Panashe Chigumadzi once read a quote by Toni Morrison that said: “If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

At the age of 23 she has done just that. It started as a short story penned while she was in matric, but over the years it evolved into Sweet Medicine, her debut novel, published by Blackbird (Jacana) in 2015. By then, she had graduated with an accounting degree and started work as a business reporter on CNBC Africa and a columnist for Forbes Women.

When Zimbabwe-born Chigumadzi decided she was ready to learn the business of media, she made a cold call to the managing director of ABN Media Group and landed a job as a project executive at the company. Tackling such an important corporate portfolio in her early 20s required that she be unafraid to speak to power.

Her 2015 Ruth First Memorial Lecture “Of Coconuts, Consciousness and Cecil John Rhodes” received a standing ovation, and established Chigumadzi as a refreshing and honest feminist, pro-black voice in the mainstream.

Vanguard Magazine, the online womanist publication she founded, has evolved into a multimedia platform that tackles issues of identity, power, gender and race in digital, print and on a weekly Power FM radio slot.

Find Chigumadzi on Twitter: @panashechig