A Social Media Journey

Web & IT | By Rutendo Mutsamwira, Artist | 21 November 2014
PHOTO: © Tinashe Njagu

My social media journey began in 2003 when I was still a junior at Chisipite Senior School. We had regular classes on Computer Skills, ICDL and the Internet. Hi5 was the first social networking site I quickly got addicted to.

Once that phase came and passed, I was onto the next big thing: Facebook. I am and always was looking for ways to contribute fresh, relevant content online and so when I arrived at Monash South Afrika in 2008, I created the Facebook group “iRep MONASH”. This was also mainly due to the fact that there was no platform for student interaction online. I also noticed that the majority of students on campus spent more time on their phones. iRep Monash eventually snow balled into the online hub for campus news, updates and interaction. It is also the reason why I was elected into the Monash University South Afrika Student Association (MUSASA) as Media Liaison Officer
for 2011.
In 2012, I became the first Zimbabwean to virtually cover an event using the social networking phenomenon Twitter. At that time, I had created a Twitter handle @KnowYourZimbos. The sole aim of this handle was to provide “140 Character based networking exclusive to Zimbabweans on Twitter”.  Zimbabwe Fashion Week enlisted my services, and became the first event in Zimbabwe to have virtual coverage of it’s’ event. The result of this was extremely exciting. What we managed to achieve was not only awareness and brand visibility of an event of that magnitude virtually, we also managed to share what was happening back home to our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora. In just a series of tweets we shared a fragment of home. That still humbles me.

I believe social media, if used meaningfully has the power to not only change your life. It enables you to reach and realize your goals and dreams. One of my dreams was to record a single, just to hear how my voice sounds behind the mic! I have been writing poetry since I was in the sixth form and used various social media platforms to share my work. In 2011, I collaborated with Tanzanian Photographer Rosiah Marie in a creative challenge titled R.i.O: The Journey. This was a fusion of Rosiah’s photography and my poetry. It was a three dimensional experience we blogged about and shared with our following. This is when my musical opportunity arose! I was approached by Tanzanian/ Zimbabwean producer John “Reverb 7” Mahalu who wanted to fuse my poetry with house music. I later recorded my first single Looking For Love with Fungai Nengare. We performed the single as the closing act for Zimbabwe Fashion Week 2011. This was my first stage performance in my life! I was so nervous but I just went
with flow!

The following year, I met Clifford “Riffi” Machingaifa virtually and two weeks later we had formed the musical duo M&R., fusing of song and poetry. We shared our music virtually and our single MuNyepi was well received and we were profiled by Afrika Magic Entertainment’s show Star Gist. Thereafter, we closed Zimbabwe Fashion Week 2012.  In the same year, I also collaborated with the exceptionally talented percussionist Theresa Muteta to record a single for Zimbabwean designer Sabina Mutsvati titled “Cheukwa”. We performed this single at Zimbabwe Fashion Week for her collection and were later invited to perform at the Mercedes Benz Afrika Fashion Awards in October 2012. More recently, Cheukwa was featured at the Caribbean Fashion Week in Kingston, Jamaica.

Currently, I am working on another creative challenge called #RWrites. This, as with everything else I have done is a virtually initiated and inspired project. I am using social media as a gifting mechanism. Through Twitter and the #RWrites hash tag, I have managed to write customized poems for my followers. I would randomly tweet my followers and ask them to tweet me the first word that comes to their mind. I would then write a customized poem for them based on their bio, and a series of their tweets. I have written 160 poems using #RWrites so far and will be including these in my anthology which I am planning on publishing in 2016.