Zimbabwean youth's dreams fly high in space

Xinhua | September 14, 2023


The Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe on Wednesday held an awarding ceremony for two prize winners of the "My Dream" Painting Competition for African youth.

Ten paintings, including one by Zimbabwean girl Hope Mafiko, won the "Tian He" Award, the first prize.

As a winner of the first prize, Mafiko received her award at the main venue in China. Her colorful painting, titled "One of the Best Interior Architects in Africa," depicts two African girls looking up to the sky, which vividly depicts humanity's yearning for the mystical universe.

Asa King Zvihari, 24, another winner, was elated to be among the best entrants in Africa. Zvihari won the "Meng Tian" Award, the third prize, for his work titled "All Africans are United and Working Together."

"My painting portrays the whole African nations united together, working together as a nation. So in this united Africa, there are more advantages. There will be empowerment. There will be free trade among African countries, there will be job creation, and there will be no boundaries," said Zvihari. "I feel motivated, and I feel that I am on the right path with my career. I am hoping to be an internationally recognized artist."

The "My Dream" competition aims at promoting people-to-people exchanges and cooperation in space exploration between China and Africa. The painting competition was co-hosted by the secretariat of the Chinese Follow-up Committee of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) and Chinese missions in African countries.

On Wednesday, the Chinese astronauts aboard the Tiangong space station showcased the 10 first-prize paintings by African youth.

Zimbabwean participants who attended the awarding ceremony in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, also had an opportunity to join other African youth in a live session of the "talking with the taikonauts" event where African youth interacted with Chinese astronauts aboard the Chinese space station through video conferencing.

Nicole Njanjari, 19, had an opportunity to ask a question about the astronauts' experiences in space.

"I have never asked a question to someone that is in a completely different space altogether, so it was a very good experience. I got the answers that I needed, and it was very interesting to hear their experiences in space," Njanjari said.

She said interacting with Chinese astronauts gave her exposure to astronauts' life experiences in outer space.

The other seven participants from Zimbabwe also received certificates for their excellent works at Wednesday's awarding ceremony.

Speaking at the awarding ceremony, Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Zhou Ding congratulated the Zimbabwean youth for their participation and recognition.

"I sincerely hope that today's event will help sow new seeds of science, art, friendship and dream in your mind, where I believe the seeds will take roots, flourish and bear fruits," Zhou said. "You are the future and hope of Zimbabwe and the world. I wish you and all our young Zimbabwean friends to thrive and become the pillars of this country."

Painos Gweme, acting director general of the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA), said the government supports space exploration by Zimbabwean youth.

"Over the years, Zimbabwean youth like other African youth at large, have expressed strong interest in outer space and their desire to fly to space someday in the future. The government of Zimbabwe through Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space is ready to actively support the activities that enable the youth in Zimbabwe to explore the universe," Gweme said.

In addition, he expressed gratitude to the secretariat of the Chinese Follow-up Committee of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and the China Manned Space Engineering Office for organizing and co-hosting the painting competition.