Throughout all the work here so far, we’ve met quite a cast of characters. Here are the main players in this story so far: Milton Nyamadzawo
Our entrepreneur here in Bulawayo. He has lived in Zimbabwe his whole life. He was born in Marondera, about 10 hrs from Bulawayo. He is 25 yrs old and graduated from Africa University in Mutare. While in college, he started an NGO focusing on improving the lives of the Zim youth. Part of his message was to be entrepreneurial and seek out opportunities. Through a connection to Bones in Botswana, he learned of our project and decided to practice what he was preaching. He is extremely intelligent and motivated and a pleasure to work with. He knows about as much as western pop culture as I do which has led to some spirited discussions about how America really is. He fancies himself a little like 50 Cent and enjoys verbally expressing his toughness. Due to this and his small stature, we have dubbed him “3 Rand” (25 cents converted into South African Rand, the other currency widely accepted here).
Cephas Masuku and Nqaba “Q” Mguni
Cephas and Q are Milton’s employees and two of his cousins. Kefasi is 20 yrs old and Q is 21. They have both learned very quickly and progressed well as mechanics and sales guys. They are still young and have teenager-like tendencies when it comes to getting work done but if Milton stays on them, they should be fine.
Mike Stuhardt – The Zim Master
Mike is the guy that has been helping teach the guys how to wrench. He really is a master mechanic and could start at our shops tomorrow if he were there. His resourcefulness and ability to fix things in the poor condition in which he gets them is astounding. He runs a repair business on the other side of town and has been an incredible help to the guys at MK. He is extremely excited to see what’s happening here and will work well with Milton to grow the cycling community.
Godfried is a friend of Q’s and hangs around the shop everyday. When Milton first opened, he let his landlord sell some electrical equipment in exchange for a reduction in rent. Godfried was the guy they hired but since business was less than expected, they have stopped. But the guys here fell in love with him and I think he is hoping to have a job at MK in the future. He works right along side the guys getting paid and always has a smile. He’s also a darn good cook and prepares Sadsa (Zim’s version of Pap andsimilar to our mashed potatoes but from sorghum) and meat for the guys for lunch.
Phathisani PK and Nkulumo
These are the two guys who make up the MK Cycles “race team”. PK is the one they call the fastest guy in Zim and Nkulumo trains with him. They ride in the morning, usually between 40 and 60K per day. Then they come hang out at the shop and help. They are both good mechanics and are even better dudes. Both Mike and Milton are trying to support them as best they can but again the lack of supply has been an issue. Someday they hope to travel to S. Africa to compete.
Tawanda “Mr. T” Madzivanzira
Tawanda is the joiner, or skilled contractor, who is doing the work on the shop. He is building workbenches, a display case, and some framing to hang more bikes in the shop. This man can tell a story and won’t stop until you walk away. His last name means ‘one who stops roads’ and it’s one of his better stories. His grandfather lived on some rural property that was between the main road and a school. He was tired of everyone driving through to get to the school so he started making everyone drive around. So they called him Madzivanzira and it stuck.