Ken’s Story: THE KARATE MASTER’S SON HAS BIG DREAMS
Read by: Munashe Chirisa
Writer: Zodwa Nyoni
Director: Anastasia Osei-Kuffour
Sound Designer: Adam McCready
Producers: Saziso Phiri & Laura Ford
Writer: Zodwa Nyoni
Director: Anastasia Osei-Kuffour
Sound Designer: Adam McCready
Producers: Saziso Phiri & Laura Ford
We Need New Stories – Watch Ken Gambura’s Interview that inspired this Episode
My name is Ken Gambura. So I was born in a small town in Zimbabwe called Karoi, which is just about 85 kilometres from the city centre of Harare. Growing up there, I only remember the first two years because my dad relocated quite a lot, moving around the country with his work. So I only stayed in Karoi for a couple of years. So, it was me and my mum and my dad. So I remember the midwife that delivered, because she was the only midwife in that village area and name was Mrs. Mundare. She was an amazing woman. So I remember that when I was about 2 years old, when she gave me a gift. My parents were born in Zimbabwe, not in Harare. My mum was born in Karoi, and my dad was born in Mutate, which is the Eastern Highlands. So Karoi, it’s mostly known for farming, cotton farming. So it’s quite a small town, mostly known to be near Kariba, which is one of the landmarks in Zimbabwe in terms of tourism. So Karoi itself in terms of economic or social things, it was mostly driven by the farming land of cotton, cotton farming, mainly. There wasn’t much about witches, by the way, legend stories, there’s one called the Nyami Nyami, which is almost like the Loch Ness Monster of, Scotland that you hear here. People used to believe that in the Kariba dam, there’s this big snake that lives in there. That’s where you know, bigger than maybe an average sized dragon. That’s called the Nyami Nyami. So that was one of the legends, if you didn’t want to go to sleep, you know, they will say, make sure you sleep because the Nyami Nyami might come and get you. My dad was an acc… he’s retired, now he’s was an accountant. And my mum was a creative. So we kind of had discipline, you know, from dad’s side, and that kind of creative from my mum’s side. So she had a real deep values in terms around, just, you know, integrity about who you are. And also just giving you the freedom to express yourself, becoming creative, in whatever field, you were. We used to call her Wonder Woman, because she used to do all sorts of creative things around and that inspires me as a kid when you see that to the you know, when you grow up, you know, some of those memories stick and it gives you the courage to maybe explore, you know, and do things in your own life. So she was she was a very creative person. As she was growing up. My mum was into martial arts. And she was a black belt in karate, and judo. But she was also someone who could cook up a feast. So she would scrub up anything that’s in the kitchen, and he would come up with an amazing meal. But on top of that, she was also a really good mum. But other things that she was into our mum, she was into music. And she could play the keyboard, she could play the guitar, and she’d sing in the choir. So she used to say to us, I can do all these things. So no excuses, you know, for your kids, when you’re growing up, so but we got, I grew up seeing that kind of creative side from her, but I think one of the most key things that I remember about her was her way of giving back. There were always people around our house. She used to be keepers in the community, helping out teaching, encouraging, you know, young women and young men on just general life skills. So yes, that’s the kind of environment I grew up in. I think she was just curious, as a person, so she was very open minded in terms of looking at not just the Zimbabwean culture but looking at other cultures in how to integrate that into our own culture, or into our own family. And I think maybe what inspired her she was a lot into films, and movies, so things like Bruce Lee and all of these kinds of films, but she was more into how the films were made. And I think that’s where your curiosity came in. So she will be curious in the same way about other things. So if she liked maybe, you know, the dress you aware and she wasn’t more interested in going to buy one herself. She’ll be more looking at how can she make one that looks similar, but maybe with an African type of style print? And I think fashion, culture, food, community are the things that inspired or maybe intrigued in that way. But I think also her parents were were like that they were all from kind of a church background and music background, so I think that’s where she picked up some of those skills.
So the Zimbabwean Independence Day. Yeah, we celebrate it every year. You know, it’s a key part of our heritage, about when I was 3 years old, I wouldn’t remember much from from that time, but I’m sure it’s a great day.
