowing how to style my hair. I remember when I started to get the new growth in, when you relax your hair. I would just be sitting there and constantly touching it and almost falling in love with the growth and thinking “I gotta straighten it now and I don’t want to do it’.
Vongai : Cos it was curly right? Just soft and curly. I did not know what my hair looked like until I started that journey. Everyone was like what are you doing? You can do your hair. You can do braids. Like there was this whole thing about if you go natural it means you do braids or you wear wigs. Like whaat? Who said that?
Nyasha : You don’t need to do that. So that was- when I finally decided to take that natural journey, it echoed the same sentiment of taking my identity back and getting to know who I am. And girl I was getting burnt. I was like feel the burn! I was tired.
Vongai : I love hair at the front of my head and it was from braids. How tight they would make them because they would take the teeny hairs and put them into braids when they don’t need to. They’re baby hairs. Let them be babies. Or let them be short. It was only 4 or 6 months into my natural- Drink- hair journey that it started to grow back and I would have like my maininis and different aunts say ‘Oh you have hair there? That’s amazing’ because for them it’s like it was just gone. For most people it’s gone.
Nyasha : Alopecia for life. That’s just what it is y’know. We lose our hair at the front that’s it, pop a wig on and cover it up. Yeah in terms of climate change I was always aware of that because my mom was like I said the first Black female environmental health officer in Harare. So even back home in Zim, you know you’d see people chucking stuff out of their cars. And my mom would be like ‘Musadaro!’ (don’t do that!) Know what I mean? She’d be like I can’t believe these people don’t understand. She’d go and inspect places likes Mbare and you know trying to raise awareness about just the sewage systems and so forth. You know pollution and just people dumping things here, there and everywhere. So I was always alert and aware in regards to that. So moving to England it was just a continuation and then it peaked to a different level when obviously my daughter. At that time I was living in London. I mean London’s very polluted, the levels of pollution in London are very very high. So in terms of just discovering her allergies and what it was that was triggering them. What was in the food, what was in my detergents. Where I’m staying yes it’s a flat but it’s a building that’s been split into three different flats so therefore there’s loads of UV rays from everyone having a different internet provider. Little things like that. Then people speaking about ‘Oh yeah I went to Zimbabwe and my child’s eczema went’. Yeah because the internet is one place and the garden is the other place and the child is outside most of the time. So understanding all of that. That return to nature and actually nurturing nature and nurturing our environment is where we need to go because we’ve been needing to go there and it’s just a continuation like I said in my life it’s been a whole lifelong awareness and it just literally peaked with the birth of my first. I think after that, after a while I tended to start moving into the country. Now I live in a small village in Staffordshire where at some point I lived in Essex near farms and stuff where the air literally does not smell like pollution and you do not feel like you’re suffocating from just like walking down the street. You can take a job without your eyes watering.
Vongai : Yeah it makes a huge difference. In New York I lived right by this big park and then there’s the Hudson River. It’s just my happy place to be near trees and water and it just makes me SO happy.
Nyasha: Yes, yes. So that’s where my awareness peaked was after the birth of my daughter but understanding the environment and knowing the environment because of my mother I was aware of it.
Vongai : I believe you use coconut oil, shea butter, peppermint which is my favourite and um no you don’t use rosemary. For some reason I keep putting that on you but that’s in my hair products [chuckle]. When you’re sourcing the ingredients where are you sourcing them from and do you have good relationships with the people or communities that you’re getting them from.
