Fungai Tichawangana is a Zimbabwean journalist, writer, photographer and web developer. He has spent most of his adult life developing websites, online content and documenting society, arts and culture in his home country.
Born in the Zimabwean capital, Harare, he did most of his growing up in Bulawayo, the country’s second biggest city.
He has had a number of short stories and poems published in newspapers and magazines in Zimbabwe, but – until recently – has been lazy as a writer and hasn’t produced anything substantial ;-).
In 2000, he left his Engineering degree studies at the University of Zimbabwe to start Venekera Works, one of Zimbabwe’s first dedicated web development companies. Two friends, Brian Gondo and Tsitsi Masvaure were co-founders in this venture. The company built and managed itsbho.com, an online project which became the leading Zimbabwean entertainment and lifestyle website of its time. Venekera Works also built and ran a business news website called OneBusiness, a weekly technology newsletter, Guided by Light (another Zimbabwean first), and a number of other web projects. Venekera Works was purchased by Celsys Limited in 2007.
In 2008, at the height of Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis, Tichawangana went on to start a few more ventures, including Zimbo Jam, which became Zimbabwe’s leading society, arts and culture website within two years of launch. In 2010 Zimbo Jam was awarded the Outstanding Online Arts Publisher Award at the National Arts Merit Awards and went on to win this award again in 2013 and 2014.
Zimbo Jam and its mother company, Exist Digital, struggled financially in an environment where the inflation got so high the government started printing one hundred trillion dollar notes. The site still exists and still supports arts and culture in Zimbabwe.
In 2015, Tichawangana was awarded a Nieman Journalism Fellowship at Harvard University based on the work he had done documenting Zimbabwean society, arts and culture for over ten years, building online platforms to share this work with audiences of hundreds of thousands of people and creating an archive of tens of thousands of photographs. He was also the Nieman-Berkman-Klein Fellow for Journalism Innovation that same year.
Tichawangana is passionate about ideas and their capacity to transform Africa, about young people and the latent power they have, about books and other channels used for the transfer of ideas. Yaddah yaddah bing bada boom. But for real though.