Toastspiration – Edmore Gamundani

The challenge with mankind is its familiarity with the word impossible. 

When I joined Toastmasters in June of 2006 all I wanted was to improve my speaking skills and be able to showcase them in a respectable organization. I attended the October conference in Springs the same year and I was overwhelmed by my experience there. So many elite, well dressed and accomplished ladies and gentlemen. And there I was a graduate trainee from a country in economic turmoil. I had literally begged and borrowed, fortunately I had nowhere to steal, to get to that conference. Only two of us from Zimbabwe were at the conference. Farai Takarupiwa, the Area A1 humourous contestant and myself. We were heartily welcomed and hosted by Willem and Susan Leroux. If at that time you had told me that one day I would be the Division Governor of Division A (Pretoria and Zimbabwe) I would have scornfully told you that it was impossible.

But before I knew it, my mentor and recruiter into Toastmasters, Prof Mufunani Khosa nudged me into the role of secretary of Executive Toastmasters Club. The economic headwinds of the time left the country with “one and a half clubs”. Executive Club was the only one standing and we had to second some of its members to Capital Club (that is why we called it a half club) which was under threat of losing its charter. I was to be President of Executive Club and subsequently, Area Governor of Area A4 (Zimbabwe). I was certain that that was as far as I could go as history had it on good authority that no one had gone any higher from a country outside South Africa. Division A was famed for its bench strength at churning out District leaders and the Division Governor role seemed to have a clear exclusive succession plan for the foreseeable future. With a LOT of encouragement from new found family in Toastmasters I stood for election for Division Governor and the impossible happened, I was elected the first Division Governor from outside of South Africa. Being elected was the easier part, how was I going to run a Division that was 75% in Pretoria and only 25% in Zimbabwe where I was based. My Area Governors were very supportive, and I owe the phenomenal success to them; Charmaine Jacobs, Arthur Botha, Lzt Bloem, Eric Kaila, Davison Ncube and Frank Tsuro. The Division was President’s Distinguished before the May Conference and experienced exceptional growth both sides of the Limpopo. Team work makes the dream work. The impossible was made possible and in the following year Division Z was birthed being the first Division outside South Africa. With further encouragement I again attempted the impossible and was elected the first Club Growth Director and the first member of cabinet from outside of South Africa. Being a member of the trio had its own challenges and debuting the cabinet opened up District to endless possibilities. A key learning in all my time as a leader is that, nothing is impossible. I also learnt that support and mentorship from fellow Toastmasters across the globe is second to none.   My greatest inspiration is that there is now increased participation of the rest of Southern African countries in District events and leadership. In 2006 I could count conference attendees from outside of South Africa on my one hand. Today we have all hands on deck with a fair representation of all Southern Africa countries at conferences and in District leadership. Indeed, we are #PeopleMakingHistory 

 Edmore Gamundani