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Dudu Manhenga - leaving footprints.

I haven't had feedback from my midwife yet - was rushing to do the interview and get something down before the deadline. Not that satisfied yet - would appreciate comments. with thanks

It’s a Monday morning. Dudu Manhenga is just back from a month’s homecoming tour in her birth city of Bulawayo, from hosting a Saturday night show in Harare with other women artists and poets to mark the last day of the 16 days of activism against gender violence and a full Sunday back at her home congregation where she and her husband are both on the board of deacons. The family is moving house, the new place just fell through, and she is on her way to pick up her 4 kids from where they have spent the night with friends.

“This is the kind of day where if I was a drinker I’d have a beer. Give me one of those” she jokes, pointing to the left over Saturday night cocktail special, a screwdriver, chalked on the blackboard of the café where we are meeting.

She is perfectly turned out as always – dressed in cool green, wearing her trademark turban, high heels and powerhouse smile.

Dudu is an artist: a singer, a diva. She is also an advocate and a lobbyist – for women and for the arts. A wife and mother. An inspiration and a role model to young women. She embodies the fulfillment of potential, the art of possibility.

She describes herself as a creative entrepreneur who has gone beyond being a performing artist “I am passion, I am strength, I am love. I am a person who sees a situation that is wrong – who will not only talk about it, but I will make a change”.

She has done that in her own life, taken charge early on. Her father was a violent guy and she had to take ‘big people’ decisions as a little girl. By the time she was 10 she was determined that she would not let herself get into her mother’s situation, that she wouldn’t get married until she had her own stuff in her own right and that the day a man beat her was the day she would leave. “ When I turned 16 and got my i.d.” says Dudu, “I said to my Mum - I am taking the kids (my other siblings) so she didn’t need to stay with him any longer because of us.” That’s when her mother finally filed for divorce.

She and her mother had a different kind of relationship. Even now they greet each other not in a traditional way, “Hey my mother, my father” calls Dudu,
“Hey my sister, my daughter” answers her mother.

The essence of Dudu is absorbing the best of all worlds and making it her own. “If you don’t decide, someone else will” she says. “ Sure in this country there are external forces – the powers that be have the authority, and ultimately God is in control – but I can work with what I have in my hands. Fine the country is like this – so take charge – what are you going to do about it?”

Women’s issues resound with her spirit as does the empowerment and encouragement of the girl child. “That’s the battle of my generation – of trying to find a balance.” There is a dilemma for the independent young lady who met a guy, had a child but who wants to stay single. The girl child has been prepared to be a good wife. What if she doesn’t want that?

“During my tour in Bulawayo, I went back to the schools where I learnt – and presented a personal prize to the head girl just to encourage her and also managed to source a prize for the best student. It was good to have an opportunity to say to the kids that I grew up in a tough situation, but I can change my life.”

“I told them about the year when my Mum couldn’t buy me a uniform and I went to a tailor who turned my old uniform inside out so that the bright colour would now be on the outside. Sometimes I would walk home instead of using the transport money so I could buy a new pair of socks.” This was inspiring for the kids, the idea that yes they could use their imaginations and take charge of small changes in their lives.

She and her husband Blessing are quiet changemakers. They are deeply committed Christians, who within three weeks of meeting each other in a down town recording studio were staying up all night having long conversations about their beliefs and how they would raise their children. They did make the decision to raise their children in a Christian setting. Dudu feels that traditional culture is wonderful when things are going well but that it is not supportive when things go wrong. With Christianity when things go wrong we love you more.

“I like the idea that we are made in the ‘image of God’ – it means the potential is there for creativity. Chrisianity gives you open access.”

It wasn’t easy for them in the early part of their relationship. They were clashing with family and friends in their insistence on living a new way true to themselves. ‘But the alienation was good for us – it made us closer”

Dudu is challenging the status quo by living the future she wants to see. “I am change” she says. She produces three pink books out of her bag – a planner for 2011, a notebook which is her stock take of herself, (her achievements in different areas of her life) and a ‘think pink’ book – her reflections and musings on what it means to be a girl child. She calls it discovering pink – and the realization that as much as pink is soft and sometimes limited, you can put it with anything, so it is a lesson in appreciating the soft femininity as well as the wilder side of woman.

She points to a quotation in the planner

‘The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.’ William James

She loves this idea. It is what she does – continually reinventing herself and her power. ‘I want a role in the arts not just as a performing artist – by the time I am in my 50s I want to be performing at special events a few times a year. Right now my glass ceiling is because of policy issues – I want to change policy’

She also wants to leave a legacy, something that will live longer than she will “I live by the motto -in life live in such a way that stories of you will be told when you are gone. I love leaving footprints” she says with a giggle.


warona's picture

Yaa,really leaving foot prints

Hi bounce

How are you gal,Dudu,this woman my dear she lives combined lives, a diva,she describes herself as a creative enterpreneur, also she is a christian and for that matter committed.Well i can see that Dudu is involved in good activities like the having been from Saturday show in Harare marking the end of the 16 days of gender based violence but am not certain about her undergoings.Bounce i think you need to align these events perfectly in a hierachy way otherwise i dont understand her profile clearly.i dont know i feel i mis something that i cant pick here.I hope others will help.

Thank you for sharing gal



"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

vivian's picture

Well done dando, writing a

Well done dando, writing a profile is not as easy as we think. We are all learning on WP as VOF.

Dudu seems to be an exciting woman. I love the way she see herself as a change. If she believe that then she can made it come to past.

I do not understand this line ....“I said to my Mum - I am taking the kids (my other siblings) so she didn’t need to stay with him any longer because of us.” The "us" refer to who and who. Is it herself and her mother or herself and her father. Maybe you need to rewrite it to be clear and understandable. Also, there are no statistics to support her work and you have not included why you think she is a unqiue - it could be her work, person or place.

Your choice of woman is a changemaker.


''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

Emie Zozobrado's picture

Hi Bounce!

Sister, I like the lines, "If you don't decide, someone else will!" Sure, life is made up of decisions - and the worst tragedy is allowing others to make decisions for you. Dudu is going further, though, she is trying to influence and change decisions of others, particularly authorities, into how she believes things could be right or better, by lobbying and advocacy. We do need women like Dudu to push our issues forward and raise the awareness of society on who we are and what we want!

By the way, I do agree with Vivian. I think there must be something she has achieved or is trying to pursue that demonstrates and would authenticate woman power and its impact to the community. Maybe you can add some more information and expound a little on her work.... All the best...

Emie Zozobrado

Amei's picture

Love this, Bounce!

I can see her in my mind. I can feel the emotions..... "I love leaving footprints" She is total inspiration full of energy and positive power.

All the best :-)


Fungai Machirori's picture

Love it!

I really love it. I love Dudu lots. She was once performing at Spar Athienitis and we were larking about acting completely stupid! She is so amazing! One thing I feel could add to the potency of this tale is if you told us how old she is. I think it adds a wowo factor because she is quite young but oh so feisty!

from today i live out of my imagination
i am more than my yesterday
tomorrow i plant a new seed
nothing that lies behind easy
nothing that is ahead real
my within is all i have today
*Napo Masheane*

bounce's picture

thanks fungai... will post

thanks fungai... will post the latest version tomorrow - which does include her age - at least by implication!
I love her too =- and really wanted to do her justice.

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Great rhythm

Your writing is beautiful, and the rhythm really pulls me along! I think you have a final version here! What parts in particular were you not satisfied with?

Kind regards,


"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

bounce's picture

Thanks Rachael final version

Thanks Rachael
final version coming - you will see the difference!

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