Giraffe Heroes Zimbabwe

Giraffe Heroes Zimbabwe was launched with the purpose of moving more and more citizens of that country to “stick their necks out” for the common good, and to give them tools to succeed. The new organization follows similar groups launched over the last three years in India, Nepal, Sierra Leone and Egypt. Although completely independent, all are inspired by the work of the Giraffe Heroes Project, founded in the US in 1982.

From the Desk of the Chairman

terry m1
 Terry Mutsvanga, Chair, GHZ    
My name is Terry Mutsvanga and I am the Chairperson of Giraffe Heroes Zimbabwe. It is my pleasure to introduce you the GH Zimbabwe (GHZ) Chapter. Although the concept is still in its infancy we believe that we will grow big. We have just honored two new Giraffe Heroes, namely Tasara Wamambo and Melanie Chiponda. The two have been honored for their outstanding contributions in defending the rights of the people they serve in their respective constituencies. You can read their stories below.

GHZ  focuses on social and economic rights activists although we do not limit the political aspect. The idea is to honor such individuals for ‘standing up’ against injustice or doing something positive for the community. Just like a Giraffe that keeps its neck high so is the GH.

GH Zimbabwe strives to recognize “unsung heroes” that have positively contributed immensely in society and we hope to leave a legacy of positivity to future generations through our work.

We are  now calling upon nominations for individuals from around Zimbabwe whom you think deserve to be honored for their outstanding contributions inasmuch as advocating for social and economic rights as well as contributing positively in communities they reside in.

Do you know of a fellow Zimbabwean—man or woman, young or old, from any tribal, economic, political, social  or professional background, who is acting bravely ("sticking her or his neck out, just like a giraffe!)  to help solve one of our  country’s pressing problems, including, for example, poverty, poor infrastructure, mismanagement, corruption and enormous challenges in almost every sector of the economy. If you do, email the information to me at Terry Mutsvanga This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Thank You

Giraffe Heroes Zimbabwe, as all other Giraffe Heroes programs around the world, will not take sides with any one political party or ethnic group. Rather, it will find and celebrate the work of those citizens whose lives transcend party, ethnicity and class—people whose work is dedicated to the good of all people in the country, from all parties and all groups. Here are the heroes honored to date:


farai maguwu 
Farai Maguwu


Farai Maguwu, Zimbabwe's very first Giraffe Hero, is Director of the Centre for  Natural Resource Governance (CNRG), an NGO that fights for the rights of miners in the diamond fields of Zimbabwe. Maguwu is a powerful voice demanding that the profits from the mines be used to benefit the people of that nation rather than disappearing into unseen hands. He's been imprisoned and he's watched constantly, but his CNRG goes on monitoring the mines and sounding alarms.You can read his story here. And a recent statement by him here.





betty makoni Betty Makoni is Giraffe Hero #2 in Zimbabwe. Makoni founded and runs the Girl Child Network in Zimbabwe, determined to see that girls there escape the horrors of Makoni's own childhood. In an overarching culture that devalues and abuses girls, Makoni's advocacy has brought her arrests and death threats—it's also brought healing, education and hope to thousands of girls in Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Malawi and South Africa. Read her full story here.





Tasara Wamambo is the Director of Tokwe Mukosi People's Rehabilitation and Resettlement Trust and has been on the lead in defending the rights of the people of Tokwe Mukosi since 2009 until now. In February 2014 heavy rains pounded on Tokwe Mukosi in Masvingo Province resulting in flooding which displaced tens of thousands of villagers. Government and humanitarian agencies response to the Tokwe Mukosi disaster was lethargic. Tasara worked tirelessly to highlight the plight of his community resulting in several humanitarian and government agencies working together to alleviate human suffering in the flood hit area. He is a true Giraffe who managed to stick his neck out at a time the community needed an organizer. Read his full story here.


Melanie Chiponda stands up to mining companies which displace wholesome communities without compensating them. At time when the community needed a voice to fight for what rightfully belonged to them, Melanie Chiponda stepped forward to demand that community rights be respected by the diamond mining companies in her home district of Marange.

As coordinator of the Chiadzwa Community Development Trust Melanie organized the community and prepared them for action leading to the creation of dialogue platforms where community grievances have been brought before the mining companies.

"Diamond mining activities in Marange can only be described as a national disaster due to failure by the mining companies to remit appropriately to treasury and the concomitant human rights abuses that have been ongoing for some years," said Farai Maguwu, Director of Zimbabwe's Centre for Natural Resource Governance. "Melanie is a true Giraffe who managed to stick her neck out at a time the country is struggling to rediscover its lost conscience." Her full story is here.