Before I left Zimbabwe. I went to school in Zimbabwe. So I did my, you know, my primary, secondary education in Zimbabwe. And then I came over to the UK to come to university. It was 1997. So it was just before my 21st birthday. To get a visa. Back then it wasn’t as probably as hard as it is now. I think Zimbabwe being a British colony, there was quite a lot of links around those things. Being an English speaking country, there were automatic kind of transfer around immigration that were there. So as a Zimbabwean, young Zimbabwean, that time you could come to the UK for a visit, or you could come to school. And it wasn’t it wasn’t as hard back then. Probably compared to what it is right now.
So when I was young, and still in Zimbabwe, I mentioned my mum in terms of exposure, she would always expose us to other things, that your environment in your world is not just your local community, there’s a lot more things for us, so she introduced us a lot to the movie world. So you could see other countries and places without going there. And I think that’s what, so always, you know, in your imagination as a kid, you always thinking one day I want to travel to, you know, to somewhere else, rather than just my own environment. So yes, I would always think of moving abroad somewhere, maybe not necessarily the UK. But UK ended up being the place.
So the first time I came to the UK, I remember when you you know, if you’re coming from Zimbabwe, it’s a nice, warm country, isn’t it? But when you get to Heathrow Airport, and you come out of all the immigration thing, and you come out those first front doors, and the cold hits you, that’s where you know, you come to a different country. And I remember that very well. But I also remember just the difference in the culture, you know, trying to understand the accents and the language, the difference in the foods.Those are kind of things that you remember before you get acustomised to, or maybe you find the places that kind of do similar to the food that you used to buy was also quite good because that’s what’s the part of the exploration, you know, you’re you’re wanting to try the cultures, and integrate yourself into local communities where you’ve come in, but yes, it will be a culture shock initially, when you when you get here. I think my mum’s influence around just being open to other people was probably one of the key factors that may be maybe a bit easier for us to, you know, for me to come over and settle because you could, you know, you could create and break down those barriers whether around language and you want to learn the language quickly or you want to understand how things work quickly. And I think that installation of whether you call it courage or just, you know, interpersonal relationship helped, definitely.
So living in London is totally different. I mean, London was was much much faster. At the time. It was one of the cities you know, it’s a fast city, it’s a financial hub. So the pace that things go was totally different. If I’m comparing you know, to Nottingham, I remember when I first came to Nottingham, the difference within just the pace of how things work was was where there was a big, big gap. But I fell in love with the Nottingham community because it was much more friendlier. Not in terms of in London, I think everyone is so so busy, people are just kind of doing their own thing. But in Nottingham it was quite refreshing that you people would just be you know, stop on the road and have a chat with you without really knowing who you are or where you where you came from. But they are interested or intrigued to find out at the time. So that was one of the main differences between London and in Nottingham.
When I first moved to London, my auntie lived there. So I was just within her circle of Zimbabwean community at the time, but back then people were just so busy working that there wasn’t really a community centre field that you maybe get probably in the Nottingham Zimbabwean community.It was there but I think people were just kind of in their own circles. So initially when I moved I didn’t find like Zimbabweans besides my family network, but as you get older by the time I get to go to university, that’s when you start to make other friends and you starting to know where other things you can go on to or places you can visit where maybe there are African communities, but the were African kind of hubs where you could go to African centres, but not necessarily Zimbabwe in particular.
So when I left Zimbabwe in 1997, things were still, were not as you know, as turbulent as they got a few years after that, that time, things were very calm, the economy was doing good. Because I remember the currency back in Zim at the time, that time, you could, you know, afford to buy a ticket, you know, quite easily. So things were, were still quite stable and, and prosperous. At the time.
In the UK, at the time, when I came, it was, most of it was just, you know, a new area, culture shock, different music, different dress, I remember the Spice Girls were a big hit back then at the time, so I remember that, because they were on all the these red buses, you couldn’t miss them. They were everywhere.
Did you have a favourite yourself?
No, no I didn’t, if you push me, I would maybe say Scary Spice. But, yeah, it was one of the things that from a music point of view, that was a you know, happening at that time. I mean, I was more into the one of the things that really excited me was access to music. So at the time, I was more into like hip hop, and at the time, you could walk into any shop and get any CD. You know, one of the things back home, you couldn’t, you couldn’t do depending on what you know, where you were you live in, so you could walk into HMV, or get your CD of 2Pac or Notorious B.I.G, you know, the, so that exposure to access to music, on an instant was was amazing.
