Obama applauds Zimbabwe empowerment activist’s courage

ABBIGAL Muleya’s journey to America that started with a seven-hour bus ride from Binga to Harare became United States President Barack Obama’s anecdote of determination when he addressed 500 Washington Fellows during the Presidential summit on Monday at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington DC.


Muleya is attached to Tulane University in New Orleans as part of 30 young Zimbabwean leaders who were selected to participate in the inaugural Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, an initiative Obama announced in 2013 as part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (Yali).

Obama first launched Yali in 2010 to support an emerging generation of African leaders as they work to drive economic growth, enhance democratic governance, and strengthen civil society structures.

The US President who received a standing ovation as he kickstarted the three-day summit said: “One young woman from rural Zimbabwe took a five-hour bus ride, then another six-hour bus ride, then another seven-hour bus ride — a two-day journey — just to get her interview.

“So today, we’re thrilled to welcome you, our Washington Fellows, to an exchange programme unlike any other that America has ever had with Africa. And among your ranks is that young woman from Zimbabwe who endured all those bus rides. So we want to welcome Abbigal Muleya. Where’s Abbigal? Where’s Abbigal? Where is she? There’s Abbigal. That’s a lot of bus rides,” Obama said to laughter by the audience.

The soft spoken confident young woman studied African Languages and Culture at Midlands State University in Gweru graduating with an honours degree in 2009.
She has worked as a community volunteer in Binga before her formal employment as Projects Officer at Zubo Trust, a women’s empowerment organisation working with Tonga-speaking women in Binga.

In an exclusive interview, she narrated the ordeal of how Internet connectivity in Binga threatened to defer her dream.

“The Internet was a challenge to me. The online application meant that I needed reliable connectivity. The Econet dongle I used was a nightmare. I had to wait until everyone had retired to bed to get some form of connectivity. That happened for many days until I could finish the process of applying,” Muleya said. “When I was called for the Yali interview by the US embassy connecting to Harare was my second impediment. As the President has rightly said I had to take many bus rides that started with a 9pm journey.”

Muleya said she had a difficult childhood and her parents struggled to pay for her secondary education.

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  1. madzimba chengeta

    congratulations dear…may your dreams come alive

    1. Congrats young lady….. pamwe zvatakatadza muchatiitirawo. I support you. I salute your effort

  2. He was saying that she endured a lot of buses/ kombis to get there. Where is she?

    1. Collin Mudyanadzo

      she is in the USA for the summit

  3. Well done Abiggal. You surely have done us proud. One of the few Midlands State University graduates that have ploughed back to the rural communities that created them. May God grant you the desires of your heart as you carry on with this passion that propels you.

  4. Misleading headline as always Newsday

  5. muvengwa munondivengerei

    [The US President who received a standing ovation as he kickstarted the three-day summit said: “One young woman from rural Zimbabwe took a five-hour bus ride, then another six-hour bus ride, then another seven-hour bus ride — a two-day journey — just to get her interview.]

    Been to Binga. Binga to Cross-Dete 150kilometres=five hours. Then Cross-Dete to Bulawayo =270kilometres=six hours. Then Bulawayo to Harare = 439kilometres=seven hours.

    Sum dzacho dzirikubva dzandinetsa kuti dziri kufamba sei.

    1. Who wouldn’t believe about transport woes in Zimbabwe except idiots like you. Maths… what maths are you talking about. You are paid a dollar but you spend 200 dollars a month. .. itaka maths dzako

      1. muvengwa munondivengerei

        Moyosvii. Who is the idiot? A bus ride means being in the bus. Wish her the best but a bus ride means being in a bus for the given period you idiot.

  6. congradulations

  7. Prosper ncube

    Does obama know binga? How can he talk about binga when he has never been to zimbabwe? These are pure lies to tell the fact

  8. Who is Obama.It seems like the young lady has seen God.Its a much blessed opportunity to see Hon Mugabe than to see the Obama.Ngwarai vana veAfrica!!!.

    1. Iwe enda unoona Mugabe wacho. Warambidzwa here.

    2. Shame on you

  9. peter chikunya

    kufarira nekuremekedza mhondi is itself unAfrican

  10. congrats mwanakazi mubatondezye nkukoko

  11. @ muvengwa, In a journey what ever delays u come across that time z included up to the time of arrival. Meaning tht if she got a lift frm Binga to Cross Dete 156 kms and waited for 2hrs to get another transport to Byo, those 2hrs are counted in that journey. Remember she was not driving her own car. Usanyanye hako kunetseka ne samu

    1. muvengwa munondivengerei

      Very nice. Check for the meanings of bus-ride in any dictionary then engage me again.

    2. muvengwa munondivengerei

      @ Rev – Very nice. Check for the meanings of “bus-ride” and “waited” in any dictionary then engage me again.

  12. Inhau here kana inyaya???

  13. Thomas Matate Jack

    Mwari huyai wanhu waye watanga kutukanaa

    May God bless my sister.

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