Dolly 1Dolorosa MubvumbiIn a number of African cultures, women are confined to the kitchen were they are expected to cook and perform all the household chores. Such is the patriarchal system that allows only men to engage in political and social activities, thus depriving the “girl child” access to challenging roles. 

But that seems to be evolving in Zimbabwe as women are now taking up leadership roles in communities they reside. Such women can be found in both rural and urban centers where they are standing up against injustice, defending socio and economic rights as enshrined in the new constitution. One such brave woman is 53 year-old Dolorosa Mubvumbi, a native of Mutoko village in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland East Province. Read her story here.


zimba photoDanmore Chuma. When Zimbabweans voted “Yes” in favor of a new constitution, little did they know that it was just a “worthless paper” that the ruling ZANU PF government did not care to abide to.

Arbitrary arrests of citizens characterized by brutal police torture typical before the ushering in of the new constitution were to continue with civic society leaders being the latest targets of the state machinery.

One such citizen who was caught “in the line of duty” is 34-year-old Human Rights Defender Danmore Chuma who is the National Coordinator of the Youth of Zimbabwe for Transparency and Progress, a civic organization that advocates for transparency and that safeguards and defends human rights in Zimbabwe.

It was during a peaceful march for jobs that Chuma was heavily assaulted (whilst in chains) by the police and detained at a Remand prison for close to a month. His story is here.


Itai Dzamara. “I was heavily assaulted by the police and spent two days in hospital but that hasn’t broken my spirit. I will keep on fighting for what I believe in."

Dzamara 3

Itai Dzamara after attack

These were the words uttered by 37 year old journalist cum human rights activists Itai Dzamara whilst addressing scores of people who had gathered in the Africa Unity Square in Harare’s Central Business District (CBD).

Before the assault, Dzamara had succeeded in leading a peaceful protest in front of the parliament building where President Robert Mugabe was officially opening parliament leading to his arrest.

Dzamara who started the “Occupy Africa Unity Square” Campaign calling for Zimbabweans to gather in the park in protest over the deteriorating economic conditions that have rendered citizens paupers, also handed over a petition calling for the  President  Mugabe to resign. His story is here.


Otilia Bvuma. The HIV/AIDS pandemic that has ravaged Zimbabwe since the 1980s has resulted in millions of children being rendered   

Otillia_Profile-1.jpgorphans.The situation has been worsened by the failure of the government to providethe “safety nets” that are crucial in assisting towards the upkeep of such children.

However a few citizens have tried to assist by providing shelter to these children with a few resources available. 51 year old Otilia Bvuma of Epworth Township has been providing sanctuary to such orphans since 2004 in her township. Read more here.


                Otilia Bvuma

Dick Frey. When Zimbabwe attained Independence in 1980 after 90 years of British colonial rule, a majority of white nationals took the backseat in participating towards participating in active politics or civic activism.Frey_pic.jpg

They were further alienated by the 2000 land reform which witnessed a greater majority of the population loosing farms and other properties .Ever since they have been   playing a “Wait and see game” and it has become so “unusual” to hear of “white activism” in the country.

But that stereotype seems to have been broken by one youthful young man, Dick Frey, a Zimbabwean born white man who has refused to stay aloof as the economy crumbles. Read his story here.


James Bayanai. 31 year old James Bayanai has set himself on a track to make his contribution to change the world through spearheading projects to promote literacy in rural Zimbabwean communities.

Since 2010 James has been involved in International Youth Advocacy and plenty humanitarian initiatives.

Byanai pixIn May of 2010 while working in Cape Town SA for an Internet Service Provider, James Bayanai received a challenge of his life after reading in the Cape ARGUS (a local Capetown paper) about young South Africans who were making a difference in upholding the lives of less privileged in their communities. James decided to be part of the young global change makers.

He came back home and initiated a project to promote literacy in Zimbabwean rural communities. Read more here.



Kennedy Masiye. The Zimbabwe government still violates citizens’ rights despite a new constitution. Human rights defenders, including 

Masiye_pic_pdf.jpglawyers, risk beatings whilst defending human rights violations victims. Kennedy Masiye,  a lawyer with the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), was recently severely bashed by the police whilst attending to protestors who were demonstrating in the Harare Central Business District (CBD) against the country’s worsening economic situation. Read more here.



Beatrice Savadye. Beatrice Savadye is a 27 year old human rights activists and current Director for Real Open Opportunities for Transformation Support (ROOTS) an organization working to promote social and economic justice for young people in Zimbabwe.



