Shingai MtezoBy Shingai Mtezo|December 2, 2021|9 Minutes|In Risk and Glory

Risk and Glory

"Animate that Egg"

From animating a walking egg  in the back office of a tiny production company more than 20 years ago to animating anelephant for a big screen feature. It has been a long, painful, road for Shingai Mtezo a young African animator striving to be the best.

I have always been a naturally gifted artist all my life. Initially, I embarked on a career path to software development and along the way I discovered computer graphics by accident through a friend from the UK.

It wasn’t until I watched behind the scenes documentaries of the movies Jurassic Park and Terminator 2 I had a that light bulb moment.

Unfortunately, at the time, there weren’t any tertiary institutions teaching animation and visual effects anywhere in Africa, let alone the world.

I later discovered that most artists in the industry, at the time, came from a diverse range of backgrounds and were mostly self-taught. So, armed with a then “state of the art” 56K internet connection (remember those?) I searched the internet for two years for any training material I could find.

Once I realised, I could make a living out of it, I left programming and I began freelancing in Harare for small advertising agencies and post production houses.

That experience lit a fire in me that still burns. I was lucky to realize, at a young age, that learning is a lifelong process.

In 2000, I decided to dive into full on entrepreneurship and partnered with two other friends to set up a small digital agency which provided print, video, web and interactive content services.

Like most entrepreneurs, I found out quickly that my first business venture may not lead to success, but to hard lessons readied me for my next venture in 2003.

My brother and I, along with other partners, set up another studio with the same business model. Initially things were great.

We managed to grow the business into the largest multi discipline studio in Zimbabwe as we shifted focus to 3D animation. I puttogether a 10-strong team of inexperienced, but eager, animators to train and mentor. We successfully managed to develop an animated short film called Gava, Ingwe neMunhu.

Technically, it could have been milesbetter, but to my surprise it was very well received; creatively, we were doing really well!

However, life in the boardroom wasn’t. The flash in pan success of the short film led to a lot frustration as sharp differences emerged on the way forward. Yes, we received a lot of plaudits but we needed to translate that goodwill into revenue; doing this in one market, with a shrinking middle class, wasn’t easy.

Greed and mistrust brewed; there was a lot of friction until in December 2008, I made the tough decision to sell my holdings and leave a business that was my passion.

Again, another hard lesson learnt. The biggest takeaway for me was:  it’s  important to partner with stakeholders who share the same vision rather than those looking to make a quick buck; building a successful creative enterprise was a marathon – I had  surrounded myself with sprinters!

Eventually, the facts were laid bare 18 months later as the business folded under mounting debt, bad leadership leading to a staff exodus. Thefailing Zimbabwean economy was the final nail in the coffin.

I took a break and then regrouped in 2010 and set up Forton Consultancy, again with my brother. We managed to work on some great projects including a Google Earth project for the America Institute of Architects.

I kept tabs on activity on the African animation space I was encouraged by the activity happening in South Africa. Studios that started after us were enjoying financial success on the global stage! The time was ripe.

We set up Ruvara Animation as a division of Forton Consultancy. Instead of building a new team like I had done before; I decided to roll up my sleeves and turned myself into a one-man army doing the work of 12 artists. I was at ground zero and time was not a premium because the idea was to build and establish a system, a Ruvara way of creating animated magic.

"RISK AND GLORY!  (What’s your story?)"

Billionaire Tomorrow launches a new section capturing the sacrifice, spirit and splendour of the African entrepreneur.

This is a section written by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. Each piece is a snapshot in the struggles and triumphs of those who swim against the tide to risk their own money for uncertain reward. The thoughts of an entrepreneur who fights his, or her, way past the naysayers, sceptics and reluctant lenders to stake their claim.

The way to reward and glory? All too often, this is a rocky road, fringed with thorns, with slithering snakes in the shady undergrowth.

You can earn from telling these stories too. If you write for Risk and Glory you get a chance to earn our new token – The Bil. The more people who read your story, the more tokens you earn. Send me 800 words of your story to me at

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Read, learn, think, discuss and change for the better. Reading Risk and Glory could change your story– enjoy!


Chris Bishop, Founding Editor, Billionaire Tomorrow.

I commenced pre-production work for TheGemrock – an action-adventure story set in ancient times. I was still in preproduction when an opportunity to dovisual effects for a pitch to a big streaming giant arose. We manage to execute it well and in turn that unlocked another opportunity for full feature animated film called Rozi.

The budget was very limited but I felt the film deserved the full treatment of a Hollywood quality production because I always believe people don’t know what they want until you show it to them! So, I followed my instincts and treated it as an investment.I felt if we create a product that is compelling enough the stars would align eventually and the right partners would come.

Four years later, amidst numerous detours I would need a day to talk about; we have achieved the goal of producing a Pixar quality five minute short and are moving to pre-production for the full-length feature.

It will be the first fully animated feature film from Zimbabwe for global audiences and a big step to my ultimate goal of building Ruvara Animation into one of Africa’s premier animation studios.

Work continues on The Gemrockwith a target to complete it in the fourth quarter of 2022. Lesson learnt… Just start and never stop believing in yourself.

Shingai J. Mtezo @Shingai is the Founder and CEO of Ruvara Animation. An animation studio based in Harare,Zimbabwe that is producing African animated content for the global audiences. They are currently in production of 2 films. A short film THE GEMROCK and a full-length feature Rozi based on the book Rosie: The African Elephant by author Janet Kaschula, an author based in Harare, Zimbabwe.