So when I came to the UK, by the time I got to university, I went to City University in London, and I studied nursing degree there, so I come from a healthcare background. So I think what drove me to study nursing was my aunt, Aunt Val, who lives in London, she was a nurse, she was my mum’s sister. And at the time, when we were talking, she was telling me about some of the things that she’ll be doing within nursing and what she does, how long the course was when she trained. But she also told me about the opportunities and the doors that nursing would open. Not just for myself, but for others kind of around me. But I think the key thing really is what was instilled maybe way back then it’s just, it’s in the nature of my integrity to care. So this is something that’s just strength in within my probably DNA and purposes. So at the time, I had two opportunities to go and do two different things. I had a space for university with the Royal Air Force, and I also a space… then the nursing opportunity came after that, just before I actually took the other job. And and took that because it was more kind of aligned to who I am and my traits and absolutely loved it. When I started. I remember when I first started nursing, they were 11 of us, Zimbabweans within within the course, and other nationalities or African nationalities. So I’m sure that it’s probably a lot more now. But back then it was about 11 of us out of a cohort of like 250.
So I worked as a nurse for 6 years, on the actual floors for 6years. And it was absolutely amazing. As a nurse, because you could see, that’s where you see the real difference of what NHS and nurses do. Because you could see someone walk through the hospital those on a stretcher bed. And then after 6weeks, or however long of treatment and looking after them, they walk out that door. There is nothing more satisfying than that, especially when you see that same patient come back, and they fit and well and then maybe come to show you their family or their new baby or anything like that. So I think in terms of careers for young men and women listening, it’s probably one of the most rewarding that you can do.
I think discrimination and racism and differences in culture is one of the things that comes along in any environment. Because as you’re different, whether in colour, skin tone, language, anything like that, there will be those challenges. So sometimes culturally, I remember where we come from in Zimbabwe, we’re very friendly. But there are some cultures that are not, doesn’t mean that they’re not friendly, but they’re just not as forthcoming in words or smiles, but they’re still they’re still a friendly person. So it took me time sometimes to adjust to those cultural differences of finding out at what level do you give someone a hug and you don’t give somebody a hug? Because some cultures, that’s not. But then you have other cultures like I remember meeting some Italian cultures, where they don’t just give you a hug, but they even give you two kisses on cheeks. And from where I come from my culture, that’s something that you probably don’t do is probably a bit further. So it’s understanding those cultural differences in language, but I think, a difference in discrimination or it’s something that’s existed before I even maybe got to go there. And it’s something that at the moment we’re still working on and trying to advocate that, you know, we all just one nation. Despite what, you know, colour tone, you’re coated with, I think your upbringing in the background, and even things that you’ve been exposed to, even if you face discrimination, I think that opens up a new way of yourself of looking at life. And certainly, yes, that that has definitely played a part in terms of how I may be responded when I did meet someone who was in maybe too keen in, you know, challenging you about where you’ve come from, or who you are, and actually having a conversation with them to under so that they can understand where you come from. So they can understand what your motives are. And they can also understand that while you’re there in either workspace or social environment, the only difference really, that’s there is, what they like and what I like, but we can still have a common ground, we can probably still share the same like of music, you know, they might like Beethoven and I might like Amapiano, but we could still find a mix somewhere. It doesn’t matter, really, you know, about colour. And in some of these things, I think identity is a key part of who you are. And you should own that and embrace that. But I think they should also bear respect from the other person to understand that this is this is who this person is. And I will also do the same.And I think if you go that respect on that, it doesn’t really matter. Because you’ve got a good foundation to to start having a conversation. And that openness is I think is key, I think is key. And yes, I certainly learned it from from Wonder Woman we used to call it.
I moved to Nottingham in 2003. And I moved to Nottingham with work at that time. So my family was moving to Nottingham at the time. And I had a job in the NHS here in Nottingham at one of the local hospitals in Nottingham. I think when I moved to Nottingham and started working at one of the local hospitals, one of the key things I mentioned was the difference in almost the same cultural thing that you talked about where even if it’s all UK, you you get a difference in how people are in terms of their demeanour. So you find that people in Nottingham were just a lot more friendlier, or they came across as friendly doesn’t necessarily mean the people in London were not, before they start to come after me. Doesn’t mean that we’re not friendly. But there was just this openness of a community, more in Nottingham whether because it’s much of a smaller city. I don’t know but you definitely felt at home, when you got here, and what are the things that they did for us to help you just understand the cultures, they gave us this A4 sheet of paper, and it had all the local Nottingham slang on there. So things like ‘duck’ or ‘me tabs’, or ‘flower’, so that when you talk into, you know patients on the ward or relatives, and if they speak in this language, you will understand what they’re talking about. And I find myself, I talk in some of that language now, because I think that’s a way of taking people maybe who are not from the area and help them integrate into the community. And that’s, that’s really key.
