Getting to Know Dr. Ratidzo Mutangadura

A few weeks ago, we published a story about the outstanding phenomenon that is Dr. Ratidzo Mutangadura and her charity called Chengetai.

If you haven’t had a chance to read her story, I encourage you to. In it, she opened up about her younger years as an athlete swimming for Zimbabwe for nine years, and talked about her journey through medical school and what inspired her to start Chengetai, an organization that seeks to empower the girlchild by teaching her how to make reusable sanitary wear and raising awareness about the importance of menstrual hygiene and women’s reproductive health.

Well, today we’re back with another piece on Ratidzo to share some fun facts about her.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

I think I’d say my interest in African history. Growing up, our curriculum was very westernized, which was fine, but the older you get and the more you talk to the grandparents, the more you ask, “Wait, that’s not what I read, though.” And then they say, “But that’s not what happened, that’s what you were told.”

 We’re reading and learning about a romanticized version of colonization in school, so I read a lot about what really happened. It can get a little bit scary, but I like knowing where we came from as African Africans and as African women. I think it’s good for us to understand everything and understand our real history, not the westernized version.

What is your favorite beauty product?

My Nivea face wash. I forgot which one it is exactly, but it is “Radiant” and something. I will never change that face wash, and if they decide to discontinue it, my life will change. Firstly, it’s pocket friendly. Just coming out of school, I don’t have the highest income, so that’s definitely good for me. It’s the only one I use, and I haven’t changed in two or three years.

Then I also have to say mascara. I believe mascara is the answer to everything! You don’t need a full face of makeup, just put on mascara. It opens up your eyes, brightens up your face…you can step out and take over the world if you must!

Do you have any hidden talents?

I don’t know how hidden this is, but I love to cook and bake.

What is a typical day like for you?

Right now, I’m working for the family business. My parents have a farm, and they do cattle breeding, rearing and slaughtering. They sell meat products such as biltong, beer steaks, sausages, etc. I really wanted to get involved, so I’m currently working on their social media. In the morning, I respond to any messages, emails, or anything related to our online presence. At about midday, I head to the farm with my dad to see how things are and have a couple meetings. If I have something else to do that’s separate from the farm, I head back by myself and do what I need to do. If it’s meeting a few people for my own personal work, I do that.

Things are changing in a few months. I will be in the hospital for 24/7 for the next 18 months as of September.

If you could spend a day with somebody famous who would that be? And why?

I think you’ll know where I’m going with this: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I think she’s 18 or 19 years older than me, which, to me, a woman who has gone through more years symbolizes wisdom. And she tackles issues that are not only topical, but very relevant, and provoke questions in yourself. I read Half of a Yellow Sun when I was 19. I started reading it and I could not put it down! It’s touches so many things – politics, marriage, feminism, colonialism – all the things I’m interested in. It’s based in the 1960s. And I think Purple Hibiscus is based in the 1970s, if I’m not mistaken. So we’re looking back on our history, and we’re also seeing how many parallels not only women are having currently, but then also black woman, and where we stand.

I feel like she does everything so respectfully and eloquently, while bringing to surface questions that many people won’t ask. Gone are the days of following the status quo, that’s downward. We’re not doing that anymore. We’re bringing to the surface what we need to bring to the surface; we’re tackling what we need to tackle. And she’s doing that incredibly.

What is your favourite pastime?

Exercising. I do like keeping fit…so running, and I go on walks with my mom most mornings. With that comes a lot of conversation. I do value older women and their life experiences, so talking to her is something that I always love doing, and she has great friends.

What do you dislike most about adulting?

I don’t know if I dislike this, per se, but I’d say having to make decisions that will affect your whole life, not just the next six months. All that pressure, but I choose to draw the positives from it.

What are you most proud of?

I have not had a straightforward life. I’ve had my challenges and experiences that sometimes do not bring out the best side of [me]. The older I’ve gotten, the more I realized that you can’t allow your experiences and situations you’ve faced in life determine who you are. I’ve said to myself, ‘at the end of the day, whatever I did, or whatever I’m doing, did I do it respectfully? Did I do it with love?’ Those are the things I always ask myself.

I try to lead my life based on my favorite verse: 1 Corinthians 13:13: “Now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.”

When I can turn around and say, ‘Yes, darkness presented itself, but I led with love,’ then I know that I’m headed in the correct direction.

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