26 Apr

Lets Help Nepal: Lets Support Raneej

NEPALThe news hit us like a tonne of bricks, an earthquake in Nepal. Munashe, my son immediately said “mom, I hope Raneej’s family is okay”. He immediately contacted his friend with whom he had studied at Webster  for years. Raneej had grown to be my own son. I was worried just as much, for Raneej, his family and his country.

As the painful statistics poured in, so was my own sense of pain, fear and anxiety. I had this deep urge to do something practical and meaningful. I had been in touch with our  YWCA sisters in Nepal, offered our prayers and messages of solidarity.

Within 48 hours, the world had started to respond, and huge appeals for support underway from big charities like OXFAM, Save the Children and women’s funds like the Global Fund for Women. At least the world was on its feet standing up with the people of Nepal.

Munashe was standing stood there, cleared his thought and said  “Mom, lets support Raneej, he has set up a fundraising effort for the earthquake”. I jumped immediately, and was immediately posting my twitter and facebook.

Ask me why, I was immediately moved to action. It is about the Nepalese people standing up to help their people, while respecting that the world is there with them. It is their country, their people, and they will always be there when the dust has settled and the world has moved to another crisis point. Yes, I am moved, because it is about young people being responsible, showing empathy, compassion and harnessing their own networks and technology to make a difference. Yes, Raneej, I am listening, we will do our best to help Nepal.

Be generous, DONATE and share with your networks.

http://www.gofundme.com/swtzjf7

 

 

15 Apr

Zimbabwe Women’s Statement on South Africa Xenophobic Attacks

We the women of Africa, citizens of Zimbabwe, bemoan and denounce the slaughter of the sons and daughters of Africa in gruesome xenophobic attacks that have so far claimed five lives and maimed many in neighbouring South Africa. These statistics are appalling.

However, statistics do not die, it is our sons, daughters, neighbours; who are being pelted by stones and boulders, and burnt to death in cold blood. What makes it worse is that xenophobic attacks have happened before and impunity for that outrage is what is strengthening the resolve of the current perpetrators.

  • We call on the Zimbabwean government, in their position as the SADC & AU Chair, in the spirit of Pan-Africanism, African Renaissance, and Ubuntu, to call for urgent negotiations with the South African government, as we cannot wait any longer as more lives continue to be at risk.
  • We immediately demand national governments to engage; through the Foreign Ministries, South African ambassadors to discuss the situation and communicate the official South African position, as well as negotiate amicable solutions to the current situation.
  • We call upon responsible authorities to ensure that the underlying causes of xenophobic attacks are addressed immediately. The influx of economic and political refugees into South Africa reflects recurring and unaddressed socio-economic problems from the migrant countries, including Zimbabwe.
  • We call upon the Zimbabwean government to urgently address and come up with concrete and sustained economic recovery solutions that will guarantee our people the freedom to choose to escape xenophobia, hatred and slavery, and return home to secure their livelihoods and contribute positively to nation building and overall development of our social fabric and economy.
  • We remind our government that in as much as many Zimbabweans have benefited from employment and other opportunities in South Africa, our people too have contributed immensely to South Africa’s economic growth, through labour, partnerships and trade. Today, on almost a quarterly basis, Zimbabwe hosts South African artists, and the revenue generated is ploughed into the South African economy. On a daily basis, Zimbabweans consume Proudly South African products; from tomatoes, yoghurt, rice, to industrial machinery and airline services. Businesses like South African Airways, KFC, Pick n Pay and many others continue to thrive due to our contribution, both inside South Africa and in our own countries.
  • We challenge our governments to remind South Africa that our countries depend on each other for economic growth; and that xenophobia is bad for business. As mourning citizens, we are considering boycotting South African businesses and products because the principle of Ubuntu has been undermined by xenophobia. If we are not good enough for their country, then we should not be good enough for their services and products in our countries. We cannot continue to feast and promote the South African economy, the very hand that is killing us.

Legal Instruments against xenophobia

Recalling the precepts of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) to which our governments are signatory to; where Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co- operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

  • Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
  • Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • Article 13: (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
  •                  (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
  • Article 14: (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

Considering the Charter of the Organisation of African Unity, which stipulates that ‘freedom, equality, justice and dignity, are essential objectives for the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of the African people.’

Recalling that the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights recognizes on the one hand, that fundamental human rights stem from the attributes of human beings, which justifies their national and international protection…’

  • Furthermore, Article 4 states that ‘Human beings are inviolable. Every Human being is entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right.
  • Article 5. Every individual shall have the right to the respect of dignity inherent in a human being and to the recognition of his legal status. All forms of exploitation and degradation of man particularly slavery, slave trade, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and treatment shall be prohibited.

This Statement was prepared by the members of the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, a network of women rights activists and women’s organisations.

