Follow the Fellow: Charles Moyo

Charles Moyo completed his doctoral studies in 2019 and went back to his home country Zimbabwe. The Alumnus is now based in Zambia, working as a Senior Associate for the RHOMA Foreign Relations Institute. He describes the challenges he faced during his doctoral studies in Bayreuth and the transition into the job market.

Charles was a master’s student at the University of Passau when he heard about Bayreuth in 2013. One of his professors was organising a seminar with colleague Prof. Dr. Dieter Neubert on “Development Strategies in Kenya and Thailand”. Students from the University of Bayreuth came to Passau and Charles, in return, went to Bayreuth with his classmates. That is where he got to know the university and the city. At the same time, the then MA student met former Junior Fellow of BIGSAS, who gave an insight into the graduate school. Nevertheless, BIGSAS was quickly forgotten and only over a year later did it return on his radar. When he applied for his doctoral studies (read more about his PhD project here), he became a Junior Fellow at BIGSAS in 2015.

Bayreuth – small city with a cosmopolitan vibe

Charles liked the size of the city very much. Although Passau has even fewer inhabitants than Bayreuth, it is mainly the cosmopolitan nature that characterises both the city and the university. The alumnus enjoyed his time at cultural institutions such as the Iwalewahaus. A highlight for him was an exhibition on Zimbabwean sculptures. The fact that he was able to encounter a piece of home more than 8,000 kilometres away was “great moment for me to experience Zimbabwean culture outside Zimbabwe”. BIGSAS is also cosmopolitan by nature – a place where opportunities for networking and cultural exchange exist. His fellow students and the staff “made me feel like home and we ended up being like a family. BIGSAS was not only limited to academic business but also had a vibrant social life”.

Further highlights were also the numerous lectures, conferences, workshops or colloquiums he visited during his time at the graduate school. It was also during these events that he met Ngugi Wa Thiongo and Wole Soyinka as well as many other filmmakers, artists, novelists, academicians. 

KHG and KAAD as important support

“The biggest challenge during my PhD studies was the distance that separated me from my family. I was away from my wife and two kids and it was not easy.”

Charles shares this dilemma with many other former and active Junior Fellows. It poses a great challenge when part of one’s family lives in the home country and oneself tries to gain ground in a foreign place for a few years. The only way to overcome this distance is through digital communication, at least for a few hours a week. When Charles travelled to Zimbabwe for some field research for his dissertation, he was able to celebrate a short reunion with his family. Contact with other international students was therefore particularly important to him. The Catholic University Community (KHG) played a decisive role in this, where he found many friends. Additionally, he co-organised various events at the catholic institution, such as the Africa Culture Evening. 

Financing his doctorate was also not always easy for the alumnus. After a one-year scholarship, Charles needed new financial support. When he finally became a scholarship holder at The Catholic Academic Exchange Service (KAAD), he could not only feel financial relief, but found another important family for him. He was able to attend numerous events and get to know cities inside and outside Germany (you can see Charles on one of his travels on the cover picture).

The time after BIGSAS – reunion and realignment 

Returning to his family in Zimbabwe was one big relief. However, due to the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe, he decided to move to Zambia. There he founded the RHOMA Foreign Relation Institute, an international affairs policy think tank in Lusaka. The institute’s main focus is the promotion of Zambia’s development through the promotion of foreign direct investment, tourism, private sector development as well as promotion of peace and security. In order to achieve its objectives, RHOMA Foreign Relations Institute works closely with the Zambia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, business sector and diplomatic missions accredited to Zambia. As a Senior Associate Charles does not only consult the Institute on its endeavors but is also the chief editor of a new magazine called “The Diplomatz Magazine”. While establishing a new institute into the international landscape is demanding enough, the Covid-19 pandemic is also affecting the work of Charles in a big way. Potential partners cannot be met, meetings are restricted, and no public events are possible at this point of time. Due to the social distancing measures he and his team members are currently working from home. 

We all hope that this pandemic will soon be subdued – for all of us to return to normalcy and for Charles and RHOMA Institute to pursue new projects! We wish hismgood luck and all the best!


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2 Responses

  1. 14/10/2020

    […] hat nicht erheblich mehr Einwohner*innen als Passau (auch unser Alumnus Charles Moyo studierte in der kleinen Stadt an der Grenze zu Österreich). Valerie Gruber kennt also ruhige, […]

  2. 09/11/2020

    […] He is not the only one, who had to study under such circumstances. Our alumnus Charles Moyo (click here) dealt with the same issue and there are many more cases. Most of us can only imagine the toll it […]

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