15 Oct

Picking the Pieces: Surviving Rape @14

She sat on the same seat she was more than a month ago. Gogo, I have come to show you the baby, she said as she unwrapped the two month old cutie, a product of rape. She is 14.

“I am happy to have been in that meeting with other young moms last week but one. I have decided to do ZABEC, which the headmaster told us that day. Actually, I did not come to just show you the baby. I wanted to tell you that I decided to come back to school and write my grade 7 next year. I also came to tell you gogo that the man who did this to me was finally arrested. He is at the police until i do not know when” she was breathless with emotion.

We looked at each other with that smile. She trusts me. She walked more than 7kms to come and share with me the triple good news. I prayed for wisdom, courage and discernment.

We ate mutakura, maize and lentils mixed. We said our goodbyes and she left me with this Alleluia feeling.

11 Sep

They are Not “Child Prostitutes” But Victims and Survivors of Rape and Sexual Exploitation

To:            The Editor, Zimbabwe Herald
All Media

They are Not “Child Prostitutes” But Victims and Survivors of Rape and Sexual Exploitation

I am requesting you to use child sensitive language on reporting on cases related to gross abuse of children, as in the case below that resulted in government intervention to protect. The girls in question are victims and survivors of gross crimes including rape, sexual exploitation, abuse and other human and degrading practices. The young girls should not be called “child prostitutes”.

Zimbabwe even adopted victim friendly policing and courts to ensure that cases such as as these are dealt with in ways that protect our children’s rights dignity and do not revictimise them nor result in victim blaming. Zimbabwe’s own Constitution, and the country’s commitments to regional and international treaties related to children requires the media to adhere to ethical standards for maximum protection of children and their dignity .

The media has been playing a central role in prevention and bringing visibility to such critical issues and this is commendable. You have been consistent on issues related to child and forced “marriage” as well as the cases of trafficking of Zimbabwean women to Kuwait last year. Indeed keep the focus on such issues of child rape and sexual abuse and follow through the cases to ensure prosecution of perpetrators.

A world free of violence and abuse is possible for our children.

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda
Chief Executive, Rozaria Memorial Trust
African Union Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Marriage
11 September,2017
email: info@rozariamemorialtrust.org

http://www.herald.co.zw/govt-acts-on-child-prostitutes/

09 Aug

#Daring@50: The Girls Opportunities Fund: A Special Launch

By Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda

This is a special day for me. I never dreamt I would live to see this day, and celebrate 50 years, earth strong. Today, I decide to make a small mark in creating opportunities for rural girls in this world, especially in Zimbabwe, in ways that seeks to reshape the conversations about identity, capabilities and possibilities in life.

Today, as I received and cherished the birth day messages from family, friends and well wishers from around the world; my own dream hidden in my heart for decades became solid and grounded. I launch this Girls Opportunities Fund, to support African girls specially to think “global”, to have opportunities that enables them beyond the narrow definitions that have continued to ghettoise their identity, capabilities and possibilities in life.

Just like the millions of African women and girls, we are more than a statistic of under development, a measure of preventable mortalities, illiteracy, inequalities and deprivation in our communities. Girls and women in Africa are innovators, talented and change agents. Often such girls simply lack opportunities in life.

I am daring@50 to redefine the self. While affirming my Africanness and blackness, I am more than the colour of my skin and the continent of my birth. Girls must claim their space and voice in the totality of their identity without limitations of race or place of origin. Girls must have opportunities to go global, without a sense of internalised inferiority, with the ability to fight prejudices present in today’s world. They need the confidence to  strive for equality of peoples, fight for justice everywhere and stand against racial discrimination in their personal lives, the workplace and their communities.

I am daring@50, to affirm that I am human first, with integrity, dignity and rights; before my identity is confined by patriarchal expectations of womanhood or motherhood. At the same time I celebrate my being female, a mother and a spouse. I dream of strong girls who can self-define their potential, their capabilities and their possibilities as individuals. Girls who do not look at marriage as an escape from poverty, whose sense of self- worth is not defined by whom they know and what heritage they carry or marry into. I dream of girls who simply stand tall based on their inner self awareness and recognition, confident that they can care for the self.

