Friends of Muonde is a California-based organization launched in 2013 and housed by the Earth Island Institute. It was created to support and champion the work and values of indigenous innovation in the Mazvihwa and surrounding areas of Zimbabwe.
Valuing local knowledge and solutions we partner with grassroots organizations who connect environment and human wellbeing in the Mazvihwa Communal Area and neighboring regions of south-central Zimbabwe. Our key partners are, Muonde Trust and Phiri Award for Food and Farm Innovators Trust, who we support through our learning exchange and re-granting programs.
We support indigenous innovation in the intersect between agro-ecology, gender, livelihoods, culture, education, food, water, environment and health, relying on the comfort Karanga communities have with integrating different complex issues in practical activities.
Read more about our work and partners here.
Friends of Muonde is run on a volunteer basis by Dr. Ken Wilson whose connections with the people and communities involved on the ground go back to Zimbabwe’s Independence in 1980. In 2015 Ken retired from running an international foundation focused on backing indigenous stewardship of biocultural diversity, The Christensen Fund, to live and work with Cynthia Ong and Forever Sabah, and to have more time for this Zimbabwean engagement. Earlier in his career he left a research post at the University of Oxford to serve as the Ford Foundation’s Program Officer for Mozambique and later as a deputy vice president for Education, Media, Arts and Culture in New York. He has been engaged in participatory research and writing about Mazvihwa since the mid-1980s.
Many other individuals have also come forward with energy and talent on a voluntary basis. These include Robby Zeinstra, Robert Hickling, Anuja Mendiratta, Brock Dolman, Brad Lancaster, Paul Nash, Anita Heim, Attila Paksi, Melissa Eitzel, Jon Solera, Louise Fortmann, Naama Raz-Yaseef, Cynthia Ong, Saori Ogura, Alejandra Cano, and others.
The Board of Advisers for Friends of Muonde includes:
Brock Dolman: directs the Water Institute at Occidental Arts & Ecology Center in California and works on the interface of watershed management, agriculture and community activism. Visited Mazvihwa in 2013 and initiated the teaching of the A-Frame to assess contour and took the amphibian photos that interested the Bulawayo Natural History Museum. He brings knowledge of transformational training approaches in permaculture and water harvesting.
Jaune Evans: runs the Tamalpais Trust in California (supporting international indigenous work on environment and culture) with a twenty year career in philanthropy (including Tides, Lannan Foundation and the New Mexico Community Foundation). She helps us with fund raising, institutional and management issues.
Louise Fortmann: Professor of Natural Resource Sociology at the University of California Berkeley has undertaken research in Africa (including in Zimbabwe) since the 1970s, with a focus on gender issues. She invited Mr. Mawere as a visiting scholar at UCB and connects this community-based work to a wider community of relevant scholarship.
Will Grant: a teacher with many years of experience in environmental justice, permaculture, and community work including with indigenous people in the US southwest and in Zimbabwe. He brings knowledge of alternative approaches to education and of community building.
Meklit Hadero: is a widely recognized musician and cultural worker both in the Nile Basin in Africa and here in San Francisco. She brings the lens of cultural activism and of creative expression.
Anuja Mendiratta: is an environmental justice advocate with diverse experience in the non-profit and philanthropic sectors. Her substantial international experience includes visiting Mazvihwa in 2013 and exploring the issue of disposal of plastic wastes. She brings project management and environmental justice expertise.
Emmanuel Sigauke: Professor of English at Cosumnes College (Sacramento) is a Zimbabwean poet, writer and editor of some renown, most recently publishing Mukoma’s Marriage and Other Stories set in his childhood in Mazvihwa and Harare. As a school boy in 1988 he worked with this team on indigenous woodland management in the village of Mhototi. He brings values of creativity and story-telling to the team.
Friends of Muonde is funded by a cluster of individuals and small foundations who value its community spirit and unique approach: Yes, please we welcome your tax deductible contributions!
Friends of Muonde has supported indigenous innovation in Mazvihwa and the surrounding areas both directly and through making grants to legally registered non-profits in Zimbabwe, including the Muonde Trust and the Phiri Award for Food and Farm Innovators Trust.