Beatrice comes from a humble background where she had to pan for gold at Kitsiyatota and would be a street vendor after school and during school holidays so as to able to raise school fees. This is what spurred to start ROOTS,  empowering margin-alised young people. Read more here.





Charles Nyoni. “I was beaten the whole night by the police but that will not deter me from pursuing the fight for a better Zimbabwe “I am now very much committed and strong in standing up for the rights of my fellow citizens’.

Such were the courageous words uttered by Charles Nyoni following his discharge from a Harare hospital. Read more here.


Innocent Chingwaru. Once a glorious bread basket of Africa, Zimbabwe has suffered economic, social and political instability for

Innocent_Cnhingwaru_pix.jpgthe past two decades, leaving the majority of the ordinary people vulnerable. Government operations like Operation Restore Order (May 2005), destroyed backyard cabins and shacks which were shelter to many as well as small markets for vendors. Many urban dwellers were left homeless, most without means of income or survival. The government did not compensate these people at all yet their human rights were grossly violated. It was during this time when Mr Innocent Chingwaru (38) was passionately moved by the affected people, who were mainly women and children. Read more here.


Gladys Mavhusa. Speaking against state sponsored violence is a huge crime in Zimbabwe. Those who speak out from rural communities

Gladys.jpgdo so at great risk to their personal security and that of their families. The vulnerability of human rights defenders in rural communities is even more severe for women who are still treated as less equal to their male counterparts due to cultural violence. Nevertheless, some women have defied odds and began to stick their necks out to defend the rights of their communities. 

Gladys Mavhusa is one such a woman who has decided to stand up and mobilise the Chiadzwa community against violence and economic exploitation by the mining companies operating in partnership with the government of Zimbabwe. Read more here.


Jerry Madzvova. State security agents who were deployed into the Marange diamond fields between 2006 and 2011 have been accused of

Jerrycommitting gross human rights abuses. These include murder, torture, rape, robbery, extortion and forced labor.  Within a few months Marange, a once peaceful and serene rural environment, had been transformed into a war zone. 

However, not all state security agents became beasts on behalf of the state. Some refused to brutalize Marange villagers and artisanal miners. Jerry Madzvova is one Police Officer who refused to murder or torture people in the name of the state. Read his story here.


Rumeni Forbes Makufa. The rate of environmental degradation due to alluvial gold mining has left the community of Penhalonga devastated. A once beautiful, serene and quiet natural habitat has 

Makufa.jpgbecome ravaged, dusty and made uninhabitable by the mining operations of DTZ OZGEO. The company has caused such environmental damage as has not been witnessed in Manaicaland Province since time immemorial.

Major shareholders in DTZ OZGEO are ZANU PF stalwarts, making the company untouchable. 

Until now, the majority of the residents of Penhalonga had been resigned their to their fate as they feared retribution from politicians should they voice their concerns. 

Amidst the gloom, a man from Penhalonga rose to take the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) to task over the environmental degradation in Penhalonga. His name is Rumeni Forbes Makufa, chair of the Penhalonga Community Development Trust and his story is here.



More stories will be posted as Giraffe Heroes are confirmed.

As nominations for more Giraffe Heroes are received, a broad-based jury of citizens will select which candidates fully meet the main criterion for being a Giraffe Hero—courageous action that serves the common good. Those candidates selected as Giraffe Heroes will have their stories told throughout the nation in newspapers and magazines, and over television, radio and social media. Other citizens will see and hear these stories and be inspired to stick their necks out too. Telling the stories of heroes to motivate others to action is a very simple strategy but it works—as it has in every culture for thousands of years.

Each story will end with a call for more nominations so the cycle is created–nomination–selection–publicity–nomination. 

As the new NGO grows and more and more Zimbabweans learn about it, Giraffe Heroes Zimbabwe will initiate training programs in civic action, including a curriculum helping young people from elementary through university age gain the inspiration and skills to build lives as courageous and compassionate citizens.

Every effort will be made to convince the leaders now in power that Giraffe Heroes Zimbabwe serves them as well as the entire country. It is in the interest of all political parties to support Giraffe Heroes Zimbabwe as a powerful means for harnessing the problem-solving ideals and efforts of every citizen. 


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Snapshots of GHI

Graham and friends in Beirut
Young Leaders in Lagos
John Graham In Geneva
Graham and Sudanese Professor Afaf Al-Haboub in Geneva
jg at tilingatar
Graham and students in Kathmandu