I am a citizen of ZWE carrying an identity which gives me a standing, rights, obligations and a voice. I have my responsibility to my nation, paying taxes, cleaning my neighbourhood, participating at my local school, concerned about the health system in my community. I cast my vote and have a say in how my country is governed. I equally raise my country’s flag in far off lands, knowing that I will always dial +263 to speak to my friends and loved ones at home. My heart aches when I witness violence in our country. I pain and seek solutions when huge leakages in our economy deny us of decent health care services and education for our children. I am therefore #daring@50 to walk with girls, as we rebuild a sense responsible citizenship, grounded in the spirit of our fore-mothers that knows service, always yearning for accountability and striving for justice.

Over the years, I have been privileged and trusted by young women and girls globally, on my continent, in my Zimbabwe and my community. We have prayed and played together. Parents, families and communities have opened their hearts, their doors and their feelings to me, in public and in private. I have sat on many tables of decision making, whether in technocratic or political discourse. I have dined with kings and queens,  heads of states and all who are called leaders. I have sat on the floor cultural leaders and on pews with men and women of the cloth. I have followed the discourse of male engagement, analysed the protection approach in children’s rights, and joined in protests in cases of abuse and victimisation of girls and women. Whether on issues of conflict, HIV, child marriage, poverty, education, health or climate change, the Africa girl has been the centre of the narrative.

Thus it pains my heart, when the dominant approaches often  comodifies  African girls, and provides a narrative that does not go beyond their vulnerabilities. A mono narrative that views the girls as mostly disempowered and fragile. One that reduces them to a case study, a poster, a footnote or a box of a significant change in a glossy report. The view that stifles their voice, potential and capability, and perpetuate the external saviour mentality.

It denies full focus on the inner being and dwells mostly on the material external conditions of life. I have served in my government, has been in civil society served in the UN and undertake the reality of stable, conflict or humanitarian countries.  In the last three years I had the privilege to serve as the African Union Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriage. My life had never been the same since. Today I live in my village and encounter the reality of rural girls on a daily basis.

In 2007, I dared to honour my late mother in a meaningful way, and co-founded Rozaria Memorial Trust together with my siblings. Today I am excited to share that through the Trust we are rejecting the narrow identities of organisations founded in communities in global south, which are often defined as CBOs, grassroots or the field. The hundreds and thousands of girls we live and work with then also see themselves as grassroots and field stuff. Today, I am pleased that RMT has gone global with the girls. We sit in the corridors of policy making at the continental level. And much more, we are now a registered organisation in the US, thus able to bring our experiences to be truly beyond the narrow definitions of our village.

Finding solutions with girls to unleash their potential is key. African girls need to build their social and economic assets. They need opportunities in education, with technology, mentorship and exposure. We must invest in their knowledge, their voice, creativity, capabilities and their possibilities, thus enabling them to be active and critical actors in the transformation of our societies.

Today, I am therefore pleased to launch the #Daring@50: Girls Opportunities Fund. The vision is to raise $50,000 during the year long celebration of my 50th birthday, and the 10th anniversary for Rozaria Memorial Trust. I am donating my own 10% into the fund. The goal is to raise on average $4,000 per month in cash or in kind towards this goal.

There are three objectives to the fund:

  1. Equip two resource centres with IT facilities and books for two communities in Murewa and in Shamva. Technology is an enabler for opportunities for girls in rural communities today.
  2. Provide educational assistance and support to girls who have experienced child marriage or teen moms. Re-entry to education or training is critical to rebuilding the social and economic assets of girls as mitigation of the abuse experience.
  3. Facilitate self confidence, awareness and self esteem through exposure and creative exchange visit for girls including through sport especially girls soccer.

The #Daring@50:Girls Opportunities Fund will be administered by Rozaria Memorial Trust, a registered organisation with track record of work with girls in Zimbabwe. It had the legal, administrative and governance capacity to receive donations, and gifts in cash or in kind. For US contribution, the organisation is able to provide a tax deductible certificate.