So I’m just a creative, through and through, whether when I was working in in the NHS, when I’m working within Braai Flavours, which is a Zimbabwean South African restaurant and takeaway. And I’m responsible for creating all the products that come through that we then end up serving the customers.
So as I mentioned before, in terms of who I am, as a person, that integrity care in nature, I was always still looking for opportunities to influence my community. So when I joined the City Hospital team and I was working there, I was always looking for a teaching role. Because this is one of the areas where you can pass on whether your creative background, your knowledge, your skills that you have gained, and at the time, I couldn’t really find a teaching role that there could come or coaching role. So I eventually found it, that role within healthcare and pharma. In this way, we could go in and train either other nurses we could go in and train other colleagues. And that really resonated with me, because it was within some of the key things, and key skills that I like, so yeah, so then I become part of those teaching and coaching communities within the healthcare industry or the NHS. And that was an area that I really enjoyed. And then I stayed in that. So when I came to the job at City Hospital, I lived with family.
Yeah, I mean, Nottingham is a really cool place. It’s one of the cities where you can live and your right bang in the middle of the country. The people there were, you know, within the Aspley area where I lived you know, they were all nice, there, you know, friendly, we met friends, they will take out your bin for you, which was you will not in some of the areas in London or back in Zim. But, you know, but it’s just, it’s just a really good community, area and community feel.I didn’t feel as much of an alien, you know, when you first come to a new country when I came to Nottingham.
So in terms of moving from nursing, teaching, coaching, I don’t really feel like I transitioned that much. Because what I do at the core of it is still the same thing. But I just wanted a platform where I could do more of that. So what I mean by that is the coaching and teaching of young men and women, especially
around personal and professional development. When I was within the teaching, sales, coaching role within the healthcare industry, I wasn’t really feeling like I was doing as much of that. And that just kept chipping away at me over the years because I knew some of the things that I wanted to do. So I thought about how can I come up with a platform where I can create opportunities for teaching and coaching, but also still do some of my passions and things like that, and food is one of them. So that’s how the Brassi Flavours concept came to play. So it was about finding out right, okay, I wanted to introduce the food and culture of the Zimbabweans so that the same way that I was integrated into the community, can I integrate the local UK Nottingham community into where we come from what we’re about and how our food is. So I decided to create Braai Flavours at the time to test the food at least so that people can can try the food. But I knew that having that kind of platform would then create an open door for young men and women to come through those doors to learn one, about our culture, about our food, but also just go through life coaching and personal development, coaching, professional coaching, which is really what Braai Flavours in the background really stands for, which is ultimately really wanting to give back and make a difference within the community that I live in.
So Braai Flavours as a business has got on one mission, which is ultimately wanting to give back and make a difference. But we do that through providing Zimbabwean and South African and vegetarian food. But that creates a platform for an area or workspace for young men and women to come in and work in that area. And that’s a really good mix I think of, introducing food and culture that people don’t really know about, but you also make an impact to your local economy and local community. Yeah, so that’s in a nutshell, the business stands for that as a whole. The food I always think is a bonus, but the main difference really there is if we move into Basford or Sherwood, can we really impact our local community? Can we make a difference? Can we integrate the young men and women who are interested whether in food? Are they just looking for guidance? Or are they just looking for coaching? Or are they just looking for an area where they can feel that there is positivity and building, and Braai Flavours is that place. They call it ‘the church’, the young people around here.
Yes, I think one of the key things was the community feel, I think that’s probably one of the biggest impact. I felt like I could do these things I’ve described to you in Nottingham, more so in Nottingham than maybe other cities, when I lived in London, because it opened up that welcoming feel. So you’re able to express yourself so whatever my expressive gifts were, there was a community platform when you engage the City Council for example. You know, they were open to understand about your culture and things like that so if you go there kind of, you know, background where or government or local authority that’s open to that. It makes it easier, I think to then do what you want to do in terms of the expressiveness side of it.
