Ngugi Vere: The Rose that Grew from Concrete

 

by Nyarie Munodawafa

Tupac left a work of art that was titled ‘The Rose That Grew From Concrete.’ This has become one of my favorite phrases as it truly resonates with my life and where I come from. Growing up from where we came from, we didn’t have many choices to give us hope, we didn’t have much, PERIOD! and the environment just wasn’t conducive to produce winners. At this point of my life I met an amazing person, happy and jovial then regardless of the struggle, we became really good friends and as life has progressed we have maintained our friendship and I must say I have the utmost respect for this dude. Did you hear me when I said we didn’t have much to fall back on? Yeah, I know his story first hand and how he has gone on to become a barrier breaker in his own right! He took down a system that was designed for him to fail. There were no options for us back then but he broke that system and made options for himself, nature said no but he said I will make it happen, I saw his struggle and I saw him break through and YES Ngugi Vere is that ‘rose that grew from concrete’

Ngugi as you all now know him is a fashion guru, he is a stylist, a fashion creative, a creative director and a producer who has rightfully earned his stripes in the fashion industry. He works with a lot of celebrities and prominent people and is a trusted household brand. His creative brain is to die for and the people who work with him live to tell this tale and so do the accolades that he has gained over the past years. Ngugi also has a heart of gold, he is currently running a Pads campaign to help less privileged girls who are in desperate need of sanitary wear, this is his own way of giving back and I applaud him for this.  He is also an amazing uncle to his nieces, his timeline is filled with their adorable photos (it’s the cutest thing ever), he is a great brother and a great friend.

Losing your mother at a young age is nothing I wish on anyone, I went through it and years later I still break down and wail. It’s tough and as a child, the effect this has on your life can literally break you especially if a mother is all you have. This loss had a huge impact on how Ngugi’s life would turn out and I had to get all the information on how this affected him and the turning point in his life. Ngugi gives us an all-access pass into his life to help us understand where his drives comes from, who he is, his past and his future and what it cost for him to become the man that we all know now.

 

Walk me through a Ngugi Vere day. How does it start off, what do u get up to and at what point do you call it a night? Do you have a morning or evening ritual?

Ngugi Vere aka King Vere wakes up at 6 am, pray for the day, hit the gym or exercise indoors then off to my meetings or studio. Sometimes it’s waking up to go fabric shopping or early morning shoots. My day can go from Personal Styling to Personal Shopping to Consultation meetings. Then make sure to get home before 9 pm for prayers and devotions. Of course, late supper while listening to music. I love music, it both soothes my soul and helps me to be creative. Afterward, I work til 2/3 am mostly working on designs or creating concepts.

Tell me about your childhood, what lessons you got from it and some of your happy moments?

As a child, I learnt a lot because I lost a lot of people I loved. I learned mostly to be strong, fight hard for life and trust in God, and not men. The pain and suffering I experienced after my mother passed away when I was just 10 years old made me realize some people are not who they pretend to be. Mostly, I found love in genuine people who had nothing to give me but love.

What do you consider to have been the lowest point in your life and how did you pick yourself up? What conversation did you have with yourself to sail you through?

My lowest point was losing the only person who made sense to my life. Losing someone who loved me more than life itself. Someone who believed in me even when my grades were low and would always look for ways to cheer me up (shopping). She inspired and influenced my love for fashion. She took me shopping every weekend and allowed me to choose clothes for myself. I grew up with my mom, just the two of us and she was so selfish with me. I only knew her and a few family members. My life was drowning and I had given up on life when I lost her. And 2 weeks after I lost her, I lost my 2nd love – my grandmother. I started drinking, smoking, taking drugs etc because I felt there was no point of existing after losing the greatest love. It was only 6 years later that it dawned on me that I was not gonna die anytime soon so I had to fix my life or else I would continue struggling alone. Already, I was suffering because all those who pretended to love me when my mom was alive disappeared. Then, I realised no one owes me anything in life, I have to sort out my life and live the life I had always dreamed of when mom was around. I started going to church, got saved and served in the house of the Lord. From then on I started living a positive life and believing in myself that good things could come out of my loss.

What mantra or mantras do you live by?

God first , Be Bold, Be Yourself.

How does Ngugi Vere choose his friends? And what advice would you give to a younger you concerning the people in your circle?

It is very critical to be in the right circles. Our environments influence how we live, think, talk and act. If those around you don’t inspire you to be great, you will never be great. You need to position yourself with positive and ambitious individuals.

Let’s talk business, how did you get started and why? What do you consider to have been the biggest break for you?

