From Zimbabwe to Newcastle: the journey of lawyer, singer and fitness model Tendayi Chivunga

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Originally from Zimbabwe, Tendayi Chivunga is a singer, lawyer and fitness model.

“When I was born, Zimbabwe was probably still in its prime,” she said.

“We were the ‘bread basket’ of Africa — so we used to feed other nations.

“I slowly saw all of that disappear, and I slowly saw all of that just wasted away.”

In 2002 Ms Chivunga moved to Newcastle in New South Wales to study law.

“It was daunting, definitely daunting; but I’m very adventurous,” she said.

“I find it very challenging at times; but also I love my job, I love what I do, I’m very passionate about helping people.”

Remaining connected to Africa

Ms Chivunga is determined to remain true to her African culture in her Australian life.

“[I have] cultural gatherings, meet other Zimbabweans and spend a lot of time with them; the decor in my house — you’ll find there’s splashes of Africa everywhere,” she said.

“There are days when I’m quite bold in what I wear, and there are days where I wear my African earrings or jewellery; so [it’s] just the little things that keep me connected.

“I’ve found that people are very respectful of culture here in Australia. I suppose people love it because it’s different.”

But she has experienced racism in Australia.

“I’ve had to prove myself over and over again,” Ms Chivunga said.

“Sometimes I would like to just fit in. You remember that you’re quite different; because there are moments when I think, ‘yep, I’m just like everyone else’, and then I’m reminded by a question.”

Singing and modelling combine

Away from the legal practice, Ms Chivunga sings, and also competes in fitness modelling competitions.

“Law allows me to be a voice for somebody else, but music gives me a voice,” she said.

“I’ve definitely had my mountain-top moments, but I’ve also had my times in the valley.

“Fitness modelling is more about fitness physique; so it’s about definition, it’s about muscle tone.

“There is quite rigorous dieting involved and lots of hours at the gym.

“I’m constantly judged on what I look like, so for me, it’s definitely not something that’s new, but this is where I get to shine.”

Despite the challenges of building a life in Australia, she remains proud of her heritage.

“Being an African woman from Zimbabwe — it’s empowering. It’s empowering to be here,” Ms Chivunga said.

“It’s empowering to have come as far as I’ve come.”

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