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Nkosi, standing up for good governance in Zimbabwe

Interview by Noah Wánebo
Photo: Anette Brolenius

“Now that Mugabe is gone and we see that the system still exists, the euphoria is slowly dying”.

When asked what drove him to activism, Nkosilathi Emmanuel Moyo’s answer is “passion”. “I’m a person who cannot just come across a human rights violation or oppression and fold my hands”. This is why Nkosi started protesting against human rights violations in his native Zimbabwe, through his writings and songs.

Nkosi realised he should leave Zimbabwe and hide for a while when he began receiving death threats through anonymous phone calls, and state agents started coming by and asking for his whereabouts. It was 2014, and he had just written an open letter criticising the human rights abuses and corruption under the long-running rule of President Mugabe.

“Things were very nasty, very difficult for me in that particular year”.

Nkosi progressively gained attention in his country for his opposition to the regime in the form of open letters, books, and music, and state agents were taking notice. Under growing pressure, he went into temporary exile in South Africa, Belgium, and eventually the Netherlands, where he stayed with the programme Shelter City in Utrecht. There he met other activists in the world of human rights, learned new strategies, though more fundamentally, he found room to relax for a moment.

“It was very, very important, because those three months gave me enough time to breathe in fresh air.”