Guramatunhu on why Africans must stick to natural hair

Guramatunhu (SG) was speaking to Alpha Media Holdings chairman Trevor Ncube (TN), who is also the host of the In conversation with Trevor show at the inaugural Ideas Festival  at the end of October.

Eye specialist and philanthropist Solomon Guramatunhu says he is pioneering an academy that will teach young people to be proud of who they are and inspire them to change Zimbabwe’s fortunes.

Guramatunhu (SG) was speaking to Alpha Media Holdings chairman Trevor Ncube (TN), who is also the host of the In conversation with Trevor show at the inaugural Ideas Festival  at the end of October.

Below is an excerpt from the conversation:

TN: The  Ideas Festival is about celebrating ideas, and paying attention to ideas that have potential to change and celebrating those amongst us who have embarked on change one way or the other.

My brother, Solomon has done quite a lot of things, I mean we might get into those as we go along, but Solomon is doing something right now which is absolutely exciting.

There was a ground-breaking event for the Solomon Guramatunhu Academy, after all that Solomon has done Solomon is deciding to start an academy.

And Solomon I thought we would start there, why are you doing this?

SG: Well you know Trevor we are in this world for a very limited time and there [are] some things that we are very passionate about, and I am very passionate about creating a society where everybody has the basic needs met.

In other words a father can say his children go to a good school, they get good health, a family can have three meals a day but this whole thing to me depends on the mindset that we have.

And looking at our society, and also other societies that we visit all over the world I came to the conclusion that our hope lies with young people.

 That is where our hope is. I always joke with my friends and I say that people my age, my generation, our mindset is damaged goods, beyond repair.

 Therefore, we have to concentrate on the young and this academy focuses on four things: First I think we start off from ECD before they go to Grade One.

And these kids, one has computer literacy, number two they should have financial literacy so by the time they go to Grade Two, Grade Three, Grade Four, they can trade on the stock markets all over the world.

Three, blockchain technology, and I am a strong believer in blockchain technology, I think that is where the world is going and I think kids must start much earlier on.

 Number four, which I think is critically important, they must know about themselves.

Who are you? Your history, your culture, your religion, because I think without that we are lost and that is why I think we have most of the problems that we have.


TN: So where are you now? You have broken the ground, where is it for the benefit of the people that are around here? Where is the academy? Where was the ground broken? And how soon do you open?

SG: Yeah. I got 20 hectares in Nyabira and the ground breaking was a few weeks ago and I am pleased that professor Arthur Mutambara was present at the ground-breaking ceremony.

 And of course, we are going to rely on people like him, especially when it comes to the blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, and all that new stuff.

They have done the foundation now, right now as we speak they are actually building, and I think the whole of next year we will be constructing.

Hopefully by 2025 we should be ready to start.

TN: And how big is it going to be? How many people are you taking and that kind of stuff?

SG: Well as I say we start off ECD, and then we go to Grade One, Grade Two, and we will be building up blocks like that and we hope to actually connect with other International organisations, for instance Google and then companies like Binance who are in blockchain technology.

 I know what internet protocol is doing at the University of Zimbabwe, KuCoin.

 All these other organisations all over the world, we would like to bring those ideas into Zimbabwe and infuse, inject into these youth a different way of looking at life.


TN: That is absolutely amazing.

Guys I would really want you and I see Prof is out there, for us to interrogate and add value to this to this idea.

What I love about that idea, it is an idea about “from success to significance”.

You wanting to give back to the community. How long has this idea been sitting with you?

SG: Maybe Trevor let me give you the background. You know Mumbai in India; the population is 21 million. Sao Paulo in Brazil the population is 22 million. Beijing is 23 million. Shanghai is 28 million. New Delhi in India is 32 million.

Now think about it, we in Zimbabwe we are about 15 million to 16 million people.

We are not even like a large city.

What do we have given by God or ancestors?

We have diamonds, we have gold all over this country, we have platinum, the third largest deposits of platinum in the world.

 We are told we have maybe 20% of the world's lithium. We have lots of chrome.

We have more than 60 different minerals.

Our soils, our climate, we can grow anything you can think of.

You know we have lots of tea, lot of apples around here. We have coffee, we have cotton, we have sugar.

But look at our poverty. We even have cholera today.

So we have to ask ourselves but why? How can that be?

We go to Singapore, they do not have any minerals, they do not have any real agriculture.

Fresh water they are buying from Malaysia.

 So we need to ask ourselves but why?

 And that is why I looked at my generation, my colleagues, and I thought maybe the answers won’t come from people like myself and my friends, we need to start with youth who have a different outlook, who can say I'm an African [and] I am black and they are proud of it and they have got the confidence.

