Craig’s travel diary: From Johannesburg to Bulawayo



From Pretoria to Zimbabwe: A Fortnight of Connections and Collaborations

by: Craig Tinashe Tanyinyawa (Wetskills Foundation)

Amid the bustle of Africa’s ever-evolving landscape, a unique intersection exists where professional ambition meets personal history. My recent fortnight journey from Pretoria to Zimbabwe encapsulated this dynamic blend. Over two weeks, I embarked on a mission that was as much about reconnecting with the past as it was about forging future pathways. This journey was a professional endeavour and a personal odyssey, marked by meaningful encounters and significant milestones. From Pretoria’s diplomatic corridors to my alma mater’s academic halls in Bulawayo, every stop was a testament to the power of collaboration and the promise of progress.

My journey commenced with an invitation to the King’s Day Event at the Dutch Ambassador’s residence in Pretoria. The evening was filled with reconnecting with old friends and forging new connections. During a brief but enlightening conversation with the Ambassador, she recounted her recent visit to Lesotho, where she witnessed the erosion blanket project born from a Wetskills event in South Africa. Her admiration for the Wetskills initiative was evident, and she expressed keen interest in similar future activities – a promising development for my role as the Regional Manager for Southern Africa. The evening was a tapestry of conversations, from embassy staff introducing me to like-minded individuals to engaging discussions with Wetskills alums and Yeppers. I had an engaging conversation with Precious, an alumna working for the Department of Water and Sanitation, who is now involved in a WetsNext case that has caught the attention of the Minister of Water and Sanitation and the King and Queen of the Netherlands. We discussed various challenges and potential solutions.

The Dutch Ambassador giving a welcome note.

The following day, I visited the DWS offices in Pretoria, where I enjoyed a delightful discussion with Zama, another alumna working on the WetsNext project. We discussed her experiences at the Wetskills Durban event last year, her journey as an alumna, and the project she is currently working on, which aligns with my work.

One of my ambitions for 2024 is to host the first Wetskills event in Zimbabwe, my birthplace. After extensive discussions with my supervisor, Johan, and four months of planning with Zimbabwean stakeholders, we decided that visiting Bulawayo was essential to solidify partnerships. Following my Pretoria engagements, I set off for Zimbabwe, collaborating closely with our programme officer, Mthokozisi Moyo.

On our first day, Mthokozisi and I secured a meeting with Mr. Felix Mudindi, Chairperson of the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), my alma mater. His gracious hospitality and keen interest in hosting and partnering for the event were deeply encouraging. He also invited us to speak to the third-year civil engineering class and extended an offer for me to guest lecture. NUST holds a special place in my heart, and hosting Wetskills there would be particularly meaningful.


The iconic tower block building in Bulawayo

We then scheduled a meeting with the Bulawayo City Council and the Engineering Services Department, where I had interned and developed a passion for water. We met with the principal engineer, Kwanele Sibanda, and the Corporate Communications Officer, Bongiwe Ngwenya. We explained the details of our concept note and clarified our requests. The meeting went exceptionally well, and I am pleased to announce that we will hold our inaugural Wetskills Zimbabwe event in September this year.

I also took some time to meet with the Netherlands Young Expert Programmes (YEP) participants in Bulawayo, interacting with Yeppers from Waterworx batches 1, 3, and 5. We discussed our shared journeys and how we were navigating the YEP experience. We also explored the possibility of hosting a regional peer coaching weekend.

YEPers in Zimbabwe (left to right: Tsopo Sandile S Sibanda, Pauline Sibanda, Craig Tinashe)


I scouted accommodation options for our event participants during my stay, identifying several excellent choices. My final meeting was with a local non-profit organisation focused on catchment conservation and water-related activities. Mthokozisi pitched a case idea for the event, which was met with great enthusiasm and a readiness to collaborate.

As the week concluded, I found solace in visiting my family home, surrounded by the tranquillity of nature, farm animals, and the warmth of familial stories. This brief return to my roots perfectly ended an intense but rewarding trip.

As I return to the Mother City, the tranquil yet vibrant Cape Town, I am filled with a renewed sense of purpose. The support and enthusiasm we encountered at every stop, from the halls of NUST to the offices of the Bulawayo City Council, underscore the potential and promise of the upcoming Wetskills events. With Durban and Mozambique on the horizon, the journey of fostering collaboration and innovation continues.

I look forward to the next chapter and invite you to join us in these exciting ventures.

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