One of the most highly anticipated events in UK Zimbabweans’ calendars Zimbabwe Achievers Awards on Saturday 28 April proved a stellar event with 200 strong guests enjoying a 3-course meal, inspirational speeches and top notch entertainment and partying with the celebrants into the early hours of the morning at the prestigious Grange Tower Bridge Hotel.
The evening kicked of at 7pm when glam ladies dressed up to the nines and dapper gentlemen were ushered from the reception to the grand hall downstairs for red carpet photo call and champagne reception. Already crossing paths with the guest of honour Zimbabwean media mogul Supa Mandiwanzira who came all the way from the motherland via US to attend to event, the patron of Zimbabwe Achievers Awards and 2009 CNN Hero Betty Makoni, The Noisettes lead singer Shingai Shoniwa, we were sure we were set for a stellar night of celebration of Zimbabwe’s achievers.
But it wasn’t only Team FAB impressed, Olu Oke of Moneygram, the headline sponsors of the event, was already impressed. “It has only just started,” he said, when we caught up with him on the red carpet, “and it has already exceeded the expectations. The venue, the organisation, the guests – everything looks great and as Moneygram we are pleased to lend our name to such a prestigious event.”
Tafara Muzanenhamo of Econet Mobile, the co-sponsors of the event, was equally full of praise for the event. “As Econet, a brand who stands for and believes in giving back to our community, we are honoured to be here and supporting such a fantastic evening of Zimbabweans’ achievements,” he said.
Once the photo call and champagne reception drew to a close around 8pm, the host of the evening, actress Chipo Chung gorgeous in a green gown took to the stage. Welcoming the dinner guests to an evening of celebration, she praised the growing talent in the UK before inviting Pastor Vincent Ndlovu to the stage for the opening speech and prayer.
In a moving speech, Pastor Ndlovu reminded the audience to give thanks to and celebrating God, the giver of all talent and achievement, as we celebrate our achievements. It was then the guest of honour Supa Mandiwanzira’s turn to recognise Zimbabwe’s achievers in the diaspora, but the media mogul also took the opportunity to remind the audience now is the time to invest back home in Zimbabwe to help the development of the country.
With grace said and talents in the room recognised, MK took to the stage to entertain the audience for the first course of dinner before Olu Oke representing Moneygram welcomed the guest and wished the nominees well.
The first category was the Academic Award and the winner, Dr. Winston Mano, Senior Lecturer and Course Leader for the Graduate Diploma in Media and Communication Studies at University of Westminster. Then announced for the special categories in quick succession were the winners of the Conservation Award, Tourism Award, Outstanding Achievement and Young Achiever of the Year – The Zambezi Society, Wild Zambezi, Marjorie Ngwenya and Nyasha Matonhodze respectively.
With the special awards concluded and the evening well on its way, it was time for the second part of the evening for the non-dining guests to join the others in the hall. After a 15 minute break, it was Chythia Mare who welcomed guests with two new songs “Dai Zvaibvira” and “Hatina” off her upcoming album due later this year.
After Cythia’s flawless rendition of the Zimbabwean national anthem, it was none other than the founder and CEO of Zimbabwe Achievers Awards Conrad Mwanza who welcomed the guests, gave thanks to his bride to be in the audience and the ZAA for all their support, and concluded with the inspirational words, “Let’s continue dreaming and aiming high.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award and the Chairman’s Honorary Award were two categories that did not feature any nominations, with the winners decided upon by the ZAA panel. This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to Vuli Mkandla of Zimbabwe Educational Trust for his charitable work in enabling Zimbabwean students from disadvantaged backgrounds to continue higher education while Chairman’s Honorary Award was awarded to Econet founder and CEO Strive Masiyiwa.
Following these monumental awards it was a monumental woman’s turn on the stage. The founder of Girlchild Network Betty Makoni, also the patron of the ZAAs, not only paid tribute to women and mothers worldwide with a poignant poem but also introduced the charities supported on the night, encouraging the guests to take part in the silent auction and raffle draw.
With keynote speeches completed, the stage was left to the winners as for the next hour envelopes were opened, names announced and celebrants cheered on to the stage. The highlights of the night for Team FAB were sitting at the winner’s table as we cheered the First Lady of iROCK Viola Ncube, the Female Entrepreneur of the Year, and of course editor Sinem Bilen-Onabanjo presenting the winners of the Fashion Designer and Urban Fashion categories.
With awards out of the way, in the early hours of the evening, the party was going strong as performers ranging from Flame Lily Arts to Ogga Kattalog entertained the guests still reluctant to leave the venue and step into the cold April showers. As the venue of the after party was announced and the guests slowly made their way to the lobby, faces of those around us still chatting away, taking photos and celebrating with the winners reflected similar emotions: a lot of pride, much joy, and a little bit of sadness that the next Zimbabwe Achievers Awards was yet a year away. Conrad Mwanza had promised an iPhone 4 and delivered an iPhone 4s.
List of Winners:
Academic Award – Dr. Winston Mano
Lifetime Achievement Award – Vuli Mkandla
Chairman’s Honorary Award – Strive Masiyiwa
Conservation Award – The Zambezi Society
Tourism Award – Wild Zambezi
Outstanding Achievement – Marjorie Ngwonya
Young Achievers Award – Nyasha Matonhodze
Friend of Zimbabwe Award – Dr. Terry Ranger
Female Entrepreneur of the Year – Viola Ncube
Male Entrepreneur of the Year – Dr. Charles Mazhude
Company of the Year – Renaissance Personnel
Business Innovation of the Year – Tinaye Munonyara
Fashion Designer of the Year – Haranga Afrik Klodz
Urban Fashion Design – Blackarmoor
Event Promoter of the Year – Fashion Gives Back
International Sports Personality – Kirsty Coventry
Community Organisation of the Year – Positive Youth Programs
Community Champion of the Year – Nyasha Gwatidzo
Journalist of the Year goes – Lance Guma
Media House of the Year – New Zimbabwe
Radio Station of the Year – Zimnet Radio
Radio presenter of the Year – Vickie Storm
Male Artist of the Year – Bruno ‘Money B’ Mukuze
Female Artist of the Year – Cynthia Mare
Gospel Artist of the Year – Jane Doka
Video of the Year – All Stars, “Just Wanna Dance”
Personality of the Year – Glorianne Francis
People’s Choice Award – Betina Sibanda
Images: David Mbiyu / sixoone.com