So on building Braai Flavours, I think having the idea is one thing. But executing on a level where it’s something that can be viable and still achieve the goals that you were thinking of from the beginning can be different. So yes, we did face challenges when you’re starting out. It’s, the first challenge is how do you get people to try the foods that they’ve never kind of tried before, because there was not many Zimbabwean, you know, places, they’re still not many now, when you go around, so one of the main challenges we faced was just how do we get people to try the food. So we went to the council, and one of the main things that they want is things like food hygiene rating. So I realise you know, from the start having the ideas, we had to go back to start to get certain qualifications. So things like food, safety, health and safety, to making sure that you are, you might be passionate about the things that you’re trying to do. But you need certain things in place, so that you’re then able to give the access to, you know, to the community, so we had to do some of those things. But funding wise, it’s one of the areas where you have to have a viable business, usually you want something that’s got a track record, which we didn’t have. So we really couldn’t get any funding at the time. So we self funded, you know, to build up the business. Once we started to do some events, where people were starting to get some interest and catering things, we then approached the business enterprise in the UK, to show them the numbers of what we had already done at that time. And they managed to fund as part of the business plan.
In Zimbabwe, it’s a different landscape. Yes, I think resources are there in terms of if you want to start a business, probably not necessarily from maybe a government sector, but they’re from private investors. So if you have, you know, a business idea that you want to execute, there are business venture people, you can approach for that. So, funding options are there, but they, they might not be as accessible as they are in the UK. Because in the UK, you’ve got bodies that are there to try and help you start a business. There’s a body called startup.gov. I think it’s all under .gov now, and then their role is to help you know, you with your idea in your business, from the time of creating the business plan to the funding, you know, if they think it’s viable, so some of those things, you might not get similar in Zimbabwe. But when I left Zimbabwe back then, you know, I was still a bit younger now, but I certainly know now, there are business people in Zimbabwe, if you’ve got a viable idea, they will be able to fund it. To help you grow it. Obviously you have to put some stake in place or percentage or whatever agreement that you might have, or maybe pay them back on interest.
When I started the business. I started it with one of my brothers just doing events. Because one of the challenges I mentioned about how do you get people to try your food. So we looked at so what are the opportunities where the Nottingham area where we canput the food in front of people, and the thing was events. So we started to look at what kind of events can we do? But can we start to live this vision of giving back now as well. So I looked for charities so one of the main charities that I approached was Wish Upon A Star which is a children’s charity I approached the Nottingham Brain Cancer charity as well. And all these charities I was approaching, I knew that they did events every year. So we said right Okay, so if we can create a Zimbabwean, South African food for them, we get a stall at some of these events, but maybe even take part in some of the cycling or marathon or whatever it is, it gives a platform for where you’ve got 2000 people there who are taking part or coming to support, they can actually then come and try the food. And then proceeds from that can go to those charities. Then, as you’re building the business, you are also living the vision of making making the difference within that community. From the start rather than waiting maybe when you’re a viable business, but from the test areas where you’re still trying to menu, trying the foods, can you also make a difference at that stage. And so that’s how we did it. That’s how we started to get access of the food to different people, because my concern was not much about the Zimbabwean community because I knew they already loved the food or can cook the food. But it was about how can we get it into you know, the English community, the Caucasian community, the Polish community, the you know, all the other people who’ve not tried this food but also how can we get them to see where the food comes from the culture of the food, those sort of things.
So if you look at the Zimbabwean culture, you’ve got two cultures in Zimbabwe, we’ve got the Shona and the Ndebele. The Ndebele people are originally part of the Zulu Nation and the Ndebele migrated from that and some of those diets are still the same. So the staple food like sadza, we call it in Shona, you might call it Isishwala or in South Africa, you might call it pap. It’s all the same, same food. It’s how it’s cooked, how we dish it out, and how some of the relishes are created, whether it’s a Chakalaka or tomato and onion sauce, it’s all the same. So the diets are quite similar within that whole, probably, South African region, within that area, so that’s why we call this Zimbabwean South African, but vegetarian is also a big part of, of that food. So we do things like aubergines, courgettes, butternut squash. That’s because there’s a real, I like the challenge of getting flavours out of vegetables, because a lot of the time people are boiling vegetables, but our vegetarian option is probably one of the best selling when, especially when we do events, it’s out sells all the meats. I don’t know how but he does. And I think having a merge of all those three, because some of the dish the vegetables are kind of Mediterranean. But things like butternut squash is quite popular in Zimbabwe and South Africa. We use it for all different dishes. So it’s even a mixture of all that and that’s where the creativity comes back. So it’s about not just being stagnant and saying okay, this is our food. This is our culture. But how can we make it palatable for someone who’s never tasted, you know this other the food? How can we make them try it? Can we make it less spicy, more spicy? A little bit flavour? Can we maybe take one of the English dishes and or one of the mediterranean dishes and, and mix it up together to get to get it right. And that’s food creativity that’s just how it is you have to experiment and try things.