I have always been a business person but was never loud about it. I used to sell clothes in school and in the hood during the school holidays. Oh well, they called it dealing but I saw it as a business because I could make a profit from something I got for next to nothing because I have this ability to convince. And the fact that I used you to dress well made it easy for me to sell anything. My current business started in 2014 when I returned from Asia where I was shooting an International Reality show, Style Wars. I told myself that I would never work for anyone and I’m going to establish my fashion ideas in South Africa, I would keep trying til I made it. My biggest break was when I was handpicked to be part of an International show with top 6 stylists from around the world and I was the only African. I couldn’t believe it because I was jobless, less experienced but I got an opportunity of a lifetime. I knew it was God because people were refusing to work with me or intern me because I wasn’t gay. Apparently, to them, gays are more creative so every time I got turned down, the experience and lessons changed my life, particularly my views and perspective on fashion and styling. When I got back the same people who turned me down were now consulting me. I started working with a lot of celebrities and then my business started.

What is the Ngugi Vere brand all about, how has it set itself apart from all other African products on the market, what values does this brand uphold?

Ngugi Vere | Be Bold is a brand that believes in Africa, African aesthetic and what Africa carries. And we represent the character that Africans need to possess to conquer the world Fashion industries which is being BOLD. We believe only the ‘Bold’ can run this world. So our designs, approach, concepts and stories are all about spreading boldness and uniqueness. We telling an African story that hasn’t been heard.

Over the years what sort of challenges have you faced in setting up your business considering you started out at an early age, What lessons have you gotten from these experiences and what advice would you give to someone who is looking to be an entrepreneur at a young age?

Entrepreneurship has no age factor. It’s all about having a vision, determination, hunger, purpose and discipline. The same challenges you face at a young age are the same ones you will deal with when you’re older. So those should never be your focus. Your focus should be on achieving your vision and goals despite the challenges. If you are not patient and don’t have a strong heart to endure tough times then you are not ready to be an entrepreneur. You must be willing to learn every day.

Being an entrepreneur is not easy because the money does not always roll in, how then do you manage your finances bearing in mind bills and having to save for a rainy day or old age, what structure do you have in place

Entrepreneurship is all about taking risks. High risks equals high rewards. So one should never lay all their eggs in one basket. Have different streams of income so that one can support the other when the other under performs. And the other thing is to have a Savings Account which saves for future events; lobola, weddings, accidents, death etc. It will come in handy when your other streams of income are under-performing. My main structure though is Faith. Handover your business to God, let him be the CEO. When we fail, we fail together and it’s His baby to figure out a way to get us up, survive and strive. And paying tithes is key.

How do you prepare yourself for a meeting?

I pray first and share with God what my meeting is about and what I need to achieve. Then, I start motivating myself lol, telling myself ‘I AM THE BEST’. Then research about the client. Dress nice and put on my favorite cologne then I’m ready.

What do you wish you had done differently when you first got into the business and what does the future hold for the Ngugi Vere brand?

I don’t wish I had done anything differently. I did exactly the way it was supposed to be done. You don’t need to start perfect, you just need to start. I just focus on my future endeavors and opportunities. I look into expanding my brands into the European, Asian and middle East markets, and also expand my products. It is a very exciting future that just needs investments, but yea we trusting God for that.

Do you read? If yes what are your top three favorite books?

Yea, I do read a lot. My top 3 books; the Bible, Man’s Style manual, The Virgin by Richard Branson

You are loud about your faith? Who instilled these values in you and why does it mean so much to you?

My Faith came from when Salvation found me and my life found a new dawn. I have always lived my life through faith because when I asked people for help it was never there but God’s favor and love always showed up. And, I know only He understands me, my dreams and my hustle. He always rescues me in a time of need. So, I also try to inspire others to trust in God.

Your dream destination and who would you take with you?

My dream destination is between Maldives and Monaco. I’d love to take my late mother’s sister but I guess I can’t now. So my woman or my grandma.

If I don’t ask this question the ladies will have me on a platter, what are you looking for in a woman and what are you waiting for?

Kikikkkkkkkki! You just had to ask hey? Oh well, I am against divorce and single parenting so I would rather wait until I find someone who makes sense to me and feel I would never do without, than being in a relationship and realise I made a mistake and break up. The wait is worth the while for me until I’m certain. I just want everything to be perfect. Well, I want a woman with a smart mind, beautiful heart and body, a hustler, good dresser, God fearing, strong faith and above all who supports my hustle and makes me smile and laugh foolishly. In short, I want someone who compliments me; my faith and my hustle.

