The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Book of African Records Launches Zim Firsts

THE Book of African Records has partnered with ZBC and Rainbow Tourism Group in launching Zim Firsts, a pilot project that catalogues pioneering Zimbabweans who were the first people to achieve something significant ahead of their fellow citizens. Through Zim Firsts, the BAR research team is set to sharpen its tools and gain experience in the science of collection, collation, verification and publication of records.

Some of the findings are being screened on ZBCTV one-minute programme before the main news at 7.59pm.

Errol Muzawazi, the editor-in-chief of BAR, said although the project was still work in progress the preparations were at an advanced stage.

"We shall not take that long as we are building on available work and so will not have to re-invent the wheel. You might recall the catch phrase of the African Mobility Organisation which is publishing BAR that 'Africa in action today not tomorrow!'. In this regard, we are researching with discipline, consistency and singularity of purpose. No room for pole pole (take it easy in Swahili)," Muzawazi said.

He said BAR will launch a national mobilisation programme to get Zimbabweans involved in the process of collection of records.

"The digitalisation of the society is still at a primary stage and BAR realises that most records are deposited in the people and not in the online archives or libraries. As such, BAR will soon partner with one of the mobile operators and launch an SMS-based system for Zimbabweans to claim a place in the Zim Firsts programme and eventually in the Book of African Records.

"Simultaneously, BAR will start a new television and radio programME, a vibrant YouTube channel and penetrate into the social media to gather momentum as we continue the journey to the first edition in 2014," he said.

He added that there was going to be a pre-launch of the electronic edition at the UNWTO in August.

The Book of African Records is a project that is researching African records. These records, dating back to the times when records began, are to be published annually, with the first edition expected by the researchers to come out before the end of 2014.

It is a mammoth project in both scale and scope and the self-imposed deadline for the first publication is optimistic, taking into consideration that similar pan-African projects in history lasted decades to complete.

The Unesco General History of Africa, which produced eight volumes of extensive African history, lasted 35 years and involved hundreds of scientists from around the world while the Encyclopedia Africana project, which was launched in 1901 by renowned pan-Africanist William du Bois took 98 years to complete.

However, Muzawazi was confident that the first edition will be published much earlier.

Muzawazi is also the founder of the Book of African Records. In 2010, he became the first black man to cross the African continent by road on a study tour across 21 countries, which feat saw him awarded diplomatic status by the Government.

He was the first Zimbabwean registered in the Guinness World Records for the longest lecture, which lasted 121 hours in 2009.

The Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education selected him as 2009 Best Foreign Student in Poland out of 17 000 international students at Polish universities for his work in cultural diplomacy and counteracting stereotypes on Africa. In 2011, he was voted as one of the "Ten Outstanding Young Zimbabweans" by JCI International.

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