ZIMBABWEANS JUST LOVE MUSIC!...an encounter with the volunteers.



I love to travel to different places, meet new people and experience fabrics in these places. Sometimes I wonder if I would have had the guts to drop everything and live in a new place among the locals, eat their food and practice some of their culture, for two years!!

I travelled to Mkoba Teachers’ College in Gweru on my first assignment as the PR Ambassador for JICA. I had the privilege of meeting the new principal Mrs Mavunga before heading out and about the college in the company of two volunteers on the JOCV program.


I met Risa and she smiled and greeted me in Shona, “makadii?” and that just warmed my heart. Risa Tomita left Japan in 2021 to become a volunteer in Zimbabwe. When she was younger, she was taught by a volunteer from another country and she decided then that she would one day volunteer. Tomita holds a Degree in Graphic Design but switched careers at 22 when she realised that it was not her strength and trained as a system engineer instead. In Japan, she works for a big IT company and took leave to come to Zimbabwe.

She lectures the students at Mkoba Teachers’ College and is also the Laboratory Technician at the college. At 29, she is happy to have come to Zimbabwe and experienced life here. She said “I was not sure about the people here but they are very warm and I love Sadza Nemadora”

She also wonders if the students will remember her once she returns to Japan as I do still remember my Japanese Music teacher from 1992 at Townsend High who was also a volunteer just like Risa.

Ikuko Seki, 38, is a high school PE teacher back in Japan. She has been in Zimbabwe for a year and three months now. Her classes involve aerobics and gymnastics. “Most of my students find my classes a bit hard but as soon as I play music, they jump up and start participating with more energy”.

She smiled as she said this and mentioned that the students love Jah Prayzah and that has inspired her to listen to him more. “The students are very positive and their positive energy has made the classes more enjoyable”.

Seki and Risa walked me to their work stations and I could not help but notice that the pair was very popular at the college and the students


interacted with them in Shona and Seki was getting there in understanding what was being said. On the other hand Risa fluently speaks all the words she has learnt. Their accommodation is at the school and the two have standard rooms there. The college has made them comfortable and, JICA and the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation of Science and Technology checks in with them often. They feel safe, they are safe and happy at the college.



Born in Kyoto, Risa will be going back there this coming December, to her job at the big IT company and will miss her students, the overflowing calls to assist with a laptop, a phone, the internet, a desktop and sadza nemabhonzo. “I want to come back”, she muses and I smile and assure her she will!

As the pair walks me back to the car park, we go past the college kitchen and Seki tells me how she loves mutakura. “It’s such a simple dish, no additional spices needed, it's just good as it is!” We parted ways with a promise to share all the pictures we had taken, and Risa exclaimed, “Kurikupisa aaa!”. I smile again and imagine how many people are going to miss her in her department and around the college. We say our goodbyes and my mind settles on mutakura as I switch on my car radio, search for Jah Prayzah’s Kurarama and head back to Harare.


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