HARARE – “Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you must keep moving,” so said Albert Einstein, a renowned philosopher of the 19th century.
His statement might not mean much for many youths born to fortunate parents, but bear testimony to how Innocent Chingono, who despite having an unemployed mother as a resource person, conquered the odds to invent a mobile-linked device for opening electric gates.
While his peers enjoyed full support of both parents in sending them to school, he had to rely on an unemployed woman to have a meal on the table as well as pay his school fees at Zengeza High 1 — in the dormitory town of Chitungwiza.
With life being generally tough even for those who are gainfully employed, Chingono’s mother, a widow, toiled to send her son to school.
Getting a single meal on any given day was the family’s greatest daily achievement, while sparing a dollar for school fees was something which presented a further challenge.
In all this, the 21-year-old Chingono never lost focus of achieving great things and turning around the life of his mother for the better.
After struggling to make her reach Form Two, things came to a head as resources to pay school fees were scarce, while his quest for a better future was also ravenous.
The inner desire to have a life of his own and surmount hunger and starvation that had chastised his family for too long, pushed him to read hard for his Ordinary Level exams from home, relying on borrowed textbooks and a few explanations from his peers fortunate to be attending classroom lessons.
As they say, “where there is a will, there is a way”, today he is a Lower Sixth student at Conway College — an elite top class school located outside Harare — reading for science subjects, after passing his “O” Level exams with flying colours.
His creativity and brilliance has seen him invent a mobile switcher — a switch that uses a mobile sim card to open or close a gate at home or at work.
The marvelous invention comes from a poor boy who is not a scientist by training, not just by imagination.
“It is just a talent in me, I never studied science subjects at school except for Integrated Science, which I did on my own and passed with a C,” he told the Daily News during an interview at the just-ended Harare Agricultural Show.
Seeing his academic ecxellence, the ministry of Education invited him to exhibit his ingenuity.
This is where he met Lovemore Kurotwi, Conway College owner and Harare businessperson, who could not resist enquiring on the sophisticated gadget which looked spectacular from afar but intricate in function.
“With this gadget, you don’t need to be at home to close or to open the gate. You just need a sim card inside the device and when you dial that number, the gate automatically opens,” he explains.
“You can call the number of the sim card from Bulawayo or South Africa for your home in Harare to open and close it. Someone who knows the number of the sim card can just call it and open the gate without having to wait for you. It is a time saving and user-friendly device made in a layman’s model for simple people like you,” he says.
“I see a great engineer in this guy, he is genius and given his background and upbringing, it is unexpected of him. That is why I said let me take him and offer assistance so that he can get quality education in a relevant field,” Kurotwi said. He offered the whiz kid a scholarship to study science subjects in his college.
Although he got better passes in arts subjects at “O” Level, he has enrolled for science subjects, with a combination of Mathematics, Geography and Physics.
“I will conquer, I have this feeling that I will get not less than 12 points at the end of it all and be a person I wish to be. This is like a dream to me, I have to live and ensure that I reap best benefits from it,” Chingono said.
“I know that it is going to be a tough time for me, but I will not despair and lose focus, I want to change the life my mother lived under and bring happiness on her face.”
His role model is Strive Masiyiwa, a Zimbabwean engineer owner of bluechip company Econet — which has grown to be a leading player in the cellphone sector.
“I also get inspiration from my mother and God. Masiyiwa makes me believe that I can make it in life. It is just this talent which he gave me that inspires me daily to conquer life,” he passionately said.
Just like his admirer, Masiyiwa grew up in a humble family to become a household name.
Although Chingono’s innovation is yet to go commercial and get much attention from possible users, it has been sampled by the ministry of Education.
The budding technician is not resting.
He is pondering on his next creation, which he says, will be an advanced model which could enable people to control water pumps and generators using mobile phones while away from their stations.
“I am just dreaming about this gadget, but I hope that it will be a novelty. I am still putting it inside my head and I will try it when I am done with “A” Level or during school holidays,” he says.
With Chingono being the cyclist of this scientific life, his ambitious scientific thoughts and creativity are poised to take his wretched life tale to a success story.
Innocent ChingonoMobile-linked device for opening electric gates that Innocent invented.