Nyasha: At the moment I’m quite small business and I source locally. They might have gotten some of the products from – especially if it’s shea butter they’ve gotten it from Ghana and so forth. I source locally because then I can guarantee the integrity of my products because then it’s certifiable for UK standard and also it’s less transportation from sort of saying ‘It’s coming all the way from Ghana’ to come to here. Yeah so I have suppliers within the UK who I use. Any way so the products that I source I use suppliers that are local. Just in terms of transportation and emissions and so forth then it keeps those down. My dream obviously would be to be able to start to have links within Africa and actually production within Africa. Then again you’re just keeping things local and also creating jobs for disenfranchised people and so forth. So that’s where I’m kind of looking at things. Looking at my distribution line and so forth but yeah sourcing is local because I want to guarantee quality of the products and standard of the products until I can obviously say I’m going into Ghana and I’m meeting wonderful women who make the shea butter or the coconut oil and so forth and I’m bringing it in myself. At the moment it’s local yeah. How many times I say local?
Vongai : Drink!
Nyasha: Y’all say local? I said local
Vongai : We endorse drinking water. Mvura. Drink your water. It’s good for you
Nyasha : Yes amhanzi please yes.
Vongai : So earlier you were talking about y’know how people would say their children’s eczema disappeared as soon as they went to Zimbabwe because y’know being outside is so crucial. I don’t want to generalize this. Certain generations and modern living has had people shunning indigenous practices or old family remedies that people know work. It always like ‘Ew why would I do that when I can go into the pharmacy and take this thing’ or whatever right. Then people are shocked when it’s appropriated and it turns into the latest fad and we’re all doing it but it was like no it was doing we had done. I wanted to touch on the fact that your mom then reminded you that what you were doing is what your grandmother did in Bulawayo right?
Nyasha: Yeah yeah. So that day oh my gosh. It was that thing where I think my mom would look at me like a bit of a freak. Bless her. [laughs] Cos my grandmother’s dead y’all. And she passed when I was 5.
Vongai : Oh wow.
Nyasha: Yeah. So it’s not like she sat me down and said ‘My darling this is how we do it and. This is, this is how you make healing products. And I have to say it was an act of God, it was an act of divine and it’s so humbling. I remember mom kind of giving me the book and telling me, ‘Oh yeah so here’s a book, have a read about how to turn your hobby into a business. I know you’ve always wanted to do some sort of businessminded something. Even though she never really approved. She was very sort of academia academia. But she was like [African accent] “Ok you and your business here is the book, go read it” figure it out. And she said to me you know this is what my mom used to do, my mom was creative and she could sew, she could cook. My grandmother has 11 children and she was married for over 50 years and she was just that quintessential homemaker and obviously just figuring out that it was a situation where somehow some way beyond that gift has somehow translated and has come to me. And I now have a responsibility to delve into more of the knowledge and so forth. So my grandparents had farms in Kwekwe but they used to live in Pelandaba in Bulawayo. So they would travel to the farms and they had workers and everything which was quite different during colonization but somehow. So they’d get their produce from the farms and my grandmother would obviously back home make stuff and they’d have a farm shop within the township within Pelandaba. And she would use the produce from her farm and she’d make soaps and creams and so forth. And people would go to her if there were issues and was a woman as they call mukadzi rwemurwadzana the women who wear the uniform at church and stuff like that. So she was all the way connected to God and all the way blessed within her marriage and had loads of children. And yeah that’s just how she lived. So she pops up in dreams and so on and so forth.
Vongai : We love that.
Nyasha : Yeah she’s definitely a guardian angel and I’m definitely appreciative of her. But then finding out that I come from a long line of of healers in that sense. And, obviously, it's been demonized, hasn't it? Yeah. So trying to accept that and trying to learn what that means for me. Who I am and how I will then carry on. And how then I will teach my two little girls and whoever else if I have any more children. Their heritage and carry that line on.
