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SPOTLIGHT: IDS Grads Changing the World

Mapfumo Chidzonga (MA IDS 2016)

Community Engagement Advisor for Halifax Regional Municipality

Mapfumo Chidzonga 2

For Mapfumo Chidzonga, the most rewarding part of his job is the opportunity to give under-represented communities a chance to have a voice and be heard.

“It is the moment you realize that you’ve broken a barrier,” says Chidzonga. 

Since 2017, Chidzonga has worked as a Community Engagement Advisor, specializing in diversity and inclusion, for the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM). He works within the Planning & Development Department. By carrying out the will of the HRM Council, the department is responsible for making or changing the rules, which govern the future physical arrangement and conditions of communities.

Chidzonga’s work is to include under-represented community groups in decision-making and participation and to provide access to services.

“The goal is to try and improve our relationship with the public,” says Chidzonga. “How we understand their needs and how we reflect those needs.”

It was realizing how I could apply my knowledge from an IDS background in this environment

Chidzonga says his work with HRM relates to his studies in IDS. He says his work deals with issues of power and justice, both economically and socially.

“It was realizing how I could apply my knowledge from an IDS background in this environment,” says Chidzonga.

While providing his department with the knowledge of the realities of communities in the HRM, Chidzonga also provides communities with the knowledge of the planning process to empower them to influence and be a part of decision making.

Chidzonga is originally from Harare, Zimbabwe, but moved to Canada to attend Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. Chidzonga received his undergraduate degree in International Development Studies and Sociology in 2013.

In 2014, Chidzonga moved to Halifax to continue his studies in international development at Dalhousie University. He obtained a Master of Arts in International Development Studies in 2016.

Even before arriving at Dalhousie, Chidzonga says the hands on nature of the IDS department really stood out to him – and continued throughout his degree.

“I loved the program,” says Chidzonga.

If IDS is your passion, go for it. It has so many ways that it can be applied in the world.

In addition, Chidzonga says the program was well structured and Chidzonga was able to adapt the coursework to his area of research, focus and passion.

For his Master’s thesis, Chidzonga critiqued the history of development in Zimbabwe through the African philosophy of Ubuntu. 

The biggest takeaway of his degree: to be proud of who you are and where you come from.

Chidzonga says his research on Zimbabwe allowed for academic and professional growth, but also personal growth.

“I felt more in touch with the history I had been longing for,” says Chidzonga.

Chidzonga advises students to embrace the critical nature of IDS because “you’ll understand the whole world a lot differently.”

“If IDS is your passion, go for it,” says Chidzonga. “It has so many ways that it can be applied in the world.”

“It has the promise of one of the most fulfilling jobs you could have.”