I spent the evening of the 3rd October 2015 at the grand Council House in Birmingham celebrating ordinary extraordinary Zimbabwean women doing wonderful and inspiring things in all spheres of life. The Zimbabwe International Women’s Awards is in its second year and proving to be a fantastic platform to honouring women. I did not attend last year’s ceremony and so I went with no preconceived notions but with an aim to have a wonderful evening.
As I was also a nominee for general Blogger of the Year, I had had pre event communication with the ZIWA team. I have to commend the professionalism in their communication. Looking at the way the team is set up , with allocated tasks and specialty, I found no fault. The use of social media, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, most definitely helped spread the word about what the ZIWAs are about. I would have preferred a more robust press campaign in the call for nominees stage, particularly for people based in Zimbabwe, to ensure that there is no discontent at how nominees came about. Perhaps for next year, the ZIWA team should look to work with the print and broadcast media to widen their reach.
I arrived at the venue just after 5pm as had been requested to come early. While I was not expecting everyone to be there at 5pm on the dot, I was disappointed to have found a few people waiting outside the venue with doors shut. We did eventually get in and were warmly welcomed by hosts. The checking in was fairly simple and quick and as nominees we got lovely bracelets..
Walking up the grand stairs into the hall was a beautiful sight. The table setting was pleasing to the eye and the background music was carefully selected to meet various tastes.
For someone who had arrived two hours before, I was disappointed to have had to wait for the awards ceremony to eventually start later than previously communicated. It also would have been lovely to have the founders of ZIWA to arrive earlier than guests to allow a smooth small talk and networking opportunity before formalities. Once the ceremony started, all ills were forgotten. The Master of Ceremonies was lively and engaging enough although she could have been more assertive in dealing with guests who were at times loud.
I absolutely loved the food, most certainly because it was ready to eat warm – a challenge at most events.
For future events, it would be best if the ZIWA team could ensure a quick dining experience by avoiding long awkward waits in between the starter, main course and dessert. It would also be best to have performances while guests are dining both for entertainment purposes and to shorten the long ceremony. The choice of performers was fantastic.
I felt that the awards ceremony needed to have started earlier than it did. The long intermittent wait for food had changed the atmosphere as guests found ways to fill the gaps. A programme detailing the order of categories would be helpful in the future – perhaps a screen by the stage not necessarily an individual programme. The ZIWA team should also ensure that nominees or their representatives, should be seated near the stage area. The photo background banner had creases which did not look good on photos. Last award was called out just after 11pm.
ZIWA must be commended for a fantastic and admirable effort. It was a beautiful evening, a good night out with great food and company. The idea is there and it’s execution is one that will improve with experience. The stories of the nominees are inspiring and deserving of the attention, appreciation and celebration – and ZIWA is doing that. The best part of the evening for me was when 12 year old Tanya won her Sports award, when young Paida shared her Courage award with her mum and when the guests joined sang along to Busi Ncube’s True Love in honour of her Lifetime Achievement award.
I look forward to a bigger and better ZIWA 2016!