Ngqwele Dube, Sunday Life Reporter

A PERSON’S birthday is an exciting day and most people look forward to gallivant and merrymake while receiving birthday presents but United Kingdom-based artist, Tsungai Tsikirai opted to use her special day to bring cheer to vulnerable Njube residents.

As her birthday approached last year on 22 May, the Njube-born and bred star decided to forego the niceties associated with birthdays and instead asked her friends on social media to assist her fundraise for the underprivileged in Njube.

Tsikirai said she saw no joy in celebrating the day during lockdown and felt compelled to give to the needy.

“It was a time the world had just got into lockdown and things looked bleak for many people especially the underprivlege and my thoughts were with those struggling at home.

“I realised that some elderly people and some child-led families who don’t have anyone to provide for them on a daily basis may be in worse circumstances during lockdown and unable to access help.

l reached out to my networks via Facebook.  I am grateful for the donations from my collaborators, clients, friends and family who made this possible.  I wish to make this a yearly donation. Giving during this very difficult time is essential and l hope to encourage others to do the same,” said the former Iyasa star.

Tsikirai contacted her neighbour in Njube, Ernest Maphepha Sibanda and her sister Christine to help plan and organise on the ground.

Luckily the former Highlanders chairman was already part of the Njube Esquare Development Association, a non-profit making organisation which facilitated the distribution of the proceeds to 20 vulnerable families on New Year’s Day.

The donated grocery included bread, eggs 30s, 1kg buttercup margarine, 1kg powdered milk, 1 litre peanut butter, 10kgs mealie meal, 1kg fine salt, 2kgs white rice, 3kgs macaroni, 2litres cooking oil, 2litres mazoe, 2kg washing powder, green bar soap, candles, matches, 2 kgs chicken, 2kg sugar, 2kg flour.

Tsikirai said after raising 130 pounds on, she doubled the amount and raised more funds through performances to make it a total of 500 pounds.

Maphepha commended Tsikirai’s efforts adding that as NEDA they were ready to work for the betterment of the lives of residents of the section of Njube.

NEDA interim chairman, Bruce Ngangezwe Khumalo said they were delighted to partner Njube sons and daughters to make a difference in the lives of the community.

“As a new organisation, we are eager to partner locally based Njube sons and those in the diaspora to improve the lives of community members. Recently, we partnered with Baby Heroes to donate baby clothing.

“Our wish is for all those in Esquare to become part and parcel of this entity as we work together towards improving our lives,” he said.

Recipients included the elderly and child headed families.

Tsikirai is an award winning singer-songwriter and dancer who began performing at 15 years old with Iyasa and later relocated to the United Kingdom in 2002. She worked with other groups such as Siyaya Arts and later formed Flame Lily Arts with other Zimbabwean artists based in that country.