Fungai Takes February by Storm

Fungai Tichawangana humbled the CreativeMornings Boston community last month with compelling stories of young innovators and entrepreneurs from his home country of Zimbabwe. Fungai, Harvard University’s Nieman-Berkman Fellow for Journalism Innovation (can you say that five times fast?) gave voice to a generation of creators when he founded ZimboJam - Zimbabwe’s leading lifestyle, arts and culture website. 

Fungai opened a window into Africa’s creative and innovation communities for us and it was downright inspiring. We were so lucky to get even more magic from him for the blog, so read up bb!

As a master multi-media storyteller, how do you evaluate which stories to tell, when to tell them and how to tell them?
One of the things I try and do in my work is tell the stories of young people doing amazing things in spite of great odds. If we can place these stories on the same pages as stories about well known people who drive lots of traffic, then we help create new audiences and support structures for young innovators.

Has your time in Boston changed you as a storyteller? If so, how?
My time here has enabled me to step away from daily deadlines and meetings to refocus, learn new things and meet some great journalists and digital media innovators from all over the world. I feel invigorated to go back and share what I have learnt and try new things.

Accountability was a recurring theme in your presentation. What do you think is the most effective way to create accountability for leaders?
It starts with how we educate our children. Unfortunately, too many of us were educated to always say yes to those who lead us, to believe that because someone dresses better than us or has more money than us or is from a different social class then they have all the ideas. Constructive dissent and critical thinking are not encouraged. Accountability belongs as much to the person asking for it as the person giving it. If we do not relentlessly seek it, we will not get it.

One of the lessons from young Zimbabweans you highlighted is “keep learning.” What’s the most valuable skill you’ve learned in the past year? What are you looking forward to learning this year?
The most valuable thing I learnt last year was actually not a skill. I learnt that it’s important to work hard, but it’s just as important to get to know people. Like they say, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” I’ll also add, “It’s how you know them too.” Americans are masterful at leveraging relationships to get things done.  This year? I’m currently learning about trans media documentary at MIT and it’s opening up all sorts of doors in my mind. 

How can the creative community best create opportunities for others?
I have found that simple things like sharing links to resources online, can make a big difference. A friend of mine calls it ‘voting with your click.’ That’s one place to start. Another way is to create communities and groups that meet face to face and not just online. Human interaction is the stuff of magic and the more we can bring people together to share ideas, argue, ask questions and spark each others flames, the better. 

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Check out Fungai’s website for updates on his current projects and watch our video if you missed out on the OG magic.

Photo courtesy of Dan Powell