I AM Mbare - You are Mbare - We are Mbare -  - ebook

What is “I AM MBARE”? I AM MBARE is a Non-Governmental Organisation which was formed in 2015 by young people from the community of Mbare in order to initiate a positive face of the community. Our vision: Turn Mbare into a healthy and vibrant place to live, where the rights and well-being of each member of the community are respected.

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I am Mbare

Brian Mac Garry SJ, Edward Tsango

Verlag INNSALZ, Munderfing 2018


Aumayer Media, Munderfing

Dieses Werk einschließlich aller seiner Teile ist urheberrechtlich geschützt. Jede Verwertung außerhalb der engen Grenzen des Urheberrechtsgesetzes ist unzulässig und strafbar.

ISBN: 978-3-903154-64-3



Brian Mac Garry SJ

Edward Tsango



Brian Mac Garry SJ

Edward Tsango

You are Mbare

We are Mbare

Let´s Ignite Our Community




1. What is “I AM MBARE”?

2. Historical impulse: Mai Musodzi

3. Philosophy and methods of work

4. Life stories

Edward Tsango, Coordinator of I AM MBARE C.M.

Vimbai Synodia Chakauya

Isabel Chiedza Phiri

Fungai Dereck Chikuyu

Yolanda Munyengwa

5. Activities

5.1 Street Kids School

5.2 Combating teenage pregnancy and child marriage

5.3 Urban Sanitation

5.4 Environmental Awareness Raising

5.5 Visits to care centres

5.6 History talks

5.7 Christmas Celebration

6. Outreaching to others

6.1 To other communities

Photo 19: Monalisa Jemwa

6.2 To Mozambique

Letter from a friend


To many people, Mbare is a hopeless, dead-end place that anyone with any sense or ambition got out of years ago.

Older people can tell us it was not always that way. The very street names tell the story. Mbare is the only one of Mbare‘s low-income suburbs where streets are named after early residents, most of them people who helped to make what started as a barrack for single male workers into a vibrant community. Those street names are almost a Who was Who in social action, sport, music and politics. Today‘s youth, bored, frustrated and unemployed, lived, walked and played on these streets without knowing that those street names could tell them.

In 2013, some youth trying to break out of despair and inertia formed a football team including players from across the political divide. That rapidly became successful, won a couple of tournaments and in 2016 three of their players were snapped up by bigger clubs. Some others began to feel hope. Towards the end of 2015 they began inviting older people who had grown up in Mbare to talk to them about life in the township in their youth. Speakers included descendants of some of the big names of the early years. The young people came out of those talks asking questions like: “If Mai Musodzi could do that, what can we do?”

This led to campaigns to clean up the area around the most dilapidated of the large blocks of flats. Many young people joined in these. Other activities were suggested, and other needs presented themselves so that by the end of 2016 they had formed themselves into an organisation they called I Am Mbare, as an expression of their pride in their home and their desire to bring back the life it once had. Some friends contributed enough money to rent a house as a centre for their activities, which rapidly grew as described in this book.

In these few pages, members of the group describe the varied activities that have developed in the past 15 months. Some of them describe in their own words what I Am Mbare means to them.

As young people in other communities around Harare and further afield take inspiration from I Am Mbare and look for ways they can transform their lives, we offer this little book as a story of what they have shown they can do. We hope it can inspire others and move readers who do not have a Mbare on their own doorsteps to contribute materially to the growth of I Am Mbare and its offshoots in Epworth, Masasa and other poor communities .

We thank Hemma Tengler and all those she has mobilised to turn our few stories into this volume.

Mbare, Harare, January 2018

Edward Tsango

Brian MacGarry SJ



For many non-Harare residents the synonym of a crowded bus terminal from which buses connect the capital of Zimbabwe, Harare, with the rural areas.

Next to the bus terminal is Mbare Musika, a huge market area and still the largest farm produce market in the country, unfortunately now in disrepair. There are also other markets, like the market for cheap clothing Mupedza Nhamo, or Mapeka market for metal goods and craftsmanship. Mbare also has a famous curio market.

And there is Rufaro Stadium, homeground of Dynamos F.C., one of the top Zimbabwe football clubs. Rufaro also hosted international soccer matches. At Independence of Zimbabwe in 1980, Bob Marley played a concert in the stadium.

Mbare was the first high-density suburb (township), being established in 1907. At that time, it was located near the city cemetery, sewage works, and abattoir. It was originally called Harare

Township, a corruption of Havarari, meaning ‚They never sleep‘ and this was the name given to Chief Harava of this northeastern part of Zimbabwe.

Jazz, tap dancing and concerts were popular in the town, and the well-known singers Thomas Mapfumo, Hilton Mambo and Elisha Josam all came from Mbare. With later generations, the music known as zimdancehall became popular, and fans in Mbare developed a sound of shona music requiring instrumental tunes and play clacks as they dance.

The area was largely populated by migrant workers from Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia while the local workforce preferred to maintain their rural homes and came to the city seasonally. The first council houses built there are called Old Bricks. During the 1940s there was a big shortage of workers. The council built the Matapi flats and hostels to accommodate local male workers. Matapi flats were home to thousands of residents and are one of the biggest residential areas in Zimbabwe. They would work for a few days at a time and then return to their families in the rural areas. Today those flats are occupied by families. 10 people live in one room – 15.000 in 14 blocks of flats! Life in miserable condition and with poor sanitation.

Significant portions of Mbare were destroyed by police and military forces during Operation Murambatsvina in May 2005. Today it is estimated that Mbare houses more than 120 000 people, being the most densely populated suburb in the country. Poverty, unemployment and crime are rampant, but the resilience and creativity of people are amazing.

As the I AM MBARE initiative testifies.


I AM MBARE is a Non-Governmental Organisation which was formed in 2015 by young people from the community of Mbare in order to initiate a positive face of the community.


Turn Mbare into a healthy and vibrant place to live, where the rights and well-being of each member of the community are respected.

Our mission is: