Krystle amoo talks to Belinda Kudzai Zhawi aka MA.MOYO

In this months installment, Krystle Talks part 002 to poet Belinda Kudzai Zhawi about her heritage, sisterhood, black women in media and self love

This month I had the pleasure of basking in the warm company of my new friend Belinda. A powerful documenter, writer and poet, she has the ability, to transport you into her memories and her thoughts through her writing. I was very nervous meeting with her, but on arrival her humble and honest welcome, relaxed me instantly. We talked for ages, shared healing exercises and laughed at how much we had in common. Belinda was just what the ‘doctor’ had ordered, words cannot express what that hour or two did for my soul. All I can say is, I left her home feeling confident and content with whom I am becoming, and knowing that I am perfect because of my imperfections. I started this project to not only meet other women of colour who are creating their own narrative, but more so to tell our story from our own mouths. Each interview is a little different, at present the focus is on liberating the black female body, the notion of black ideal womanhood


Belinda Kudzai Zhawi aka MA.MOYO



Did your parents ever tell you the story behind your name, how did you become Belinda?

My mum says she wanted to name me, Ratidzo, which means vision in ChiShona but obliged my dad because he wanted all his children's names to start with the letter B. There are eight of us.

Being born and raised in Zimbabwe, what are your fondest memories?

I really enjoyed the freedom of childhood and play. There were no tight restrictions on how far you could go to play as long as you came back on time. I remember that commitment to play - being out with friends playing on the roadside and the street using balls we made ourselves using old newspapers and plastic bags. The resourcefulness of play. I remember climbing trees; I also remember the bruises from falling out of trees.

Would you say that your upbringing and heritage has defined you as an adult and if so can you explain how?

My upbringing was based on heritage and tradition and it has meant that in my work and daily life I do my best to uphold parts of my heritage that might be at risk of being lost.

Do you still have a deep-rooted connection with Zimbabwe since moving?

I definitely do but on my first and, so far, only return home I had to come to the realisation that there needed to be adjustments towards my connection. An adjustment to truly make home for my other home, London

Why is it important for you to stay connected?

It's important for me because my work is based around preserving and documenting parts of Shona culture. Also, that is where all my history lies and to find myself in the ancient past, I have to keep that connection alive, always.

What did Zimbabwe teach you about your beauty?

There was less emphasis placed on outer beauty and more on how you can be useful to your community but as I got older I could see that a lot of people were also obsessed with other people's weight which I've always found odd.

If you could speak to your younger self, finding her way in the world what would you tell her?

One day at a time and start where you are.

I know colourism is a sickness that has been, and still is infecting our community. I am interested in finding out; if this by-product of colonialism affected the way you viewed your beauty growing up in Zimbabwe?

I never grew up thinking that being Black/ dark skinned was equal to not being beautiful so these are things that didn't really affect how I viewed myself. Who knows though, maybe on a subconscious level I missed something.

The mainstream media is forever regurgitating the same distorted images of the black female body. Have you personally, ever been psychologically affected by these images and if so how did it make you feel about yourself?

I have been and still am going through a deep journey with my body. Learning to love it more and accept it as worthy and acknowledge its abilities.

What do you think; we as a sisterhood need to action, to ensure our image are always in true reflection of the many faces of the black female community and not just the stereotypes?

I think it's important to tell our own stories as accurately as possible and let the rest of the world catch up whilst calling out any caricatures and stereotypical images

When I look at you; your beauty is radiant, in combination with your gift, you project an image of confidence and self love. At what point did you stop fighting your body and decided to liberate it from society’s chains?

Thank you for the kind words - I am still deep in this journey (there is a lot of subconscious level work to be done). I actively began this journey maybe around 16 when I decided to stop perming my hair.  I love myself for my non-physical attributes but definitely still working on the body stuff.

As a woman it is imperative that we own our own body; how have you managed to stay in control, of loving yourself in a world that is forever dictating what the ideal beauty is?

