He has literally taken over Facebook as more and more people follow him every day. While some might have thought the social media platform was only for small talk and casual banter, of late Thomas Chizhanje has proven that just posting on relevant topics may take you places as you speak on behalf of the voiceless.
By Prudence Muganiwah
Born 32 years ago in Harare, the fourth born in a family of seven, Chizhanje — who holds a Bachelor of Commerce Business Management Honours degree from Midlands State University — is now populaly known as CST, a name that comes from his initials. “The S is the reverse of my first name… So it’s Chizhanje Samoht Thomas [CST],” he said.
Chizhanje recently received the honour of being appointed the tourism brand Zimbabwe social media ambassador by Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister, Walter Mzembi.
His Facebook page, which currently boasts of one of the biggest followings, describes his passion, which he says is, “To be a great leader and [to] influence our nation and the whole world in a positive manner.” What he enjoys the most about what he does is posting trending and sometimes controversial topics, engaging the public in debates and discussions and consequently influencing the social media nation, with a focus on youths. Some of the issues he discusses on the page range from social etiquette, sport to the current power woes that are topical these days.
“I also aim to emphasise the fact that anyone can be whatever they wish to be regardless of the environment you are in and any form of challenges you are facing. However, the biggest challenge I have faced so far is the fact that most of our nationals shy away from social media, especially the older generation from 40 years going upwards. They feel like social media is for kids and is not a serious platform. I am glad most people in these age groups are now realising the value of social media and the impact it has,” he said.
A devoted Christian, Chizhanje believes strongly that, “The fear of the Lord and loving your neighbour as you love yourself,” should be one’s guidelines in life. A family man who is married to Shingai Bianca Muchenje, he is a doting dad to five-year-old Thomas Jnr Seal.
“They [family] are my top fans. Family is important and these are the people that are there for you in good and in bad times. And nowadays family does not mean blood related, but also friends that you can even find on social media.
They can be there for you and assist you in ways that your blood family may not be able to,” he said. Stressing the need for fathers to create meaningful relationships with their children and families, Chizhanje says, “Fathers should play active roles and this should be a natural responsibility. Unfortunately, some men are being promiscuous and end up impregnating women that they are not married to. They end up dodging the responsibility of children born out of these extra marital affairs, which is quite pathetic.”
“However, my larger family is also awesome — My over 15 000 friends and followers on Facebook. Ava ndovanoita kuti zviitike [They make it happen]!#Nochill. I would like to thank them for the support they give me and anyone who wants to join this amazing family should just look me up on Facebook,” he said.
He describes his biggest life-altering moments thus far as when he was capped by President Robert Mugabe on his Honours degree graduation, when he got married, and — needless to say — when he was appointed to his new post by Minister Mzembi.
He speaks of his hopes and plans as an ambassador; “I want to reach out to Zimbabweans in this country and in the Diaspora as their source of news and also educate corporate and individuals on the benefits of social media,” he said.
“Above all, I aim to ensure that Zimbabwe and Africa embrace social media so that we can cut the distance barriers and relate more at a global level”.
Chizhanje’s passion for media is evident in the fact that he actually has a media consultancy company which specialises in educating individual and organisations on social media management, as well as assisting in crowd funding projects for the underprivileged.
Drawing inspiration from other people’s success stories, the affable young man lists his parents, Strive Masiiwa, Mark Zuckerberg, Bishop Tudor Bismark and his best friend and manager Spencer Madziya as his role models and the people that continue to push him forward. He is also a musician who has done tracks with artists such as Diana Samkange and Arnold Gara, among other artists in Zimbabwe.