The Power of Personality
When Kundayi Musinami stepped off an airplane and into the international terminal of Logan Airport, he didn't know a soul. He had just taken a 24-hour flight from his homeland of Zimbabwe, where he left behind his parents, three sisters, one brother, and the graveyard where his older brother, Gerald, was buried after being allegedly murdered by political terrorists.
Kundayi had taken a chance. It took him three years to earn the $75 fee to apply to the Berklee College of Music, which accepted him. But when he landed in Boston, he had nothing more than a spot at Berklee waiting: he had no friends, no place to live, and no clue how he would pay his tuition. In his pocket, he had all his money in the world: twelve bucks.
Yet he wasn’t worried. Kundayi was a young man of strong faith (his Zimbabwe pastor had raised the money for his airfare to Boston) and conviction. God would show him the way. When he spotted a woman and man outside of the baggage claim holding a sign with the word “pastor” written on it, Kundayi smiled.
“Hi, my name is Kundayi. I just came from Zimbabwe. I am here to attend the Berklee college of Music. I have no place to stay.”
The two people with the sign were Alisha Fisher and Aaron Thomas, parishioners at the Bethel Tabernacle in the South End. Kundayi would live with Alisha and her family for a year. And within a week, Kundayi persuaded the staff of Berklee to grant him a full scholarship. People who met him were struck by Kundayi’s charm. But Kundayi believe God was showing him the way.
One day, Kundayi met Dr. Cornell West, the world-renowned intellectual devoted to racial justice, who had been invited by Berklee to be a keynote speaker at the college for Black History Month. Kundayi was broadsided by the Princeton Professor’s charisma and vision. “I am a bluesman in the life of the mind,” Dr. West told the students. “I’m a jazzman in the world of ideas.” Though Kundayi had planned on a career in music production, he changed his mind after crossing paths with his soon-to-be role model. Music is a universal communicator, Kundayi realized, but politics can effect greater change.
Kundayi now has his sights set on serving for the Ministry of Education back in Zimbabwe. Before that, he plans to earn his PhD at Harvard in African Studies. Once again, he does not know how we will pay for tuition, but he is not worried. Neither are we.