 

I hope and pray that Ngugi’s inspirational story helps you to understand that you have it within you to break any barrier, no matter what life has thrown at you, you can still rise above it all. If you rely on people and they let you down, keep on going, a door will soon open and you will rise to the top. Don’t give up just yet and keep fighting for your dreams. You too can be that rose that grew from concrete, continue to write your own story despite the obstacles and challenges that are before you.

Ngugi for allowing your story to inspire me and a lot of other people out there I say THANK YOU, go ahead and stand on whatever mountain top and yell, ‘mama you rose made it.’

 

Visit Nyarie’s blog on alhubbnyaree.com

In the midst of political confusion

 

by  Linda Tsungirirai Masarira 
In the midst of the political confusion that has gripped our country, many people are wondering if we have come to the end of Zimbabwe.
The answer is simple: the thing called an “end” does not exist, not in relation to a country. Zimbabwe will be there long after Mugabe is gone.
What Mugabe has done is to make us come to the realization that ours is colonization by our own fellow brothers. From the frying pan into the fire.
Towards the end of March, innocent Zimbabwean citizens were illegally evicted from Arnold farm in Mazowe. ZRP acting on the first lady Grace Mugabe’s instructions defied a high court ruling against the evictions at Arnold farm. Houses were demolished and the little property they had was ferried off the farm by police vehicles and they were dumped on the roadside of river farm.

These displaced families are surviving on wild fruits and sleeping in the open for nearly two weeks now. I am trying to understand why a mother and a woman would do that to other women and children? Principalities in Africa manifest in strange ways. This is an abhorrent violation of human rights.

We must all thank Mugabe for revealing our true African character; that the idea of rule of law is not part of who we are, and that constitutionalism is a concept far ahead of us as a people.
How else are we to explain the thousands of people who flock to stadiums to clap hands for a president who has violated their country’s constitution? Such people have no idea of constitutionalism.
Now that we have reclaimed our place as another African country, we must reflect on and come to terms with our real character, and imagine what our future portends.
In a typical African country, ordinary people don’t expect much of politicians, because people get tired of repeated empty promises.
In a typical African country, people have no illusions about the unity of morality and governance. People know that those who have power have it for themselves and their friends and families.
The idea that the state is an instrument for people’s development is a Western concept and has been copied by pockets of Asian countries. Africans and their leaders don’t like to copy from the West. They are happy to remain African, and do things “the African way”.
The African way is rule by kings, chiefs and indunas in a setting of unwritten rules. Is there anyone who has seen a book of African customary laws? The idea that a commoner can raise questions about public money spent on the residence of a king is not African.
Asking a ruler to be accountable is a foreign – Western – idea. In a situation where there is a conflict between a ruler and laws, Africans simply change the laws to protect the ruler. This is why no single white person has called for King Dalindyebo to be released from jail.
The problem with clever blacks is that they think they live in Europe, where ideas of democracy have been refined over centuries. What we need to do is to come back to reality, and accept that ours is a typical African country. Such a return to reality will give us a fairly good idea of what Zimbabwe’s future might look like.
This country will not look like Denmark. It might look like Nigeria, where anti-corruption crusaders are an oddity.
Being an African country, ours will not look like Germany. Zimbabwe looks like Kenya, where tribalism drives politics.
People must not entertain the illusion that a day is coming when Zimbabwe will look like the US.  What will become of our future when one ruler is more powerful than the rest of the population. Even if someone else were to become president, it would still be the same, if we do not change our mindsets.
The idea that a president can resign simply because a court of law has delivered an adverse judgment is Western. Only the Prime Minister of Iceland does that; African rulers will never do that. The idea of an African president resigning because he is too ill to rule is for Doug Ferguson former president of Canada.
Analyzed carefully, the notion of Zimbabwe coming to an “end” is an expression of a Western value system – of accountability, political morality, reason, and so on.
Linda Tsungirirai Masarira is the Founder  & National Coordinator of ZWIPA
Featured courtesy of Newsday 

7 Things You Need To Know About Zimbabwean Police Roadblocks

 

By Kalabash Contributor 

In the past years, Police roadblocks have become a fundraising platform for our broke government. With most motorists ignorant of police conduct they have been left at the mercy of the police. It is no secret the majority of Zimbabweans are economically hard-pressed and below is some things you should know about police roadblocks.

1. A police officer is obligated to tell you their name along with their force/service number and the police station they come from when attending to you at a roadblock.

2. Your driver’s license disk is private property so the policeman attending to you is obligated to return it to you the instant you ask for it back. A policeman isn’t allowed to attend to another car once they have stopped you at a police roadblock.

