"This was just a dream and we know that so many times we dream but our dreams don't come true. I never thought it will become of something but today I'm proud you are all here it's a dream come true for me."
These were the opening remarks from the founder of Appreciate Africa Network that is responsible for managing and organising the Pride of Africa Asia Pacific Awards, Dr Samantha Sibanda. Appreciate Africa Network was founded to educate and create awareness about the beauty of Africa and its diversity. Dr Samantha is a Zimbabwean based in China and was included in the top 100 Most Influential People of African Descent Class of 2018 (MIPAD2018) in the UN. It came into being after the United Nations declared 2015-2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent. MIPAD recognises high achievers of African Descent all round the world in the spirit of recognition, justice and development of Africa. Dr Samantha called on people to support local talent and put money on our youth. She encouraged media to write positive African stories rather than focusing on the negative side only.
Now in their 4th year, Pride of Africa Asia Pacific Awards are an annual event whose purpose is to celebrate and appreciate African individuals and companies who are making remarkable contributions in the Asia Pacific region contributing towards development of various sectors in the African diaspora community. It extends to friends of Africa who are promoting African interests. The awards have been applauded for inducing and motivating Africans across China and in the region to find avenues to contribute towards the betterment of our communities in Asia and back home in Africa. Through Appreciate Africa Network events, people are coming together creating a community which appreciates and embraces each other's diversity. Africans have spread far and wide and excelling tremendously in their their various areas of expertise and it is at Pride of Africa Asia Pacific Awards that they get to be honoured for their works. Ambassador of Cape Verde to China in her speech as the Class of 2019 valedictorian said, "I understand the need to improve mutual understanding and to bring Africa and Chinese people closer together building bridges for people to people cultural exchanges.When we learn more about each other's culture, habits, and traditions it's much easier to build stronger relations for they will be based on respect, trust and friendship.
2019 edition of the awards held during the weekend saw Zimbabweans shining and flying the country's flag high. In a time where media is painting Zimbabwe otherwise, these awards bring in new light highly needed to sell Brand Zimbabwe. Graced by more than 21 ambassadors of various countries in China among which was the ambassador of Zimbabwe to China Hon Paul Chikawa, AU Permanent Representative H.E Rahmat Allah Osman and the SADC chairman ambassador of Namibia to China Dr Elia G Kaiyamo and business leaders. The event was a huge success and brought pride for Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole. Zimbabwe couldn't be more prouder with the youngest recipient being 8 year old Mukundi Washeni who won Outstanding Young Achiever alongside Collins Mtha Sibanda. Mukundi is a successful child actor who is a regular on CCTV.
Zanele Thebe a Zimbabwean based in Australia won the Outstanding Community Service Provider for her charity work in mental health awareness and empowering women both abroad and back home. She also leads a cultural diverse group called Accomplished Women that help empower women by mentoring and running social events. She represents Zimbabwe at Harmony Day in Australia selling Zimbabwe to the world. Tendai Makuku won Outstanding Community Champion for her charity work in empowering single mothers. She makes African jewelry which she use the money to help in the community back home. Outstanding African Employee went to Zennith Toto while Outstanding Achievement in Media went to China-Africa Magazine. In the arts, Zimbabwe had the great Dj Gerrybeats full name Gerald Marangwanda as the Outstanding African Dj and Tawanda Gold Mugodhi being awarded Outstanding Achievement in Music. One award which went undisputed is the Charity Fundraiser of The Year which went to Abinel Matemera head of the ZimCan social group that raises funds to help in the Zimbabwean community in China. Under the leadership and push of Abinel, the group has managed to raise funds for stranded students, the sick and the deceased. He was also among the committee that headed the Cyclone Idai relief program and his winning this award is a true reflection of his influence in the community.
The awards were not for Zimbabweans only as they saw several other Africans and friends of Africa go home with various awards notably being African Man of the Year which went to Ambassador of Ivory Coast to China Hon Adama Dosso, a Director's Honorary Award given to the SADC Chairman and ambassador of Namibia to China Dr Elia G. Kaiyamo together with Uganda Consulate Guanzhou and African Personality of the Year is Ambassador of Cape Verde to China Honorable Tania Romualdo and Nwabuike Uchechukwu. Well, the awards have come and gone and work continues. Zimbabweans continue to shine and these are just but a glimpse of whats behind the scene. Africa unite and united we stand.