Vongai : This idea of passing traditions, across different generations,
Nyasha : Right
Vongai : Which is beautiful, which isn't like this thing that you set out to do. It's just this thing that you then learnt about. I forget where I heard this from, but I heard this thing that, you know, when you look back in your family history, you then tend to find someone else who had similar gifts to you or who you're, you're drawn to this idea of doing that ancestry work, and canceling, like healing, ancestral trauma and generational trauma, because certain lessons are karmic lessons. So then they come back again and again. And I've just been so curious, because a lot of people in our family in my family are in the nursing industry in the UK, and got some family in South Africa. And then my parents, like my mom's an environmental lawyer, my dad's a diplomat. To my knowledge, I am the first artist. Well, the first not the last artist in my family. But I'm like there has to have been someone else. And who was this person? And how many generations ago was it? And which line was it on? Was it on both lines? I don't know. But I did learn my my paternal grandfather, who I never met, I think he died when my dad was in his 20s was really good with languages. And I've always been really drawn to languages. So I find that connection there. And then my maternal grandfather was left handed, but then he was forced to write with his right and I'm left handed.
Nyasha : Right. Yeah, they would have had their creative gifts built in and been forced to vote with the right hand is obviously stamping that out.
Vongai : So I'm curious, I'm like, Who's the other actor, you know, or like, because if we're talking about like, We're going back generations actor wasn't the thing, it would have been the person who told the jokes or the stories. Or wrote the stories or whatever within the community and passed them down.
Nyasha : So that was one thing that my mum my mum was saying was telling me about is that when they would go to the farm, they would all sit around the fire or whatever else and sit down. And you know, and my grandmother would tell ngano stories, basically, so that would have been in built within our culture as it is anyway. You know, you go to that old ambuya, or sekuru or whatever. And they will tell you the stories, and that's why I'm saying we need, that's what this podcast means to me. These are the nganos, these are the stories because we don't sit down with our kids and kind of say, ‘Okay, come come, darling. Come, come. Let us sit down and I'll tell you a ngano.’ And they’re like ‘Mommy what’s a ngano?’. Right?
Vongai : I don't even have my parents tell me ngano. I think it was like when I went to I guess y'all would call it junior school when I went to primary school here in Zimbabwe, and then you're learning there's tsumo and ngano and something else. I’m like what are these things? It was in Shona class, and then I come home with homework.
Nyasha : Yes Madimikira.
Vongai : Yes madimikira as a word scared me. I always felt so intimidated because Shona. So my parent, my two Zimbabwean parents grew up speaking Shona to me, but I would reply back to them in English in my British accent. My accent used to be super duper like British London posh. Like it confused people. Confused Black people, it confused white people. They're like, Where are you from? Why you sound like that? Anyway, so I would reply back in English. And I actually did not know I was doing this until we moved to Beijing. And all my friends who I went to an international school were like, why is it that your parents talk to you in like a different language, but you reply back in English. And I'm like, wait, I do that. But anyway, to go back, so it was when I was in Shona class. This was just like Shona class for everyone. But when I was aat Arundel, I was in Shona L2, because technically, Shona is my third language, because I learned, I spoke English first. In the UK, learnt French. And then like coming back here, and then learning the shona that I knew wasn't real, Shona, if that makes sense. Like, yeah, so it was like a whole thing for me. And I'd come home with my shona homework and be like, what does this mean? I need help with things like these really obscure Proverbs, like a monkey doesn't swing from a tree. Like stuff that I can't even translate, you just kind of have to do it in your mind. You can’t put it in English, you kind of have to make sense of it in the language. Which is like, you know, similar with French, you do that. And I had one teacher who wanted us to buy Kwayedza, which is the Shona Shona newspaper, and my mom would drive everywhere around the city and my dad, and they'd be like, we cannot find this newspaper. Why does your teacher. But it's…we're probably going off a tangent here, because it's me. That's what, that's what I do. But it's funny, we joke about this and at the same time, like there is this serious conversation of preserving these different