3. A vehicle cannot be impounded on the basis that the driver doesn’t have money to pay a spot fine. If you do not have money to pay a spot fine be sure to ask for a “Form 265”  which affords the motorist 7 days to pay the fine or contest the fine in the courts.

4. Police should show you their schedule of fines prior to writing you a ticket. If they cannot show you this then they cannot write you a ticket for any offense.

5. Cops are not allowed to be at a roadblock with their private cars. Any police car that stops you must have number plates.

6. Spikes are not allowed to be thrown at a moving vehicle and in any case, this is done anyone can sue for damages with the help of Legal resources foundation (is you can’t afford the legal fees). In any case, one is pressing charges against the police the state and the police officer in his/her individual capacity.

7. Police often give motorists fines for giving rides to strangers, but giving a ride to strangers is not prohibited by law, what is prohibited is charging for it.

There you have it, information is power and that information will come handy on the road. Be sure to join the conversations on twitter running under #DearZRP and also check Road Users Association website (www.rua.org.zw ) for updates.

What is Musombodhiya? | Kala Documentary

 

By Donald Mabido

Musombodhiya is a popular illicit alcoholic substance sold on the black market in Zimbabwe. Jah Prayzah and Military touch even sing about how intoxicating it is in their song Chekeche. It’s cheap and addictive. It’s made out of an alcohol concentrate and water. Kalabash media caught up with a community coming to grips with the consequences of having this substance readily available on the streets and talked to one man as he went to get his daily dose of Musombodhiya.

How to Get Strangled By An Artist

 

by Madman Filtered

You will know, I have been an artist for a minute, once or twice a year I create something truly remarkable, and once or twice a year I have to stand outside on garbage collection day and hand the dustman a few notes so he doesn’t open the jute sack, heavy and dripping blood.

 

In the interests of public safety, and me not having to part with my hard-earned money so often, here is a list of things to never, ever, say to an artist, no matter how well you mean with your ignorance.

 

Deep. Never call art deep. An ocean is deep, a swimming pool is deep, maybe the sea. An artwork is not deep unless it’s a painting, maybe, of one of the above. Or a sculpture of water.

 

If I ever get told I look like an artist again I will not only murder the speaker but wipe out the entire clan. I will reduce your name to dust, smash the tombstones of your dearly departed, dig up their corpses and feed their bones to strays. I will burn down the Registrar General’s office to make sure you are utterly erased from all existence. That includes your social media accounts; no one will be writing RIP on your Facebook wall on your birthday.

 

Maybe I take drugs, maybe I don’t, maybe I take them as much as the next guy, maybe I don’t, but just because you don’t see how it came to existence doesn’t mean I was stoned or cocked like f*** when I came it. Let me tell you something: creativity is an affliction, do you think it’s fun to see the ugliness in things and try to fix it with words? Do you think it’s fun seeing people and shapes distorted, the only way to deal with it being to paint it so everyone else can label it ‘abstract art’? Ask Beethoven, do you think it’s fun hearing not just voices, but sounds of harpsichords and oboes even when you are deaf? Ask him again…louder!

 

Is there money in art? I don’t know, have I ever asked you for money? If your answer is yes did I pay it back? When was the last time you saw me or my colleagues at a homeless shelter? How many artists come to your local soup kitchen? Is Doctor Dre a billionaire? How many rappers are millionaires? We are not all Picassos, granted, some of us might be Van Goughs, some leeches or parasites (probably of the ‘children’ variety) will spend our dues long after we are gone, that is well and dandy. You should realise that it’s not always about the money, hell, imagine if John Grisham had become a criminal, James Patterson never invented Alex Cross but chose to live life as his arch nemesis. Imagine if your favourite poet, probably poor as fuck decided he would rather open a church and prey on your gullibility? Here’s something to do: think of artists as monks and nuns in the service of God…or something.

 

Why do you do what you do? Honestly, I am asking you the same thing. Art may be a tough industry to break into, but you know what? So is medicine, seven years cutting up dead people can’t be fun; and there can be only one president at a time…sometimes a time means thirty-six years but who cares right? You mean we should do stuff because it’s easy? Are you proud of that thought? Are you proud of telling someone to stop doing what they are doing because it’s hard? Are you proud of your weakness and shedding it into other children? Shame on you! You know what else is hard? Accounting, not only do you have to know maths, you actually know how little your piece of the pie is compared to the whole. Now leave us alone and go bother them.

*May or may not be Philani A. Nyoni’s pseudonym.