I am inviting you to dare with me for the year.  I do this in honour of my late mother Rozaria, and all the mothers who have and continue to dare for their daughters. For my late father, for the few years walked earth with me, you truly gave your very best. To my siblings, my own husband and children, you dared with me every day for the last 50 years, and maybe many more to come. I honour you.

To all my friends and people of goodwill, you bring meaning my life. Thank you for celebrating this day with me.  I thank you.

Happy birthday to me.

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda

9 August,2017

nyaradzayi@rozariamemorialtrust.org

06 Aug

Its still About Girls and Young Women

Its good to be blogging again, keeping the focus on girls and young women. I took the role as Chief Executive of Rozaria Memorial Trust, and continue to serve as the African Union Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriage. Watch this space.

04 May

#Chihuta Phenomena Reveals Creativity and Collectivity of our Nation

By Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda

I have been swept off my feet with amusement, mirth and surprise by the chihuta phenomena.  Zimbabweans embraced Chihuta in its total being and Chihuta2it has acquired all the symbolism and even a deeper life of its own. If zvihuta chaizvo izvo knew what is being said and done in their name some would roll down laughing, others will skip a meal and others will huddle to a corner to analyse, reflect and define a course of action. Zvihuta have just brought us together as a people, as a collective  rolling with laughter, still struggling to survive and huddled in corners to find solutions.

With the economic meltdown, Chihuta opened other doors to continue the conversation. The floodgates opened with the banning and unbanning of any domestication of zvihuta and their production for commercial purposes. This published decision naturally created an opportunity to discuss about the macro economic situation of the country, lack of business opportunities, jobs, stifling of small-scale business and innovations. Chihuta phenomenon gave the platform for discussing corruption and the ever elusive call out on the diamond money and employment creation. Chihuta therefore offered a platform for discourse on the same issue beyond the traditional political and partisan posturing and civil society language. It created new language.

Well, following the meme and images created overnight as it were, Chihuta became a brand synonymous with local products and innovation, competing with external big business. You could find the chihuta brand competing with twitter, “chihutter”, naturally a tasty ‘chihuta slice”, a clear message to those selling chickens, KFCs etc. A Chihuta burger poster, really saying we can be creative with how to package business rezvihuta. I was fascinated by the multiple ways in which each part of the bird is said to have a commercial value from dzondora, feathers and musoro wezvihuta and how its drum-steak is said to be tastier than other birds with sadza or rice. A clear sales and marketing pitch and angle embedded in the sublimal messages. Who knows, one can build on some of these creative ideas born out of the collective brainstorm of a nation.

Fascinating equally and challenging is how the Chihuta phenomena has given some convergence on various forms of communications and media, to pass some core messages. Creative arts and citizens journalism emerged to challenge and drown the usual dry personality centred power politics on the Zimbabwe social media on national issues. In-fact I followed more the Zvihuta commentary than workers’s day message, as these were also workers with key messages. I could relate with fellow Zimbabweans of all class and character through their own way of expression, a single word, a joke, a twisted version of existing tsumo and madimikira, a song, a picture and a cartoon. I loved most is the constructive positive warmth of chihuta phenomena. I love the Chihuta t-shirts I saw. I can do with a designer chihuta handbag!

Lastly, I just enjoyed the positive energy around zvihuta. A joyfulness, love and all. Anyone and everyone can relate with them. It is either because in real life it is that little bird that people used to see and chase,  it’s the bird now they are keeping muchirugu chavo, or it is because Chihuta is just so much associated with other birds like huku, njiva, chikwari, or horwe. It is a living creature which is part of our natural identity as people are part of nature. Chihuta is not owned and controlled by one person, and so the same with this chihuta phenomena.

Those who feel fatigue of this Chihuta phenomena will have to be patient and possibly be converted. This chihuta phenomena has now rapidly moved from social media to our daily spaces of social engagement, at the kombi rank, kumisika, at the workplace, signatures in love tweets, or simple tokens of appreciation and gifts between families. Check people’s phone books, and you will see Chihuta-wangu and a chihuta profile picture. Chihuta is here to stay. I love my country, Zimbabwe Chihuta changu!

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