18 year-old Tanaka Chonyera wants to lead Zimbabwe to space

After coming tops in the essay category at this year’s DStv Eutelsat Star Awards last month, Zimbabwe-born whiz-kid Tanaka Chonyera is ready to take the first steps towards achieving great feats in the aerospace field. Currently based in Botswana, where he and his family moved to in 2005, the young visionary, set to finish Advanced Level of school this year, is in the process of registering an aerospace patent, among other projects.

Speaking recently in a telephone conversation, Chonyera described winning the competition ahead of thousands of other entrants in the continent as a spring board “to get my voice out there.” “This is stuff I am really passionate about and believe in, it is not just an idea, I’m a dreamer but I also put things into action,” he said, adding that it was a step in the right direction towards achieving his childhood goals.

“I have such a backlog in my mind of ideas I want to being into life and you know when successes like this happen, for me it just gives me more confidence and confirms that I am on to something.” His ambitions have a solid impetus based on academic achievements, which include winning a multinational STEM competition for best rocket design in South Africa back in 2017.

Taking a cue from the United States’ Apollo 11 spaceflight pioneering landing on the moon in 1969, Chonyera believes young Africans can pursue the aerospace field to changed Africa’s fortunes. “I do think that there is space for young people to implement their ideas as did NASA in the 1960s mission where most of those people were very young and without them there was no way we would have made it to the moon, so young people are vital for innovation,” he said.

The world is Chonyera’s oyster as he plans to create solutions for the purpose of helping “as many people as possible” starting with Africa generally and Zimbabwe in particular. “I would like Zimbabwe to be one of the big tech giants in Africa and I think there is an opportunity there. I do see a certain industry I would like to tap into that I think could help grow the economy significantly within the next decade or so,” he said.

But, first he has to go through university and his fingers are crossed for a scholarship possibly to internationally reputable institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Georgia Institute of Technology or California Institute of Technology, where he intends to major in aerospace engineering and minor in software as well as electrical engineering.