indigenous languages, especially because I believe they're like 11, in the Zimbabwean constitution. (Correction there are 16). , And I thought there are only two, three, I thought it was like English, Shona, Ndebele. Like, no, there's Ndau and there's this and Venda. And yeah, this idea of like, we need to be preserving these languages. And everything is in English, which is good on one hand, because it allows people from different tribes to communicate. But then on the other hand, it doesn't really help with learning these languages. I had this conversation with a former guest. Well, a previous guest Yeve Sibanda, she wrote the book, My First Book of Shona and Ndebele words. And I was telling her when I moved over to Harare from London, this idea of I had a lot of relatives and just like, just a lot of Zimbabweans coming to my parents were coming at me like ‘Hatauri, Shona’. and this this this. And we change as people every seven years. So around like seven, we're starting to make sense of how the world works, like differences, whether it's gender, or racism, or whatever. And so it was very just clear to me that like, Oh, I'm different, and it's, it's almost being perceived as a bad thing. And because I'm constantly hearing Hatauri, Shona’. The way it was being said, was almost like, out of a place of shaming. And so then it made me as that eight year old girl, just want to rebel and say, Well, I don't want to learn this language anyway. You know, rather, but I love that we're coming into this beautiful time where we have these great resources to empower our children to learn Shona and Ndebele, or any other language under the sun. In a way, that's cool. That's like, oh, you're, this makes you unique. This, like gives you the upper hand, and also just for the fun little thing of like, you can gossip with your family members in public. You can cuss someone out and they won't know. Like, what are your thoughts on raising multicultural and multilingual children? And also knowing this, you know, this idea of they’re first generation technically, right? They'd be like, oh, first, yeah. First generation. What are your thoughts on that?
Nyasha : Oh, yeah, I. It weighs on me quite a bit. And my thing is, I just have to ensure that they, you know, they go home as much as I can possibly take them home. And immerse them in the culture and the way of life and the language. Obviously, kids pick up the language quite quickly. That's that's what I'm going to do. But even just this morning, I'm obviously my little my little one would listen to sometimes I'll pop on, put on them YouTube, Coco melon, and also Coco Melon has Nursery Rhymes or sing along together. But today I was like, looking and I found, you know, same same sort of quality and everything. I found nursery rhymes i Shona, ones that I didn't even know myself. Yeah.
Vongai : Oh I love that. I don't know any I'm learning.
Nyasha : right? So my six year old comes in. And she was like, oh, I've never heard of this one. And you know, and I was like, yeah, and, and I know, she's she gets these moments where she really wants to learn the language. So I’ve got books in Shona. You know, wherever I've seen books. There’s one Thoko Vuka. And she's an ex convent girl.
Vongai : Yeah. from Saanrize, right?
Nyasha : Yeah. Saanrize. Yeah. So I've got Thoko Thoko vuka. And another one basically the words, ladies here in the UK. So I've got that one. So my six year old learns, she’ll be like, Mommy, what does that mean? And what does this mean? And she’ll be like ‘Mwana (baby) ? mwana? Mwana! Shush mwana. ‘ [laughter] and Mwana’s just looking up at her like [drool noise].
Vongai : I love that. Like, I said this to you before. Before we were recording, that I'm the adult version of your kids because even though I didn't have these, like empowering resources that I'm talking about, my parents still do, you know, the best job that they could. And like my mom, when she was dressing me, she'd be like, ‘See maoko (hands)’ and all of that. Like, she tells me the stories of like the Shona, I would speak where I would, I would just be like. So you know how Pisa means hot.
Nyasha : Right. Right.
Vongai : So I think maybe I didn't want to like, I wanted to touch the stove. You know how kids are just like they get to that age, I forget what age it is where they just exploring, and they want to like feel in touch and just all of the senses. And just I want to understand this because they're so curious. And I think my mainini (aunt) who lived with us at the time, wanted to make sure that I didn't touch the stove because I would burn myself. So she would say Pisa hot like telling me like it's hot. Don't do it. And so I then ended up just calling things pisa hot. Like hot was its own level. And then pisa hot is the next level. [chuckle] Until this day, sometimes I like do it. I'm like, Oh, it's pisa hot. And I'm like, wait, what are you saying? Like, I'll stop myself. And I'm like, do you know you're saying hothot?
