Staff

Chief Executive Director and Founder

Dr. Faith Mkwesha (PhD) is the Executive Director and Founder of SahWira Africa International- SAWI. She was a Post-graduate Director at Solusi University in Zimbabwe, a lecturer at University of the Free State in South Africa, and researcher at Abo Akademi University in Finland. Dr. Mkwesha holds a PhD in English Literature and Cultural Studies from a gender and postcolonial feminist perspective, an MA in Literature and Applied Linguistics, and Master of Educational Administration and Management (Partial Fulfillment). She has more than 20 years’ experience in higher and tertiary education and administration, and working with women and children. Her passion is in women’s rights, anti-racism and eradication of poverty.

Dr. Mkwesha stays in Finland. She coordinates work from the head office in Finland, and SahWira branches in Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya. In Finland she co-ordinates cultural activities for African, Black Immigrant, and Refugee women and Young Girls with Minority background. She launches campaigns and advocacy work to influence policies on issues that affect the minority and the marginalized in Finland. She is responsible for building a resource center for issues on African, migrant and minority women. She also facilitates the building of alliances with sahwiras of any color, nationality and background who are interested in supporting SAWI agenda. In Africa, she also focuses on work to eradicate poverty, women’s rights and empowering women for leadership.

Director of Projects

Vongai

Tavonga Jacqueline Manyonga is the Director of projects at SahWira Africa International. She is the Content Manager at Reignmakers Media Company and a creative writer, who’s fiery and incisive tone resulted in her working with Leadership, South Africa’s #1 Award Winning Business Magazine. She has also worked with Black Business Quarterly. She is the Content Manager for Tribe Business Magazine. She is a passionately driven philanthropist and activist, whose been involved in several NGO work for years. Her focus lies in inspiring and motivating young girls in Zimbabwe to reclaim their feminine energy to dream bigger, identify their purpose and to think outside the box society has confined upon them. She is currently doing writing workshops with girls in Zimbabwe on Reclaiming the voice and our feminine power.

Media and Communications Manager

Amkelwa

Amkelwa Mbekeni-Kapanen is the Media and Communications Manager at SahWira Africa International as well as the host and producer of SAIPOD podcast. She is a radio practitioner for almost two decades. Her interest in radio  has taken her to renowned radio stations on three continents, beginning in South Africa at  the studios of Cape Town’s premier talk station, Cape Talk 567 . She then went on to work at Bush Radio, the Mother of community radio in Africa. In Finland, she hosted  the weekly radio show, Foreign Matters on Radio Helsinki. Presently she is the co-host of Planet Earth Planet Rap, which is a weekly segment on international Hip-Hop in Chuck D’s And You Don’t Stop! radio show. This  programme is on Rapstation and syndicated on Pacifica stations including WBAI in New York city and many others. Amkelwa is also currently producing and presenting  her mindfulness podcast I and Am.

Amkelwa has a  deep interest in retracing and reclaiming her cultural roots which lead her to be one  of the co-founders of the film production company Iliso Films and Multimedia, whose primary focus is to find and tell indigenous African stories by its custodians from an African perspective. She was the director of programming for the Helsinki African Film Festival (HAFF), an initiative aimed at creating a platform for the creative voice of the African continent to be heard through the medium of film, a space where African filmmakers got to tell their own stories themselves.

Amkelwa Mbekeni-Kapanen is active in cultural restoration endeavours, and has created the Yibani Nathi project, an initiative aimed at  introducing young South African adopted children and their Finnish families to the culture, customs, traditions and history of South Africa in order to address issues of identity, sense of belonging and self love. Yibani nathi is an invitation and invocation to the ancestors to help guide and connect us to our roots.

Advisors

Dr. Suvi Keskinen is Academy Research Fellow and Professor of Ethnic Relations and Nationalism at the Swedish School of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki. She leads two research projects: Postethnic Activism in the Neoliberal Era. Translocal Studies on Political Subjectivities, Alliance-building and Social Imaginaries (Academy of Finland, 2014-2019) and The Stopped – Spaces, Meanings and Practices of Ethnic Profiling (Kone.Foundation, 2015-2018). Her research interests include post/decolonial feminism, racism, whiteness, nationalism, political activism, welfare state and violence. She has been the leader and Finnish partner of several Nordic research networks, the most recent of which focused on critical perspectives to cultural homogeneity and the futures of feminism in the Nordic region (NOS-HS, 2016-2017). Keskinen has published several books and edited Special Issues, as well as journal articles in for example Social Politics, Ethnicities, Women’s Studies International Forum, Nordic Journal of Migration Research, Social Identities and Journal of Intercultural Studies. She also actively promotes interaction between research and civil society as the coordinator of the antiracist research network RASTER and its blog Rasismista ja rajoista [On racism and borders].

Merja Anis is a professor of social work in the University of Turku, Finland. Her research activities and publications as well as teaching topics embrace multicultural social work, integration practices and policies, child welfare social work, gender and social work and social work ethics. Her current research topics are ethnic minority and migrant children in child protection services and multicultural and transnational social work expertise.

Ruvimbo Mavhiki-Hodzi is a Doctoral Researcher, Political Activist and Philanthropist currently based in Finland. She is also the current chair of Friends of Zimbabwe Association in Finland.