We look at some of the top people with Zimbabwean roots who have made it big in Britain.

thandie newtonThandie Newton
English actress Thandiwe Melanie “Thandie” Newton was born on 6 November 1972 in London but is the daughter of Nyasha, a Zimbabwean health-care worker. She has appeared in a number of British and American films, including The Pursuit of Happyness, Mission: Impossible II, Crash, Run Fatboy Run, Norbit and For Colored Girls. Her name “Thandiwe” means “beloved”.



Alexander McCall Smith
alexander mcall smithR. Alexander “Sandy” McCall Smith was born in Bulawayo, in the then British colony of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) on 24 August 1948. He is a British writer and Emeritus Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh. In the late twentieth century, McCall Smith became a respected expert on medical law and bioethics and served on British and international committees concerned with these issues. He has since become internationally known as a writer of fiction. He is most widely known as the creator of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. “McCall” is not a middle name: his surname is “McCall Smith”.


jameliaFamous for her use of a cappella and prolific work in the R&B genre, Jamelia Niela Davis was born on 11 January 1981in Smethwick in the county of the West Midlands of the United Kingdom, to a Zimbabwean father and a Jamaican mother and raised in the Winson Green area of Birmingham. She is best known mononymously as Jamelia, is a singer-songwriter, model, entertainer, television presenter and actress.



Shingai Shoniwa
shingai shoniwaShingai Elizabeth Maria Shoniwa was born in London on 22 September 1981 and grew up in South London. Shingai (pronounced Shing-eee) is of English and Zimbabwean descent and is the singer/songwriter as well as bassist for the band The Noisettes. She has a twin sister, TV presenter Shorai Shoniwa.




Kyla La Grange
kyla lagrangeKyla La Grange is a singer/songwriter from Watford, England. Her father is Zimbabwean and her mother is South African, though they both live in England. La Grange’s Zimbabwean dad and South African mum moved to a council flat in South Oxhey, London, to avoid apartheid, when her mother was pregnant with her. They soon moved to Watford (where they now run a swimming club) and sent La Grange to a local primary school, where she was reclusive. Her home was full of “trees and plants growing all over the walls” and artefacts that her parents had collected, including “nude sculptures and monsters’ heads” which she uses onstage to create a magical forest look.


Bruce Grobbelaar
bruce grobelaarBorn in South Africa, Bruce Grobbelaar took dual British/Zimbabwean citizenship. In his teenage years, he was a talented cricketer and was offered a baseball scholarship in the United States, but a career in football was his main ambition. His football career started with Bulawayo-based team Highlanders FC in Zimbabwe’s second biggest city. He moved to England in the early 1980s as part of the ‘Zimbabwean Explosion’ which consisted of himself and, later, Peter Ndlovu. He signed for Liverpool and became part of a team which dominated English football throughout the 1980s.


Mark McNulty
mark mcnultyMark William McNulty was born on 25 October 1953 and is an Irish/Zimbabwean professional golfer. He was born in Bindura, Southern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe). His step-father was an amateur pilot who had an airstrip on the farm. When his step-father was diagnosed with epilepsy, he was forced to give up flying, so he converted the airstrip into a three-hole golf course. This is where Mark first learned to play golf. He currently lives in Sunningdale, England.



Miles Anderson
miles andersonBorn in Zimbabwe on 23 October 1947, Miles’ childhood as the son of Major-General John Anderson and writer Daphne Anderson placed him at the heart of historical change in Africa in the 1950s and 60s. Miles has been acting for stage and screen for many years, perhaps best known in recent times for his television appearances as Colonel Aidan Dempsey in ITV’s Ultimate Force (2002), Roger O’Neill in the award-winning House of Cards (1990) and Terry Fox in the BBC’s Holby City (1999)



Mario Frangoulis
mario frangoulisMario Frangoulis was born in 1966 in  Zimbabwe to Greek parents from Corfu. In 1985, Frangoulis went to London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama to study acting. At the Guildhall he became active on the musical theatre scene, and played Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. After the end of his studies he got the role of Marius in a West End production of Les Miserables.



Dereck Chisora
dereck chisoraDereck Chisora was born on 29 December 1983 in the Mbare suburb of the Zimbabwean capital Harare. He is a British professional boxer based in London competing in the heavyweight division. On 14 March 2012, the British Boxing Board of Control withdrew Dereck Chisora’s boxing licence due to his behaviour prior to and after his contest against Vitali Klitschko. The World Boxing Council has issued an indefinite suspension against Chisora fighting again for a WBC title, while demanding he take anger management medical treatment after which his suspension will be reconsidered. On 12 March 2013, the British Boxing Board of Control re-issued Dereck with a licence to box.


From : Thesouthafrican.com

By Nicól Grobler

18 November 2013