Yali Profile : Community Activist pushes for grassroots voice in development

Media and community activist, Divine Dube applied for the Mandela Washington Fellowship because “I realized that the fellowship invests in the capacities of young leaders like me, whose dream is to bring social change to communities and I also saw the fellowship as a platform to share my experiences with likeminded people who share my vision to bring profound social development to Africa”.

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The MWF is a President Obama initiative that seeks to young African leaders who are passionate and bringing real change to their communities. In its second year, Divine has been selected as one of the 30 participants.

Divine will spend his six-weeks at Wagner University in New York where he “expects to hone my skills in civic leadership, interface with America’s finest social entrepreneurs and gain new insights, particularly in the field of communication for development, which fits well in my future career trajectory.

Divine currently works for Plumtree Development Trust where he is currently working with communities in Plumtree, Mangwe and Bulilima to “promote networked communication and participatory journalism where ordinary citizens are able to gather, package and share user generated content among themselves through mobile platforms”.

Divine also runs a Community Multi Media Centre (CMMC) in Plumtree, incorporating internet facilities and a community radio initiative dubbed Getjenge Radio. This information hub facilitates public participation and social inclusion through bringing communities together to share information and discuss issues that affect them and subsequently engage leaders using evidence based advocacy.

Divine believes that media can be leveraged “to develop poor Zimbabwean communities through responsible coverage of community issues by the current crop of scribes and their media houses. On a broader perspective, he believes that the media can be used as a portal for the development of fragile African States, Zimbabwe included, if its potential is well harnessed, especially in the wake of the boom in ICT-based mobile communication which enhances citizen participation and State engagement with rights holders”.

Divine also uses off-air radio programming to help citizens speak to ‘power’ on issues that affect them. These programs are packed in compact discs, car modulators and memory sticks and shared with a variety of listeners that subscribe to the Getjenge CMMC. He is also working on a radio project with Mobile Community Zimbabwe (MCZ) and Zimbabwe Association for Community Radios (Zacras) whose aim is to empower historically marginalized communities to tell their stories.

Upon his return from the fellowship Divine will continue in his humanitarian efforts and “plans to set up Information and innovation Hubs in Mangwe and Bulilima – in order to scale up existing efforts to facilitate access to information for rural communities and to amplify their voices on issues that affect them”.

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