My #YALICREATIVES #JUMPSTARTBYO workshop experience.

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The Young African Leaders Initiative, or YALI, is not just a fellowship, or an online community, or a place to go for regional leadership training. YALI is all three!

https://yali.state.gov/whatisyali/

I had an awesome time during this week-long workshop held at American Space in Bulwawayo.. The networking was amazing though the real quality of these networks is yet to be tested. I would say I have already started to reap the benefits of attending this workshop even if it was only to stimulate my mind and give my already strong drive that extra push. I guess it addressed most of what I am working to achieve in my new-found career path.

The whole five day workshop was coordinated by two young gentlemen who took time out to be with us, all the way from Harare, Kelvin Mutize from TvYangu and Tinotendaishe Gambahaya. It started off on day one with two speakers who were lecturing on different topics to do with filming. A very inspirational talk was given by Tswarelo Mothobe on editing and I found myself inspired to become an editor. Whether this will ever materialize is another story. That is just how engaging his presentation was as we were taken on a trip into how movies are put together with ‘seemingly’ simple but very effective techniques. It gave us all a newfound respect for how it all comes together and the relationship between the director and the editor. How an editor can actually contribute so much to the feel of the movie just by how he/she puts the recorded footage together. I was blown away. He also encouraged women to go into editing.

We then had a very interesting two session with Japser Mhishi, a film producer from Harare, sharing his knowledge on filming and the different roles in film making. The highlight of this class was the second session where we broke off into two groups to discuss what story we could shoot for a minute long film. Each group had to come up with a plot. From the two plots we chose one and decided who would take what role. I got to be an extra which was so much fun. It was actually my first time on a film set. See, I have been on stage mostly. The film was shot in just over 21 minutes and within the rest of the hour it was edited and completed. It can be found on YouTube with the title Copy and Paste by YaliCreatives. We were very pleased with ourselves as you can imagine.You can view it here: http://youtu.be/6IDdqDLGRjk

Day two was another very interesting day which had us becoming even closer. As the projector began giving our speakers trouble we just carried on drinking up the information they were dishing out. First up was Kudakwashe from Urban Culxure online magazine who gave us insights into the world of blogging and YouTube, their history and how best to use the two and get financial gains from them. See, I just started using my YouTube account, and this very blog is less than two months old, at this point, so this was so helpful even though it made me realize the amount of work most successful bloggers put into their blogs for them to become financially rewarding.

Next was the one thing I have had trouble with and that is Twitter. Gilmore Tee took this lecture! It was quite informative but now I needed to put it into practice. See for some reason I have been rather wary of twitter. The whole ‘hashtag’ and ‘trending’ thing just was taking me a while to grasp. It also seems like people on twitter have always got something short, witty and/or smart. I like to tell the long story see! So its been rather daunting. Well I will share what became of me and twitter when I get to telling you about the final day.

Tavengwa was our final speaker of the second day, coming all the way from Harare to share his insights on how to best utilize Facebook. We gave him a little trouble with his pronunciation of our beautiful city’s name Bulawayo and he was such an absolute sport and actually made the effort. By this time we were so engaged, perhaps too talkative, myself included,it was so much fun. We as a group planned how we would set up a page for a company we made up on the spot and the best types of posts we would then use for that particular company, taking our target market into account. Tavengwa is very passionate about this topic. I know because I had a chance to speak to him straight after the seminar and he gave me good advice on how to market myself on Facebook once my single was ready.

Gosh so much to say and I am only on day three. Now on this day we had Mhle Nzima, who was nominated for a National Arts Merit Award for his animated film, giving us an illustration on the creation of animation, both past and present day. This had us artists wondering how to include these in our videos. GilmoreTee followed with his popular talk on branding, making one wonder about the statement they are making just by the way one looks, behaves and places they are seen at. Tatenda Mkandla and his colleague helped us understand the difference between their professional cameras and our cellphone cameras. We learnt how to edit our own pictures, making the most out of our not so great cellphone cameras. The highlight of this day was the practical which involved splitting the group into teams of four, each team using the information learnt to take their best two pictures to be handed in for a competition online where users would decide the best by liking the pictures and commenting. So much fun!

By the time we got to day four, we probably thought we could take on the whole world together on social media and win. That is how much we were becoming a bit of a family especially for some of us who had been attending all the lectures. Well we had journalists in the house with Bongani Ndlovu who works for Zimpapers giving the first lecture, which was on traditional media and all its pros and cons. I got valuable information here about how best to market myself using traditional media….and also how not to. Divine Dube, also a journalist, spoke briefly, which in my opinion was too brief, on blogging. See he would have helped me even more with this very blog if there was more time given to him. However I did get to ask many questions and am still hoping he will give helpful insights on how I can improve this blog after having visited it himself.

Njabulo Moyo spoke on book publishing and the steps one needs to take to become an author. He highlighted the differences between being a writer and author. The highlight of this day was the session where we all had to write a poem which was to be edited, proofread, published and launched by the following afternoon. Material was handed in that very day either during the lecture or before 8pm that evening. The cover was done during the lecture.

Now, the evening before the final day, I reflected on how people were busy taking pictures during the lectures and always on their laptops. Something told me something was surely going down and I wanted to find out what it was. I also decided I was not going to end the workshop not having learnt how to tweet effectively. So….I took my laptop with me and one of the first things I said when I entered the class was, “Today I want to sit next to a geek”. So I got to sit next to Valentine ‘Valz’ Tusai, who helped me figure out exactly what the guys were doing. Within a short time I had tweeted a few times becoming a part of the team that was making #jumpstartbyo trend. It was such a thrill. What were we tweeting about? Exactly what we were listening to.

On this day it was all about Finances. We had firstly,  Andrew Chikomba, Gemwitts energy, who turned the class rather quiet and thoughtful with his Self Finance lecture, making us reflect on how we had lived our lives and managed our finances. Whether or not that was adequate and how we could improve on that. We learnt how to use the ‘Wheel Of Life’ diagram to measure our progress. The importance of having a good balance in ones life, making time for recreation, family and friends. Tangai Murangari taught us how best to ‘Get The Money’ for projects. Now this had us discussing situations where business ideas had been stolen and how that could be prevented. Tinotendaishe Frampton Gambahaya’s talk was on ‘Making Your Business Plan Work For You’. I have written plans before but have had the need to make them totally effective so these workshops were just what I needed to help me get back to thinking like an entrepreneur again.

Then came the absolute finale. We launched ‘CHAOTIC PEACE An Anthology Of Emotion’. I was tasked with being the MC, that being my first time in such a position. We had such a great time, with artist showcasing their talents in poetry and music, whilst we had music playing in the background which later got us dancing before we presented a signed copy of our book to an American Space representative. This book however is an ongoing project with more poems to be added to it with time.  The launch marked the end of the workshops.

This was, in my opinion one of the best workshops that I have had the pleasure of attending. In 2016 we had #socialmediabyo which was great but left participants wanting more. The three gentlemen, GilmoreTee from Hunar Management, Kuda from Urban Culxure magazine and Munya Bloggo from TvYangu were responsible for that workshop and managed to get a following that has stayed till this #jumpstartbyo workshop,  which not only managed to quench the thirst that was left previously, but also managed to surpass expectations.. The networks keep growing. We hope that this is just the beginning of even greater networks and initiatives that will bring real change to our community in every way possible. This was just awesome! I do recommend young people to become members. A big up to #YALICREATIVES!

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