Introducing Tanaka Mugabe
Callers to the SAIMI head office in Port Elizabeth are often greeted by the cheery voice of Tanaka Mugabe, a doctoral student whose enthusiasm for the maritime sector has seen her taking on multiple roles for the institute, from event organising to marketing to office administrator.
Tanaka is a family-oriented 31-year-old Zimbabwean-born PhD student with a passion for understanding human behaviour and bringing about change.
She has been assisting part-time at SAIMI for the past two years, after organising the African Maritime Domain conference in 2014.
Tanaka moved to South Africa in 2005 to further her education. She had decided to study law because she had a passion for “people and talking”, and so thought law would be perfect for her.
Her Law degree was followed by a Masters in Social Science: Sociology (Rural development), and at the end of this year she will complete her doctorate at Nelson Mandela University.
Tanaka’s Master’s treatise focused on the socio-economic impact of Fair Trade on black emerging citrus fruit farmers in the Eastern Cape, while her PhD has tackled the challenge of building a thriving youth culture through the design of a generic framework for youth empowerment in rural South Africa.
Stepping into a completely new environment can be a nerve-wracking experience, but Tanaka says she was welcomed and made to feel part of the SAIMI family from the first day. She has been involved in the logistics of setting up and equipping SAIMI’s offices, acting as personal assistant to the project team and CEO Prof Malek Pourzanjani, as well as stakeholder engagement and supporting the team with background research on the maritime sector.
Tanaka’s first maritime project was working on the international African Maritime Domain conference hosted by Nelson Mandela University, SAMSA and the International Ocean Institute in 2014.
She led the team behind SAIMI’s successful hosting of the South African Maritime Industry Conference (SAMIC) earlier this year, and has been the key organiser of other workshops and seminars for SAIMI.
Her real interest, though, is combining her research skills and interests in empowering people, to become more involved in SAIMI’s developing research programme, and work with SAIMI on the corporate social investment road plan project.