When I’m first moved to Nottingham there was one shop called, I think it was called, the guys called Makeke, it was the only Nottingham shop, I remember it and they had some of the selection similar to some of the products that we have here back then. And that was the first place that I found Zimbabwean food accessible. So that was the first place that I found African food in Nottingham, but also African community in Nottingham. So remember, I mentioned that there was more of a community in Nottingham by going to Makeke’s, that’s where everyone used to go. So from there you started to find out African people or Zimbabwean people at the time.
I try and incorporate the hobbies in kind of what I do at the moment. So one of the key things that I really enjoyed doing is coaching. So whenever I get time, I get young people in, whether one or a group of young men and women and I go through different life skills. So I will ask them individually one or two, three goals of the things that they want to achieve over weather lifespan, next year, whatever the timeline might look like. And then we break those down into daily steps of how they can get there. And if I can impact or get them to take at least even one thing with them from that. That’s one of the things that really drives me from hobbies, so whenever I get free time, is to do a lot of those things around that whether here or at a community centre, or, you know, wherever the the setting might be outside of what I already do. So, so far since we started by flavours, five years ago, we’ve coached 80 young men and women who’ve come through the business, for life coaching, personal development, professional development, and some of them have gone on to do beauty therapy. So it doesn’t have to be in food, some of them have gone to do landscaping. Some have gone to university, to do Psychology or whatever it is. Some have gone to apprentice, we’ve got one who’s just coming off. Now he’s going to join the HMRC to do an apprenticeship there. And those are the wins for me. I saw that around me what the difference my parents or my auntie made for the people that they didn’t even know. And their lives got better. So rather than maybe just giving them something it’s about showing them how to get it themselves is kind of what what I do. So I’m really passionate about about coaching, I think when you then see the young men and women come through back the door, and they finish their course at Birmingham or Leeds or whatever, and they’ve got a job. I don’t think there’s much anything more rewarding than that. And I only ask them one, one thing, pass it on. So that if you find another young man or woman who needs help, when you get to the level of you got your own business, your own company…I think that should be, businesses should be a lot more socially driven like that, because that’s when you can make a real difference around. And if they can pass it on, then we found a way of scaling some of the things naturally you can’t scale like kindness and integrity, and helping and giving. So, so yeah, that’s one of my hobbies.
I also love sport. So I like football, I’m a Chelsea football fan, but I’m also a Forest, Nottingham Forest fan, The Reds. Jake, who is one of the young men who was who’s part of the Braasi Flavours business, he is a diehard Forest fan. So I had no choice, especially when they got promoted. You know, we’re all we all going to be ending up on those stands supporting the club. So yeah, I’m into those things, but I’m also into reading, I advocate reading whether you know, audio or podcasts or anything like that, you know, for young…because you can learn a lot and you can go somewhere without having to go there. You know, so if you like, you know those things. So yeah, but I like just, you know, having fun family, friends, you know those around food and culture, but I try and integrate all of that within the things that I do on a day to day basis if I can.
