Prince Dube, known by everyone as Smokey was born in Victoria Falls and had a challenging upbringing. After giving birth to him, his mother had to return to school so he was partly raised by his grandmother and other family members. He spent the greater part of his childhood and adolescence between family members' homes and growing up he suffered a lot of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. His father, a successful local professional, never acknowledged his existence until Smokey tracked him down when he was 25 years old, however, the relationship between them is yet to be seen.
Through it all, he found the strength and sheer determination to bounce back, take control of his life and turn his experiences into a conduit for social change.
At the age of 14, Smokey was kicked out of his grandmother's house due to a string of complex socio-cultural issues. After living on the streets for a while, his mother took him in, and at that time she already had twins and was expecting another child. The family lived in a series of shacks and one-roomed apartments and her husband would disappear for months and only show up as and when it suited him. Seeing the hardships that his mother was going through, Smokey would wish he could help in some way, so he learned the art of fixing shoes just to put food on the table. Smokey's mum passed away in 2005 from HIV-related illnesses and three years later he embarked on his non-profit journey with the dogged aim to help other vulnerable and underprivileged children.
Since childhood, Smokey has been passionate about the creative arts and participated in school clubs that had anything to do with the arts. His dream was and still is to become a media guru. However due to his socio-economic situation, he was unable to pursue further education in the arts sector, so, again he found a way and taught himself everything he knows today. Smokey has found that self-expression through the arts has been a big emotional and psychological crutch and so would like to share this with other young girls and boys.
As an Artist, he has taken an active role in trying to promote arts to the youth within his community, and that love for the arts and young people landed him a job with a local orphanage where he began by conducting talent shows and later started conducting music, singing and media production workshops.
The experience of growing up with a struggling mother, together with his experiences at the orphanage brought Smokey to the realization that there is a need to break the cycle of unplanned pregnancies, which often leads to baby dumping, by empowering the girl child. He thought, if the girl child is empowered and educated enough to be self-sustaining, then the likelihood of teenage pregnancy will be reduced; in turn, the incidence of child abandonment, which is a desperate act, could be greatly reduced if she is able to provide for them.
Young and Gifted Africans began with small Arts and music workshops in rural Victoria Falls in 2012 and haven't stopped since then. It was officially registered in 2019 as a local Trust entity in Zimbabwe and has been growing from strength to strength.
Smokey's ultimate goal is to break the cycle of economic despair, by harnessing the power of the arts to help young girls discover their talents and provide them with the necessary resources to nurture their gifts and talents so they can be better citizens and genuine social change-makers of tomorrow.