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Environmental lawyer Taku Mutezo elected as UG Alumnus of the Year 2023

22 August 2023

Environmental lawyer Takudzwa (or Taku) S. Mutezo has been elected by the University of Groningen as Alumnus of the Year 2023. Mutezo is one of the new, female young leaders in Africa. As an environmental lawyer in Zimbabwe she is specialized in fighting (international) illegal animal smuggling. Departing Rector Magnificus Cisca Wijmenga will honour her at the opening of the Academic Year on Friday 1 September.

Takudzwa Mutezo. Photo: Cynthia Matonhodze.
Takudzwa Mutezo. Photo: Cynthia Matonhodze.

‘I am a tiny drop in the ocean but if not me, then who?’ That is Taku Mutezo’s motto. The jury for the Alumnus of the Year award finds it impressive that she manages to implement this motto in practice in so many fields and in so many ways. ‘Mutezo is committed to nature conservation, fights nature crime on an international level, contributes to legislation, inspires global consciousness of why nature is so important to us, initiates innovative projects, and is a sustainable farmer with her own urban farm.’

Convince, create awareness, and connect

‘In short,’ the jury report goes on, ‘Taku inspires and amazes. She is leading the change she wants to see in the world—and how! In doing so, she uses her legal background to underpin her work, and to fight injustice and hold those who are destroying our planet accountable. Not through some utopian activism, but with facts and measurable data. To her, the law is a tool—a final rescue. Because it is about more than just charges and fines. What is more important to Taku is to convince, to create awareness, and to connect—so the problem is addressed at its root. Those are values we, as a University, explicitly want to teach our students.’

Role model

As a young leader, Mutezo is bringing about real change. The jury: ‘She shows that if you combine both your sense of wonder and your frustration with academic knowledge, you can most definitely change the world. Taku Mutezo is a prime example of determination, and a role model. In Zimbabwe and Africa, but also in Groningen and the rest of the world. An alumna to be proud of.

More information

About Taku Mutezo

Until mid 2022, Takudzwa S. Mutezo (1992) managed the legal department of the Tikki Hywood Foundation, an international non-profit organization in Africa that is committed to a sustainable, holistic protection of ecosystems. She has recently become active as a freelancer. Her freelance work includes the protection of pangolins in Mozambique and setting up Hambai Wild, a non-profit organization that wants to involve the community in the protection and conservation of nature and the environment.

Takudza Mutezo. Photo: Cynthia Matonhodze.
Takudza Mutezo. Photo: Cynthia Matonhodze.

Since 2021, she is the youngest and only female board member of the Nyanga Rhodes Estate, one of the most important national parks in Zimbabwe. She is a member of Women for Environment and a Mandela Washington Fellow—a programme for young African leaders established by the United States. In recent years, she has become the co-owner of a small urban farm which supplies vegetables to supermarkets and the like.

Mutezo came to Groningen in 2013 to study the International and European Law Bachelor’s programme at the UG. She successfully obtained her degree in 2017. During her studies, she was an active founder of the International Student Council and the Green Office, among other things. She was also the first international student member of the University Council.

About the Alumnus of the Year award

The University of Groningen is proud of its alumni. They are our ambassadors, our antennae in society. Each year we distinguish one of them with the title ‘Alumnus of the Year,’ a prize meant as an expression of both appreciation and encouragement. The Alumnus of the Year has, to our minds, made a significant contribution to society, science, and/or culture, is a source of inspiration, and holds great promise for the future. More information >>>

The members of the jury for the Alumnus of the Year prize 2023 were:

  • Cisca Wijmenga, Rector Magnificus, chair
  • Iris de Graaf, Russia correspondent for the NOS, Alumnus of the Year 2022
  • Joost Frenken, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering
  • Remco Kouwenhoven, Director Alumni Engagement and Philanthropy, Director of the Ubbo Emmius Foundation
Last modified:22 August 2023 09.39 a.m.
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