Nyasha : It’s hot hot mm.
Vongai : Yeah, my, yeah, my mom's like, you were a weird child.
Nyasha : You are literally my daughters in the future. I do try and speak as much Shona, obviously to them. And these are some of the things obviously with the developmental stages where you're speaking to health visitors, they'll ask you is there second language because that might slow speech and it's all those things where you're like. Okay, so I must I'll just stick to English and then Shona will come later. You know, that's kind of what I did with my first. Other with my second I’m trying more to kind of just be like, okay, dude I’m going to speak to you in Shona. And when mom comes around to help me and stuff like that, she she's there like, you know, speaking to her in Shona and stuff. And you hear her saying things like Gogo Gogo (granny , granny ) Gogo Gogo. Y’know and she knows that Gogo is Gogo. Both of them know that Gogo is Gogo.
And my six year old when they do show and tells she’ll be like ‘Me and my Gogo did this’ and then y’know the teachers are like “Gogo?” and she’ll say “Yeah my Gogo”. “Is that your grandmother?” “No it’s my Gogo”. [Laughter]
Vongai : I love that. We all have our words. There's like Yaya. And Gogo and Abuela. Grand-mere. Yeah yeah.
Nyasha : So I will try as much as possible. What helps us out obviously there's books and there's cartoons coming out. And there’s things. And I love that because growing up they weren't Black cartoons were they on TV. We were watching things like Voltron. I don't know what era you're from, but I was watching things like Voltron and Captain Planet, and I did not really see any black faces on there. I love the fact that most of my daughter can be like, Mommy, she looks like me, you know, Jojo and Gran Gran, which is on BBC. She's like, Oh my god, she looks like me. Whereas now I'm starting to find obviously find the Shona cartoons and the Shona nursery rhymes and stuff. And I'm just going to instill as much as I possibly can. That's all I can do and have have that opening at home. Obviously, mom has still has property in Zim. And, you know, maybe maintain that and keep that and be able to go home and if not home then South Africa, you know, and kind of keep some sort of indigenous language and identity going as much as possible. That's something I’m gonna try. Yeah.
Vongai : I love that. The only Black animation that comes to mind is Little Bill.
Nyasha: Ah yes Little Bill.
Vongai : Yeah [sings] Little Bill but otherwise, as far as because I also was on was the CBBC. The Children's BBC growing up, I think there was like, rasta rats or Rasta cat or something, which now I think about it may have been racist. Rasta mouse!
Nyasha : He was still on there. Yeah, I don't know if he's on there anymore. But he was on there with my six year old. Rasta mouse. Yeah. Yeah.
Vongai : Cuz like at the time, I was like, Oh, this is kind of cool. He's like Jamaican he skateboards. But now I'm like, why are we using the term rasta? And why is he a mouse? Right? What are we trying to say? So I’m like, was it? Was it racist? How have you been able to practice your culture, and cultivate a sense of community, whether it's like a Zimbabwean community or just like your community of mums to support you or the community of like, from the beauty industry and beauty bloggers and all that stuff? Fun. Fun fact. I actually I was a hair blogger. Once upon a time. Yeah. And I go to what's that event? It was called like beauty something live and it would happen during going holiday. Yeah, I forget what's called it. Yeah,
Nyasha : I'll come back to that. It’s not Shades of Beauty live is it?
Vongai : It was like, beauty and hair something live it was like, it was like a huge, big Expo and they and at the time, I thought it was so great, because they had the hair people from America. And then they also had local UK people.
Nyasha : My community? I've got a lot of communities. So ZimThrive is one of my communities. Y’know, Zim diasporans doing their best to try and, you know, do whatever we can to either invest in Zimbabwe. Y’know, over the COVID period, money was raised to pay for nurses within Parirenyatwa. Supplies, we’d send supplies for COVID. In terms of the music industries, we've got some, you know, Zimbabwean music execs who work here in England, who are working with artists and showcasing artists up and coming talent. So we just everywhere.
