In the spring of 2020, Ruvimbo Mutangadura, a.k.a. Rue started her podcast, RadioRue. While most of us were binge-watching Netflix in the early months of the COVID lockdown, Rue was looking both inwards and outwards to find a way to share stories that would inspire social change and offer encouragement “in these crazy times we’re living in.”
In 2018, Hart House began a pilot project that gathered together students to teach them the basics of podcasting. Rue was one of the original group, and although it would take another two years, her Hart House experience was one of the catalysts for the launch of RadioRue. Two months in, we caught up with Rue to get her take on podcasting during a pandemic in a world that continues to battle against racial injustice.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where were you born? What were you’re early interests and influences?
My name is Ruvimbo Mutangadura, and I was born and raised in the southern African country of Zimbabwe. A lot of who I am has been shaped by my upbringing and experiences back home. I'm definitely a talker, my uncle used to tease me and call me Radio Two, a popular radio station in Zimbabwe back in the '90s because I was always talking. Funny enough, I've now used that nickname as the basis for my podcast name two decades later.
My mom is a lawyer and I've always been fascinated by what she does especially when I was younger and I would see her go to court and catch a glimpse of what her work entailed. She passed those genes of seeking justice to me. I initially wanted to be a lawyer as well until I realized my love for politics and international development during my high school history class. It was almost like an epiphany, I wanted to be one of the people that actually have the power and influence to make decisions that ensure justice in society. Wishful thinking perhaps but I'm still going to try. Seeing the injustice that people in my country and many other developing countries around the world have suffered is what has been driving me I can't bring myself to ignore it or look away even if I tried.
You’ve been involved with Hart House not just as a student podcaster but also as a speaker and participant in many of our programs. What has that experience been like and how has it affected you.
I credit Hart House for catapulting me into my purpose and destiny honestly. I'm eternally grateful for the opportunities being involved at HH gave me. My podcasting experience taught me the skills I am now using with my own podcast and I made so many amazing friends along the way. I've realized public speaking isn't just something I'm good at and can do when required, I actually really love it. One of my life goals now is to be a TEDx speaker or something like that.
After speaking at the HH Imagining the Future of Feminism dialogue series, and the 100th year anniversary celebrations, my mind was blown that I even got the chance to do that! I was so nervous, I was speaking in a room with the Lieutenant Governor and the president of U of T, but I also had never been so sure that being at that podium, was something I was meant to do. So hopefully I can add a world-renowned speaker to my bio at some point. Hart House really made what would've otherwise been a very tearful, anxiety-riddled graduate school experience worthwhile.
When you started the podcast, what did you hope to achieve? Now that you have a growing playlist of episodes, have your initial goals changed at all? What type of feedback have you received?
When I started my podcast, I had a few goals but the biggest was that I wanted to share my heart. You'll notice the content varies from faith-based to book reviews, hearing other people's stories and of course social justice. All of these things are essentially me and feel like they can benefit someone in some way. As I mentioned, I love to speak so I get to do that, but also as an aspiring leader in politics, I believe listening to people is important. You can't effectively lead people if you don't know them and don't listen to them, my podcast gives me an opportunity to listen.
I've received great feedback so far on all of the episodes, different people relate to different episodes. The most recent feedback I got that really almost had me on the verge of tears was from a friend of mine, she's an educator teaching children in grades 4 to 6 in a predominantly white town. She reached out to say that she wanted to use some excerpts from the episodes that touch on racism and black lives to teach her classes on systemic racism and how to be antiracist. She wrote me paragraphs giving me feedback on my faith-based episodes. Even though she isn't religious, she appreciated what I was sharing and encouraged me to keep going. I have a whole camera roll full of people's DMs and comments on the podcast and I'm humbled that people care about what I have to say.
So far, your topics have ranged from “Black lives have always Mattered” to “Imposter Syndrome.” How do you decide what to discuss from week to week?
I do have a variety of topics already covered on the podcast, and again, I think it's very reflective of me as a person and my interests and passions. Sometimes, especially with the faith-based content, I get a tug to record something, and I just record straight from the heart just talking. With black lives matter, of course, right now, spring/summer 2020, this is a movement that is finally receiving the global attention it has deserved since forever. Still, I've always been doing work around it for years.
If you listen to the Recollecting with Lindi D. episode or even Black on Campus episode, I did those interviews in 2018, when I first had the idea of launching a podcast. Truthfully, I've had a lot of this content just sitting in folders on my laptop for over two years. It's just been patiently waiting for me to come to my senses and realize someone needs to hear it. The Imposter Syndrome episode is maybe my most vulnerable one; I recorded that in 2018 as well for the "Hart House Storyweavers," as the podcasting team was known then, during my masters. I felt like people needed to hear it, and honestly, I needed to hear it because I still struggle with Imposter Syndrome.
What’s next for you? Podcast-wise and in your life overall.
My hope for the podcast is to keep sharing stories, whether mine or other people's, there's a beauty in storytelling that brings healing and understanding. I want more people to be able to listen to the podcast and learn something. Coming from a relatively small sub-Saharan African country, I want people to know more about my country and the continent, to know more about other parts of the world, to know about the intersectionality and brilliance of black women. I want the stories of people and places that we don't often see or hear about in a positive light, to be reflected on my podcast.
In my life overall, I'm learning to appreciate the beauty in being content where I am, I do love to daydream about where I'll be in a year, five years, ten years but there's a lot to be enjoyed where I am right now even if that's not where I'm going to stay. I do hope though, that I can keep honing the craft of public speaking, maybe do a Ph.D. I can't quite shake that academia bug and keep making strides towards that political career. Above all, the premise I try to live my life by is that "I hope someone's life is better by having had me in it".
Ruvimbo Mutangadura is an alumnus of the University of Toronto's MA Political Science Program. During her time as a student, she was a proud member of the Hart House Podcasting team, an experience that shaped her graduate experience and has also had a profound impact on her career trajectory and motivated her to start her own podcast, RadioRue.
As a black African woman, the stories she is most interested in highlighting are those that focus on dismantling and challenging the traditional, monolithic narrative of Africa and other places that are not the West, as well as stories that show the agency, brilliance and intersectionality of black women and women of colour. Ruvimbo currently works at an organization called Assuris as a Corporate Governance Specialist.