So,as a child growing up, I was a bit naughty, like any kid, I won’t say any stories right now. But as my mum or parents were trying to get through to me, especially. There were ideas and things she wanted to introduce to me, but she couldn’t because I either wouldn’t listen, or I wouldn’t pay attention for long enough or whatever. But then she did one good thing is she introduced me to films. Because she knew that with films you were captivated. But what she was really teaching me from films was that there are no barriers in terms of what you can do as a young man or woman. The only limit especially if you’re passionate about something, and you want to make a difference, and your motives are pure about whatever it is, you can do them. And she communicated through movies. So at the time, there were other old movies that she showed me whether they were martial arts, or whatever it is used to give me money to go to the cinema. But when I first saw the first Matrix movie, when I was in the UK, it made sense, in terms of, to me, it’s more like a documentary. So it’s something where you’re watching it, it goes through different facets of how a human being can come from an area where the limit, they’ve got gifts underneath, but they’re not really exploring them. But they can actually explore those gifts or gain the courage to do them, and then make a difference around all the people around them. And that’s, that’s why that kind of matrix thinking is probably what I call it courage for young men and women who come through here, because a lot of the time we all have a certain gift, we all have a certain passion, we all have something that we want to do. But sometimes there is no platform for it. So when they come in, we create within Braai Flavours, and the young men or women who come into work here, as part of them joining to work, they have to sign up to the coaching platform. And it’s one of the key things that you can’t work if you don’t sign up to the coaching. Because I think as they come in, they have to be better than when they first came here. So that when they’re going to university or apprenticeship or whatever it is, it’s seen through that and I got those some of those ideas from the movie, Matrix of how you can make a difference and really bring so, we’re bringing out fictional characters and movie into kind of real life but still making it fun and exciting because you have to be, to make it engaging for people to learn or even to listen to what you know what you’re thinking about. So that’s why it’s, it’s, it’s my favourite. I go to the cinemas in Nottingham, I love the cinemas in Nottingham. I’ve just been recently to see The Woman King. What a film, what a film. But it’s the storyline’s amazing. But Nottingham has got those options for you, it’s got really, good option of cinemas. So you got the Cineworld in the City Centre, you’ve got The Savoy if you’re on a budget but it’s really cool. And then you’ve got Showcase. So, if you’re a movie fan and all of those they also do like premium membership and things like that. So the cinemas in Zim were a bit different. I think they were more value for your money. Than what you get here. So the area that I grew up, in Zimbabwe, we used to have this guy called Manevu Films. And what he used to do is you’d pay 50 cents and he would show five films for that day. So films would start like from midday till like seven o’clock or something like that. Yeah, you know, one film after the other. And that was like your local in the hood ghetto kind of showing of films. And most people we grew up around that way because you could see quite a lot of films. It’s like maybe bingeing on Netflix like you guys do now. It was a version of that. But then you had the main cinemas, which is similar to your Showcase or Cinemworld world now where you know where you could go, by it was more of an experience. So it wasn’t somewhere where you would maybe afford to go every weekend. But when you went it was quite special because big screen and surround sound and all you’d really capture what the movie is about. But Mandevu was just as good because he was cheap. So in Zimbabwe when I went to the cinema, I’m more into like action, sci fi kind of films back then. So I remember watching Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo, you know back then Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terminator. But on some days n I was feeling a bit of rom com I went to watch Waiting to Exhale but don’t tell anyone.
So my favourite places to visit in Nottingham at the moment is the University Park. Because you get a mixture of everything there, you’ve got like a nice coffee shop, then you’ve got the lake. And then you’ve got the lap that you can walk around. You also have mini golf there and when my son was a bit younger, there is like a massive park for kids with slides and things. So that’s, you know, one of the favourite places to visit. But if you’re looking at maybe a nightlife in Nottingham, Coco Tang is a really cool bar to go to. Nottingham is a really great place for bars, food places to eat and also place to visit.
So I try and go back to Zimbabwe every year because it keeps you connected to the culture and sometimes it also gives me inspiration for new dishes that you know, we might be trying to make I’m more into like things like condiments and sauces and flavours about how do you bring flavours to the food that kind of creative side of it. So whenever I go back to Zimbabwe, I’ll go to whatever the new eating place is and then from there I can get some inspiration or guidance, find out what they’re using. So yes, I still still try and go back. But to answer your question about my mum she passed away years ago. But I am sure she would be proud that we are pimping out her recipes now. And getting people to test it.
My family is from Mutare, which is in the eastern islands. That’s where my dad’s family’s from. That’s where I feel when I go there. That’s where it feels more home. It’s a beautiful, I’m biassed, but it’s a beautiful place is the Eastern Highlands. Mountainous. Always green, always tropical, almost kind of weather. Very popular for bananas and tea and coffee. Those kinds, so that’s where I really feel a lot more at home. But I grew up, because my dad we used to move around. I grew up in Harare, mostly.
But home where you get the home feel is, is Mutare. So yes, so Nottinghan feels so much like home, in fact, it doesn’t feel. Nottingham is home. Because that’s where I live. Home means community. Home means family. Home really means to be giving back. Home is kind of what I saw when I was growing up where you can create, whether it’s your flat, your house, an openness to that door of helping out sort of allowing someone else to come in and know who you are, and try your food or know about your culture know about who you are. And also make a difference, you know, to the person or people. That’s what all means to me. I think home means collectiveness.