Vongai : They’re the Illuminati, I'm joking. They're everywhere. They're listening right now. They're in my house, I'm scared.
Nyasha We’ve got actresses within ZimThrive. So that's, that's, you know, the wider community, but the people are in Dubai or they're in America, they’re in Australia, they're in China. And we find ways of corresponding and working together all in the hopes of one day COVID allowing, doing the month long festival and actually being on the ground in Zim. And collaborating and working and showcasing the talent that we have, you know, we've got journalists within BBC and so just so that's one community. I'm on the Arts team. And as I mentioned earlier with the dancing when I eventually started going to master classes and stuff, the London some of the dancers for choreographers for like, you know, WizKid and so forth. And Childish Gambino. Sherrie Silver went to her master class and, you know, she was just like, just start, doesn't matter how old you are. Just don't just put yourself in YouTube, put yourself out there. You don't know what will come of it. If this is something that you've always wanted to do, just do it. And that's how I just started popping myself on Instagram. And through doing that, that's how I was called to the Arts team for ZimThrive. That's how that worked. And then my community in terms of just being Zimbabwean, my mom having been here in the 70s, she still has friends. I've got loads of family like her siblings are all , she’s got quite a few siblings here. So there's a massive community of cousins and family and friends of the family from back then that people just that have just stayed in touch and have become family for me. And trying to another thing of like, maybe just the more local communities that you know, that Zimbabwean shop that we go to, and we get, you know, my daughter loves sadza. So we got get sadza and go and get cream soda. And, you know, she loves it. So she's like, Oh, can I have sadza today? So this there is to some sort of identity and community for her and having loads of sort of cousins and friends of families, children who are the same age who are Zimbabwean as well. There's a lot of that understanding. And then my natural skincare community is more so to sort of when I go to Shen I was saying shades of Beauty Live was thr skincare community, the hair care community. I made my friends there. Made my fellow Natural Skincare, entrepreneurs or makers and don’t know if you've heard of Mauyu.
Vongai : I so as I you know, I'm a I call myself a detective. People are like I feel like you're a journalist, and I'm like, No, I don't use that label. I’m a detective. So as I'm like scrolling through your, like insta insta to brainstorm some really good questions to ask you. I saw a picture of you guys together at at an event and I was like, Oh, what is this? And then I started following them. And I was like, Oh, cool. Um, haircare. I want to learn more about them. Yeah so I'm always really surprised about you know, how much we're doing as Zimbabweans and how spread out we are and, and. I guess I'm redefining what it means to be Zimbabwean. And where Zimbabweans are allowed to show up. Like, I'll blow my mind and be like, wait, there's, there's a Zimbabwean surgeon. Oh, there's a Zimbabwean making skincare. There's Zimbabwean haircare lines. There's a wine company like and that is what made me start this podcast. Because I'm just like, there's so many of us doing so many amazing, great things and inspiring things. They don't even have to be at like the huge, famous, like, highly recognized level. It can even be you know, very small, indie. But I would discuss this with other people or other Zimbabweans. And people would be like, No, I don't know about that or this or this. And I'm like we need we need to find some sort of way to showcase that. And it's so interesting, you know that you have these groups and initiatives like Zimthrive or the team at MADEINZWE. And just there's there's a group on Instagram called IncorporateZim who reached out to me. There's, I forget, but like, there's so much happening that I'm like, it's it's a lot to keep track of. But it's great that it's happening because everyone has their own audience, but I just wanted something for myself to kind of find a way to like you, like you said before we started recording. An archive, an archive of our stories, and also a way to show and record and a place like one place to go to, to see representation. To be like, Oh, I want to be inspired or, oh, I want to see what's possible for me. I'm, I'm waiting for the day that I find out there's a Zimbabwean astronaut somewhere like I'm just waiting for that day.
Nyasha : Yeah, there's no limit now, for us.