Contact:

Virginia Muwanigwa

Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe Chairperson

Mobile: +263 772 327 955

Email: coalition@zol.co.zw or ginnyvee@gmail.com

12 Apr

She Plaited My Hair Today – Snippet of My Life 16

Me & My Hair

It was heavenly. It was bliss. It was soothing to the soul and to my skin. It was a spiritual massage of sorts. For a good two hours plus, my daughter was plaiting my hair. A simple carpet style, no extensions or weaves, just my natural kinky air twisted as has been done for generations before. It was more than a mother-daughter moment, it was simply THE MOMENT.

Twenty-one (21) years ago, when I touched my extended very pregnant tummy, I would dream my life with the child to be born. A baby girl it must be, and it was. I imagined myself plaiting her hair, and going places with her. I saw her doing my hair when she grew older and as I aged! She would count each hair string, and touch the greying pieces with meaning and love. As she grew up, I simply had no time or skill to teach her hair plaiting. She self-taught. She does plait her own hair, and today, oh yes today, the long awaited day arrived.

As we sat for hours today, we travelled our world with ease, chatting as her hand navigated my head, deciding on the best way to approach the task at hand. We talked about my sisters and how we used to do hair in the village. We chatted about sisi Gladys, Mai Yona, and how she used to do tight knots that you would literally cry. We laughed about the pain of beauty, and the myriad choices we have with African hair.

As she picked the comb, and started the first row, our conversation shifted to food. It was random conversations about vegetables, shopping and preservation of food in this part of the world. We had a huge discussion about the GMOs and the impact on food quality and nutrients, the impact on our pockets as consumers and how it all seems to be market driven technology.  We almost signed a pact of sorts, as we decided to buy from the local street farmers as much as possible. Maybe we should mark our calendars for dates the when the local farmers food market is in the neighbourhood. The comb dropped, and so we dropped this conversation and drifted on, freely.

We drowned in the joyous moments of silence. I almost took a power nap. A little dozing and nodding. Oh no, mum, keep your head straight! I was bathed in this love and tranquility of her presence. The world stopped and nothing matter. Bliss.

Yes, an advert flashed on TV and it was about all these famous guys who are supporting “He for She”! Oh, that sparked a deep conversation about feminism and Emma Watson. We recalled our participation and chanting in the March for Gender Equality in New York at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) in March this year.  This was another level of mother daughter connecting. We recalled the many places we have travelled together since she was young, as I push the agenda for women and girls around the world.

She stopped plaiting, with comb in hand, and with this clearest voice she said: “You know what mum, I like it so much that dad and mukoma Munashe can stand up for me in my life. But you know what, they are not going to be around me every minute of my life. I have to learn to stand up for myself, decide for myself and speak out for me”.  I almost gave her a standing ovation.

As she reached the other side of my head, finishing the few lines left, we were both hungry. We made plans for lunch. Yes it had to be sadza and chicken, and I was to cook for her.  I could tell that she had unfinished business with me.IMG_1076

She plainly and pointed asked what my plans for the future. I knew it was not a simple conversation. We had reached that depth of trust, friendship and respect. I had to be honest enough though I was not prepared for such a question. For sure, I will continue to struggle and give my best to ending child marriage. Actually its about girls and young women growing up to be the best of who they are and want to be. I realised that I am making commitment that transcends any other public pronouncement I may have made. Yes, and I hope one day grow zumbani commercially,  this indigenous plant in my village which is treated as weed and yet has diverse use in everyday life.

After the tasty meal, I looked in the mirror and simply smiled. We laughed. I know that plaiting hair is not about fashion, it is a safe space for crucial conversation. Thank you Farirai, you have a good hand. Oh yes its true, my hair has some strands of grey.

(c) Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, 2015

03 Apr

Women Abusing Women – I Can No Longer Bite My Tongue 

I saw the Zimbabwe video and was just too angry, I lost my voice. I was bruised. Violence of any nature by anybody to anybody is unacceptable. Women stripping another woman literally, emotionally and psychologically in that video was unbelievable. That was torture and abuse.

I felt defeated, my soul was scratched. Women simply tolerate for too long a lot of indignity and ill-treatment from other women. Whatever the circumstances and the reasons, nothing justifies such abuse. I am joining the millions of voices calling for the arrest of those thugs, those abusers and the criminals.

NOTHING justifies such abusive treatment of another person.

I appeal for the sister who was tortured to approach the police, the National Complaints Desk on telephone number (04) 703631 or any nearest police station. If anyone knows the woman who was abused, please come forward. We can only fight crime by speaking out, and reporting.

Thanks to many who have taken a stand on this issue, and I urge others who have been biting their tongue like me to step up and raise the voice. This is a justice issue and a human rights issue. Many of us have often kept silent in the face of indignities by our sisters. This simply undermines the cause for which many of us fight for every day…RESPECT, rights and dignity.

I understand that the women in this video were identified and were brought to court. They were released on US$100 bail pending trial.

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