I think it's important to defend your right to solitude. Being alone with self, for me, has allowed me to work towards building strength in my body and allowed me to be freer with myself. There was a time I hated my body so much I couldn't stand being naked but yoga has really allowed me to begin a connection I only desire to get stronger.

What rituals or affirmations do you actively engage in daily, to promote self-love and positivity into your life?

I try to pray, journal and meditate as much as possible and I have a daily

Hatha yoga practice

What is your favourite body part and why?

I love my legs because they were the first body part I learnt to love followed by my smile because it allows me to connect with people.

How would you describe yourself in just three words?

Scorpio, Pisces, Virgo

At what age did you realize your gift of writing?

I started writing 'seriously' around 15/16

What does having a voice and a platform mean to you, it must be very liberating?

I am grateful that there are people out there who are interested in what I have to say and it is a blessing that at times can be staggering.

Why is it important for black women to tell our stories in our own words?

So no one gets away with putting words in our mouths because they are not brave enough to say what they think of us to our faces

What can we expect from Ms. Belinda in the near future.

Lookout for my first pamphlet coming out in October on ignitionpress

For more from Krystel visit 'NEWS / OPINION / POETRY +' in the menu.

Links for Belinda's work and socials:




Directed and styled by Mia Maxwell / @miamaxwelll www.miamaxwelll.com

Shot by Faith Aylward / @didudietho www.faithphotography.co.uk

Make up by Goodie May Johnson / @goodiemaykup

Hair by Nadir Yukiatsu / @nadieyukiatsu

Modelled by Enam Ewura Adjoa Asiama / @enamasiama , Alice Edwards / @alcedwrds , Merlin Magia / @magiamerlin

Featuring products: 

FEM Merchandise designed by Mia Maxwell www.miamaxwelll.com

Elenge Skin Care https://www.elenge.london

Alles Berlin Clothing http://alles-berlin.net

RJ Sanders Underwear http://bandasaur.co

Kay Davis Art and Mirrors http://kaydavisartist.com

SAS Clothing https://www.sophieantoniascott.com

Hannah Sommer Photography http://hannahsommerphoto.com

Florence Bellinger Artwork https://www.instagram.com/flobellinger/

Thisguise Zine https://www.faithphotography.co.uk/shop 

Mia Maxwell Artwork www.miamaxwelll.com

FEM ZINE 'Women and Hair' www.femzinelondon.com/zine


Mia Maxwell produces a series of films about her contributors for FEM ZINE 'Women and Hair' issue 

FEM Spotlight: Utopia Playground

This new democratic art platform celebrates the weird and wonderful, with a focus on illustration but an acceptance of all forms of art. Their latest commission is from Colombian artist La Rouge, a woman reimagining patriarchal erotic imagery through her brand of erotic art.

Some words from Utopia Playground

Utopia is commonly defined as a blissful paradise, as Nirvana or simply as the most ideal dimension your mind can fathom. We designed Utopia Playground to be a platform for the ever-expanding creative arts community. Whether it’s digital, animated or simply painted onto a canvas, we want your creations to live here. We hope for our users to gain support and feedback for their art whilst forming a community!
Asides from being a platform for art, we recently began to work with our users and other underground artists to commission our own projects. This Valentine’s Day we are very excited to collaborate with FEM Zine to showcase pieces created by La Rouge. 

Seeing La Rouge’s illustrations for the first time will be an enchanting experience for most. Her work is truly daring and bold and we at Utopia naturally wanted to dig deeper and pick the artist’s brain a little. La Rouge’s work resembles classic ‘shibari’, an ancient Japanese artistic form depicting rope bondage. This is most notably seen in the work of the Japanese photographer and contemporary artist Nobuyoshi Araki.
This Valentine’s day we collaborated with La Rouge to produce two pieces for Utopia Playground.

La Rouge Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/larouge.eroticart/

Utopia Playground Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/utopiaplayground/

Utopia Playground Website: utopiaplayground.com 


A short film by Shem Sylvester for FEM Festival event Jan 2018