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Nyasha Chidzero

By Sayaspora

The McGill African Students Society (MASS) annual 4th Africa Development Convention ended this weekend. This year their theme was “Africa” Interrupted: Switching the Channels of Development Discourse. With five events over three days spanning a broad range of issues, the convention aimed to deconstruct the idea of “development and underdevelopment” and offer an alternative space to discuss art, media, literature, performance and African knowledge production as means and ends of development.

Since it was founded, the aim of the convention has been to create spaces for Africa-centered development discourse as well as to propose non-hegemonic/non-Eurocentric alternatives to our understanding of development.

This year’s convention organizing committee was made out of six remarkable students women of colour who took it upon themselves to create this much needed space. It was refreshing to see women of colour taking and owning their place, despite the historical erasure of women of colour’s activism.
These six  women are Marilyn Vergis, Nyasha Chidzero, Jackie Bagwiza, Sedi Soga, Shana Tanyaradzwa Musimbe and Jingla-Fri Tunteng.

Today we are introducing Nyasha Chidzero!

SAYASPORA: Can you please introduce yourself?

NYASHA:  I’m an undergraduate at McGill studying International Development Studies, and minoring in African Studies and English Literature. My interests are pretty broad but all related to problem solving and understanding the nature of various systems and ways of being. I am particularly interested in education, the way we learn, and how what we learn affects our life trajectories and the way we develop as people, communities and countries. I enjoy volunteering with schools doing extra mentoring courses and really comparing the way classroom and learning is set up here in Canada compared to where I grew up in Zimbabwe. I am also passionate about creative outlets which is why I decided to keep up a literature degree, and enjoy painting and sketching from time to time, when I get the chance.

SAYASPORA: What were your motivations in getting involved with the Africa Development Comittee (ADC) ?

NYASHA: I got involved in the ADC because I enjoy questioning, experimenting and connecting things. Some of my best experiences have been in the organisation of workshops, panels and seminars, because I enjoy facilitating settings where people are able to come together and communicate on topics they wouldn’t traditionally cover from day to day. Other than that, I was inspired to get involved in steering the convention because of the opportunity to meet a group of like-minded people and learn from their experiences, which I imagine we all did. I also wanted to explore my own understanding of many of the subjects we covered in a more practical space than the classroom – to put the theory into action in a way.

I hope that many people came out of the convention with new ideas to bring into their research and work, and a new way of conceptualizing the way we place and speak about African countries in our lectures at McGill and in general.

“I think leadership is too often thought of as being in a visible position of control. To me leadership means being in a position that allows those working around you to bring out the best in themselves in terms of manifesting successful ideas, events and creations. It means being aware of your own capacity and the ways in which various skills complement the capacities of others. It means being a community-builder.”

SAYASPORA: Can you tell us more about the panel you were responsible of organizing and its importance in our development in the African context?

NYASHA: I was most involved in coordinating the climate change panel “Climate, Action and Accountability: Narratives of Environment in African Development”. It really came as an afterthought in about November to include it in the program. We had spent a lot of time conceptualizing many necessary topics, but I had never really thought about the fact that no one ever questions the climate change narrative. In a lot of media it’s really seen as another means to go in and save Africa from certain disaster, but on the other hand, living at the edge of a changing world environment in that way should be the perfect opportunity for communities in African countries to develop a means of charting a new course toward what they need from development, new industry and technology, and sustainability. For Africa particularly, where the concern over mitigation is not as pressing, I believe a lot more focus and effort should be put into Research &Development around adaptation mechanisms and developing new models of organizing industry, technology, agriculture and so on. I was proud of the way that panned out, and surprised at my own learning in the process. I’ve really come out of that with a new set of perspectives for viewing the way different ads from various organisations including the UN and WHO discuss and talk about the effects of climate change. I also learnt just how multifaceted an issue it was, as there was a lot of talk about the tensions between scientific narratives, politicized narratives, environmental activists, market narratives and so on. We had an amazing group of panelists come out and speak to the ideas that surround climate adaptation work and an outstanding facilitator, Nnedi Nnebe, who really flew with the concept and delved into her own learning on the various topics covered. That more than anything, allowed us to bring out some great responses from the speakers. There is still a lot left to be learnt but the themes of the convention have been a great starting point. I hope it was equally engaging for many of the audience who stopped by over the three days.


Nyasha Chidzero avec son équipe

ADC Committee.
Pictured (in order): Jackie Bagwiza, Jingla-Fri Tunteng, Sedi Soga, Marilyn Vergis, Nyasha Chidzero and Shana Tanyaradzwa Musimbe. Photo credits: McGill African Students Society

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