Zimsecond- celebrating Zimbabwe through games

Arts Reporter

A Zimbabwean couple has developed a board game that seeks to celebrate all things Zimbabwean and covers entertainment, sports, great shows, landmarks, talent developments and history.

Zimsecond was created by husband and wife, Tafadzwa and Ketiwe Mapiye. Tafadzwa has an incredible talent of storing information on different topics, and is nicknamed Zimbabwean Encyclopedia in his household, which contributed massively to putting the game together

“Zimsecond is a board game for a Zimbabwean family. It celebrates all things Zimbabwean. Despite our challenges, we still have great things happening, great sportsman, great shows, landmarks, talent, developments and history and we want to celebrate that. We want to ensure that no name disappears into history, celebrate all our heroes and ensure that those who come after can reflect on where we come from and the attributes of those before us,” said Ketiwe.

She said the card game came about through stories they shared on growing up. She said the fact that Tafadzwa was born and raised in Harare and she was raised in Masvingo meant they had different experience.

“We then put our heads together to record all things we could recall about our lovely Zimbabwe. With his great knowledge of Zimbabwean history and sports, a lot of Google searches and interviews with our parents we had 1000s of great things about Zimbabwe,” she said.

What then inspired the two was the work of gathering all this data, which  made them  realise that there was a gap that needed to be filled, a way of passing on all this information, some found only people’s memories and some recorded on questionable sites online in a way that is fun and interactive.  

“We had a look at the existing games and how we could adapt those to fulfil our mission,” she said. 

Because it is now rare to get family time in today’s busy world, the couple felt they needed something that could get anatete, mbuya, bomalume and the kids interacting, learning new and old things from each other, and Zimsecond does just that.

The games and stories are intentionally taken from all parts of Zimbabwe to ensure inclusivity.

“The game is for everyone Zimbabwean, our vision and core to our values is family time, all ages are catered for,” she said.

She added; “People have been very supportive of our game. To date we have sold over 300 copies, mostly through word of mouth, people having had played it at a friend’s and taking interest. We have also tapped into the home sickness of those far away from home and have couriered copies to Europe, America and Asia,”

Ketiwe said they have engaged resellers in Harare and Bulawayo in Zimbabwe who sell the game at $20 and retain 10% of all sales. Outside of Zimbabwe they have resellers in South Africa and Namibia where copies are sold for R250 and N$280 respectively.

There are also plans to have the game available online when Kwingy launches and the couple is also  in dialogue with a number of bookstores and pharmacies to allow them space on their shelves.

“Zimbabweans have been very kind to us, we have managed to create an ecosystem with different businesses that have allowed us to create value for our consumers, from being offered marketing platforms online, being interviewed on podcasts, and critics to spaces to host game nights,”

However, Ketiwe said their biggest challenge has been distribution in Zimbabwe and other parts of the world.

“In Zimbabwe we lack means of getting the games to places outside of Harare and Bulawayo, we often have to resort to not so pleasant ways of putting it on a bus or losing the customer. We wish we could rely on the postal services to serve people in Rusape, Chiredzi etc.

“Outside of Zimbabwe the cost to courier is 3 to 4 times the cost of the game so most times people aren’t willing to pay for it but in  some great cases some are willing to pay for multiple cases just in case someone else in their circle is interested,” she said

She said their wish was to be easily accessible to every Zimbabwean family, securing a sustainable relationship with printing business, noting their product was 100% printing and stationery, which was not their area of expertise; but we had to learn.

“There are not many Zimbabwean games available on the market and we hope to be a leader in that market. Of course we have our traditional nhodo and pada but those have been reserved for kids and for play outside

“We are always to looking enlarge our ecosystem and create synergies with those that have resources, expertise and experience.  Our ultimate goal to date is to be in OK Zimbabwe shelves as this would give us reach to every city in Zimbabwe and also increase our presence as someone can walk into an OK looking to buy bread and take an interest in our product.

Ketiwe noted they were also looking to digitalise the game and have it available for play online to allow people in different geographies to play together as well as reduce carbon footprint and move on with the times. 

The couple has already started looking to partner with people and businesses with technical skills and know how to achieve this.

“In the pipeline we also have plans to adapt the game to educational content, to introduce a new unconventional way of learning that increases confidence, is interactive and easy to remember. The game will cover mathematical, scientific, geographical, commercial and biology terms. We are looking to partner with experts in this field to ensure we deliver something that is functional and value adding,” she said.

She said currently the game was available in hard copies, noting the digital limitation had been their marketing which was limited to those available on social media, which was a small fraction of the population.

“We are heavily reliant on social media to market our product, communicate and interact with clients. We have partnered with resellers in different cities to allow on the ground support and marketing of the product, having local contact people that are ambassadors of our product and can interact with our clients face to face, get feedback and reviews,”

The game is also benefitting re-sellers who retain 10 percent of the sales providing them with much needed financial support.

Ketiwe said their growth in the next 10 years was parallel to where they see Zimbabwe in that time period, noting they saw the economic emancipation of Zimbabwe through contributed efforts.

“We see development, we see new universities, schools, and new discoveries, growth of the entertainment industry, great sports men and women representing Zimbabwe on the world stage. As a result we see our card numbers increase as there will be much more to celebrate, we see ourselves fully digital and a known brand name,” she said

 The couple has made several social commitments to uplift the communities where they come from, having to date made over 200 book donations to a Primary school in Masvingo. Included in the donation was a full set of encyclopaedias, story books and other academic books and tuition for an underprivileged house wife to get nurse aide training.

“We have so many other targets centered on developing our communities to develop the next generation of greatness and new talents,” she said.

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