I’ve got one son, his name is Tyrell, it will be 6 Next year. I think from one of the biggest difference I’ve seen with my son in terms of difference of growing up is access to your creative gifts a lot lot earlier. So, you know, some of the things we talk about now I sometimes think, “Oh, if I could have done some of these when I was 15, or 16, or 14”, and that’s the opportunity that my son does have now,Tyrell. So he’s a creative as well, he’s an amazing drawer and painter. And you can see that coming through at a lot lot earlier age, because you’ve got the opportunities, the schools kind of allow some of those gifts to be expressed. And he’s already had work, you know, artwork in like the Contemporary in one of the, in the summers for his art. So that’s probably the difference. I think, sometimes you can have all the gifts and talents you have. But if the area doesn’t, or the environment is not set up to bring that out, or to give you the opportunity to you know, it’s difficult to do it. So, so I’m so grateful for for that.
So I’m both. I love both places. Zim is important to me, because that’s where I come from, that’s where my values, integrity, all the things that you see even in this conversation come out, that’s where they came from. Those are the roots of it. But Nottingham gave me the space to make them flourish. And not just that, but also touch someone else with those gifts. And I think that’s why I’m so grateful.
So my son was born here in Nottingham, so he’s, you know, more Nottingham than than me. But before I used to try and take him back to Zim whenever I go back so that at least he can see some of his long distant cousins or my dad or just to have a feel of where his heritage come from. And I think that’s important. He can understand my local language Shona. He can’t speak it fluently, but he can understand all the, all the words. And that was one of the key things that I wanted to make sure that, you know, as he grew up, he can, you know, you’ll be able to confess fully, but maybe at some point, but but I think it’s important to really show your heritage and culture because it’s part of their identity, when they’re growing up, you know, they can look back at some of those things, especially now when we can capture content, like we can do, it gives them an opportunity to go back and look at films and pictures and reels, so that they can see where they come from. So yeah, I think that’s really key. My son is, as I said, is creative. A couple of years ago, he came up with the pizza menu for us, they were doing something at school. And I asked him, you know, how is it going, show me what you’ve been doing. And we created a whole pizza menu out of out of that. So he is very much a part of the creative side by because he’s still below 16 we can make him work full time yet.
But next year, definitely you will be coming into the kitchen a lot more, because he likes, although he’s more into drawing and art and painting, but he likes to cook too.
I think the Queen was, you know, she for someone to get onto the throne at 25. I think she was at the time, too when she passed. You can’t ignore that. I mean, she was so young, when she took the throne.
The, whatever the strength that she had to have to endure all those time remember, you probably we know that they were world wars and management and still trying to build a community, and all the work that she did even I think she swore they they you know, not the current Prime Minister, but the last Prime Minister into office before she she passed. I mean, that’s to work until that time, you have to honour that. I mean, that’s that’s just amazing, isn’t it? From a work ethic point of view. But it’s also close because it’s part of this community. In Basford the last Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was commemorated just down the road at Venom Park. So there’s a commemoration there of the Queen. The Diamond Jubilee, which we just celebrated in April, we were a big part of that. One of the organisation sponsored us to do a big feast at Arboretum Park for the for the Queen’s Jubilee. So, yeah, so So that’s a merge of that Zim, Nottingham, UK, integration of cultures. It was so busy that you know, people coming to try the Zimbabwean, and a lot of them were not Zimbabwean. So yes, I think the Queen has had a huge impact on all of us.
I think they they one of the good things you can have dual citizenship. So the ability of having dual citizenship, Zimbabwean and British ’cause I think some countries maybe don’t allow that. But we’ve got the privilege of that of being a dual citizen. So I think it’s given me exposure and culture of the British, but also still keeping my roots and identity. But I think for me because I was born and grew up in Zimbabwe, it’s much harder for me to lose that kind of core part of who I am. From a cultural perspective. Maybe it might be slightly different for my son because he’s born here in Nottingham.
So yeah, it doesn’t really affect me, I think you’ve got the best of both worlds is how i look at it, because you’re part of the Nottingham culture. But you also African and Zimbabwean, and proud for, you know, both areas.
The advice that I would give to any young man or woman coming from Zimbabwe to the UK, or to Nottingham is to be open minded. Because we all respond to the culture differences in different ways depending on your personality, who you are, your values where you’ve come from, because even in Zimbabwe, people have different values and backgrounds, right? But if you remain open to the place that you’ve come to, and try and be more receptive to understand how do things work here, how you know what kind of foods are here, how can I make friends here? So because those opportunities for doing those things are there, then I think you will be able to navigate whether you want to call it culture shock or a little bit better. And openness is the word I would say just remain open