THIS year’s edition of the Zimbabwe Achievers Awards (ZAA) set for this Saturday at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, London will give special recognition to women blazing trails in the media and arts industry.
BY TIDI KWIDINI
The awards running under the theme, Celebrating Women in Media and Arts, will celebrate five outstanding women who have excelled in the areas that include broadcasting, film and literary arts.
The prestigious awards ceremony, which celebrates its sixth year, will provide a reflective context to examine the achievements of women in the field of media, the arts and emerging technologies.
The ZAA organisers will honour Head of Publicity for Columbia Records, Sony Music Entertainment, Taponeswa Mavunga, Forbes’ Farai Gundan, The Walking Dead actress Danai Gurira, author Petina Gappah and former Dr Who star, Chipo Chung at the ceremony.
The awards chairperson Conrad Mwanza said women have always been an integral part of crafting culture, and now, with the help from the Internet, they were at the forefront of the current “maker” movement around the world.
“Over the years we have recognised various individuals and a number of institutions, but this year we wanted to show our support for the extraordinary work that women do that aim to uplift the community in various ways,” Mwanza said.
“Many women are still undervalued in a number of industries, including business, and we applaud successful businesswomen like Taponeswa, Farai, Danai, Chipo and Petina who are climbing the ranks in their various industries with their passion and energy.”
Mwanza said women have broken barriers and are inspiring the next generation of Zimbabwean females to pursue careers in journalism, literary arts and business.
“From television to holding top positions in a tough industry like music which has predominantly been dominated by males, these women have broken barriers as they continue to make immense contributions to the growth and development of the media and arts world in Africa and abroad,” he said.
“Women have been fighting for equal rights for centuries while there may still be wider issues, women are continuing to break the mould and are emerging as power-houses not only in the corporate world, but in the media industry, evident by an increase of female directors and producers in the film sector who are influencing major projects and shaping things for the generations of women.”
Mwanza said voting for the United Kingdom version of this year’s awards has ended and the ZAA’s panel of experts are currently deliberating to emerge with the list of winners for the awards ceremony.
Special recognition awards recipients
Farai Gundan is a 2015 Young Global Leader, World Economic Forum and a Dangote Fellow.
Gundan has been listed as the number one top Forbes writers amongst top 10 writers for Forbes.com. She is the recipient of the 2015 Media Excellence Award by African Women Awards and 2014 Emerging African Leader Award by Temple University.
Taponeswa Mavunga is the head of publicity at Sony. She was recruited from Viacom Africa after spending a year as Head of Talent and Music across MTV, MTV Base and the recently launched (in Africa) BET channels.
Prior to this, she was senior publicity manager at Atlantic Records United Kingdom where she oversaw numerous campaigns over the years, including Jay Z, Estelle, Ed Sheeran and Rudimental, for which she won a Music Week Award for Best PR Campaign in 2014.
Petina Gappah, is a lawyer and writer. She has law degrees from Cambridge University, Graz University in Austria and the University of Zimbabwe. She completed her PhD at the age of 26. She works as Counsel at the ACWL, an international organisation in Geneva that advises more than 70 developing country governments on the laws governing the World Trade Organisation.
In 2014, Petina was nominated by the government of Zimbabwe to be a Member of the Appellate Body, the tribunal that arbitrates world trade disputes. She was only the third African woman to be nominated since 1995, the first being her mentor, Ambassador Amina Mohammed, currently Kenya’s Foreign Affairs and Trade minister.
As a writer, Petina uses both English and Shona. Her first book, An Elegy for Easterly, was awarded the Guardian First Book Prize in 2009, an honour she shares with Dambudzo Marechera, who received the Guardian Fiction award in 1979.
The book was also shortlisted for Zimbabwe’s National Arts Merit Awards for Outstanding First Book, Ireland’s Frank O’Connor Prize, the Los Angeles First Book Award and the Orwell Prize.
Danai Gurira is an actress and playwright. She has starred in numerous films and TV shows, including popular series The Walking Dead.
In 2007 Gurira starred in film The Visitor for which she won Method Fest Independent Film Festival Award for Best Supporting Actress. She has appeared in films Ghost Town 3 and Restless City. From 2010 to 2011, she appeared in HBO drama series Treme. In 2013, Gurira played a lead role in director Andrew Dsunmu’s independent drama film Mother of George, which appeared at the Sundance Film Festival.
Gurira has also written and starred in a number of Broadway plays. Her 2009 play, Eclipsed, which starred Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o made it to Broadway from Off-Broadway. In January 2016, it was announced Gurira had been cast as Tupac Shakur’s mother Afeni Shakur in All Eyez on Me, a biopic about the rap star.
Chipo Chung was trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, UK and graduated in 2003. She is known in science fiction circles for her work in Doctor Who where she has appeared in several episodes. Other TV appearances include, The Last Enemy and as a reporter in an episode of Sherlock.
In 2011 she had a recurring role as Vivian, an indentured servant at King Uther’s court in the drama series Camelot. She appeared in the 2015 British TV series Fortitude as Trish Stoddart. In the same year she won the acclaimed role of Mary Magdalene in the TV series, AD The Bible Continues. The show was hailed for its international and multi-racial casting and opened to 11 million viewers in April 2015.
Chipo co-founded alongside founder Nick Reading, the charity SAFE-Kenya which develops theatre for social change in Kenya, focusing on HIV education and abolishing clitoridectomy. She currently sits on its Board of Trustees. She works closely with the charity Peace Direct in support of Envision Zimbabwe, a women’s trust that works towards consensus-building and peace in Zimbabwe