 What we need is self-confidence, self-worthiness, self-respect and self-love.

That is what we hope to cultivate.


TN: Yeah. My sense, I agree with you, and I am going to posit something and hear how much you push back.

I believe that you and I are damaged goods, but quite a lot of people here actually are also damaged goods and that the safe age right now is about 13 [years old], those teenagers.

That if we focused our attention on cleaning up that generation this country has a future.

 Otherwise you and I are sitting down here talking like [this] as damaged goods and these damaged goods are listening to us, we need to go a bit further down.

What do you say to that?

SG: Well, that is why we're starting the academy.


TN: Right.

SG: I think we need to start much earlier. And I have to thank you.

 Remember the last time you interviewed me, women wanted to kill me because I was talking about natural hair...


TN: Are you going to go there? Are you brave enough to go there?

SG: Let me tell you. It is interesting because here at Troutbeck, that's the first time I spoke about this.

The reason I speak about it, it is not about hair actually, it is not about skin, it is deeper than that. It is the mindset.

You are talking about (Rwanda President Paul) Kagame. When you sit with Kagame, look at his wife, look at his daughter.

 It sounds trivial, but you know it is so important to know who we are, because I am the one-man Trevor and whenever I speak I always say the black woman is the most beautiful woman walking on planet earth with her natural attributes.

Her natural hair, and natural skin.

And remember, the children look up to the mother, to their teachers, to the headmistresses, to the aunties.

So, it is a whole thing, we take it lightly but I think it is not light actually, it means a lot.


TN: So, you, by the way, colleagues one of the things that Solomon did when he got into this hotel: the lady who welcomed him at reception had a wig on and Solomon sat down with her for 15 minutes haha.

You are pretty passionate about this?

You have been attacked, I was attacked for having have had you on the platform again.

Zimbabweans, if you disagree with somebody you are not supposed to sit with them?

 I sat with you and listened to you. You and my wife fight over this issue of hair, and what women are saying is that it is none of your business.

SG: Yes. Right. It is none of my business. You know when we were growing up you remember ladies they were applying Ambi?


TN: Yes.

SG: Skin lightening cream? It was none of our business, it was their choice, it was their right.

You know of course what happened.

Their skin was burnt, and it is irreparable. There are some choices which are born of ignorance.

There are some choices which are smart choices because people are informed.

Now it is something, you know I get kids who come to me and say Ah doctor you know I want to go to university but I do not have any money.

It is none of my business, but it becomes my business.

And with the exposure and education that I have, that we have all of us, you travel to India and you see them harvesting that hair from dead bodies and you see them in the temples harvesting that hair, sacrifice to the gods and in any case, and I speak this in Shona I always say to people (speaking in Shona) “we as black people when we cut our hair we throw it away, we do not keep hair in the house...We do not do that because it is dirty...How dare we buy other people’s dirty cut hair from India and Brazil and elsewhere...?”

In any case people must understand this.

 We are trying subconsciously to be like Caucasians, (speaking in Shona) “with hair like white people, skin like white people...White people have that kind of hair” because it is a biological to their environment.

 It is a cold environment, therefore nature gave them that hair to stay warm, to keep warm in that environment.

(Speaking in Shona) “It is similar to a sheep in this country and sheep overseas” so you find over there when you go to Europe they have wool, and that wool is a biological adaptation to that environment.

If your sheep go to Europe today they will die of cold because they do not have wool.

What we are doing as black people seriously is like sheep that are here (speaking in Shona) “sheep that are saying they want to be white like the European wool”.

No. Here it is hot, and you have seen this, women going like this.

 You know you can say Guramatunhu it is none of your business, shut up, but I look at this.

And friends of mine, I remember there was a Professor Alan McGregor from Kings College, he said to me, Solomon what is happening among your people?

They got beautiful hair your ladies.

Why do they put these things on? In the end I said well Alan you know you guys colonised us, enslaved us, so we are trying to be like you.

That is what I said.

 And I think we can take it lightly, but what we are trying to do with the academy is to change this thinking to think other people are better than us, their hair is better than us, their skin is better than us.

 No. As a black a woman you can be bold like Miss South Africa and look like a goddess.

You can have short hair, you look cute, clean, you look young.

You can have an afro, you can have straight hair, you can plait your hair, you can have (dreadlocks).

The other races do not have what you have, you have the best.

TN: Solomon do you think there is something wrong with the message or the way you're delivering the message?

What feedback are you getting?

SG: Well if you look in here, just in here today, most of these ladies are natural. 99.9%.

Before I spoke about this you saw 10 ladies, nine or eight or nine would definitely have weaves or wigs only one or two would have natural hair, today is the opposite.

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