Dear Reader, Thank you for supporting the our voices project and taking the time to read this publication. Within it you will find chapters that feature submissions from artists in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Some of these women tell stories we have continually heard over the years and others bring topics not previously identified under the 12 critical areas of the Beijing declaration and POA.
You will find women telling stories inspired by personal truths and women using art to arouse deep conversation and feeling.
I really hope you enjoy it as I have enjoyed editing it.
Many thanks once again to our partners atOSISA, Urgent Action Fund Africa, Ford Foundation and Katswe Sistahood: without your support we would not have been able to breathe life into this idea and provide a platform where young women’s voice and art are celebrated. We hope to receive your continued support and that it allows this to become the first of many similar projects.
“Where is my baby? Mwanawangu aripi? Where is my baby? Where is my baby” Chipo asked frantically.
Tiny little Mudiwa gone and she didn’t know what to do. What would her husband say?
“Ndiani wamapa mwana wangu? Who did you give my child?” her eyes were full of tears as she yelled
The driver looked away and told her “Sister ma1. Everyone get back on the bus we have to go in 10 mins”
“But my baby where is my baby?” she yelled again but the bus drove away.
Chipo grew up in Budiriro 3 in Harare. She didn’t know that she was poor, because everyone around her was poor. Of course there were “those neighbours” that had relativesb with big big cars that would bring their relatives groceries all the time. She wondered why they didn’t take their family members to wherever it is that they got these big cars and endless bags of groceries. She asked her mother once and her mother told her “Chipo unotaurisa.” She was often told that she talked too much but if she had a question she had to ask. This is what made her the top student at Budiriri 3 Primary School and later on at Budiriro High school.
Chipo was not only a good student but she was what the elderly aunties called a nice girl. They would often tell her mother “endemunemwana akanaka.” This comment wasn’t about her beauty but her character as she was agreeable, helpful and she attended church enough to make her mother proud.
Chipo met Tawanda when she was 17. She had passed all her 0-levels but her parents could not afford to pay for her to finish her A levels. She was informed by her mother that she would have to find something to do or get married soon. Her mother laughed as she said it but Chipo felt as though it was not a joke.
I was asked what have our leaders taught us and are they taking us in the direction we wish to go in. What have they done to demonstrate that we are moving in the correct direction? I started thinking of an old interview with Mugabe saying that all he ever wanted was to teach his people is to be self sufficient.
I responded that our leaders taught us the value of education and that we should continue to suffer if it means that we will never be second class citizens in our country again. Now I have always been told that I am unaware of the “real situation” in Zimbabwe, the levels that people are suffering.
I have started to argue back and tell them people your only experience is of Zimbabwe I have a “global experience” and I have seen that Black people are treated as second class citizens and are the living in relative poverty everywhere we are.
When reflecting on what has “occurred” in Zimbabwe we look at it in a vacuum forgetting that struggle is not ours alone. There are others that helped us to be free and their contributions were so that all Black people would be free, not so that we could continue to be “Africa’s bread basket” while bowing down to our oppressors.
I have been hiding behind the idea that I may be taken the wrong way. I may be too extreme.
I think there is a shame that is put behind being a Communist similar to the shame that people including myself have tried to put behind Feminism. It is similar to the shame that people put behind solving racism.
Somehow the person that is being wronged becomes the one in the wrong. I am inspired by Yvette Carnell, who I found through Dr. Boyce Watkins, who in 2015 was talking about Black Businesses. He was encouraging people to invest in the stock market which at the time I thought that isn’t a bad idea. When I think about it now, why are you gambling with your limited disposable income?
Now don’t get me wrong, I agree we need things of our own but then again if I don’t want to start a business I should just get paid enough to live comfortably. I know in the West the ideology is “everyman for themselves” but how is that working for you?
I borrowed this book last summer from a co-worker and still have it. It has taken me a longer time than is polite to have someone’s book but I think any true readers can understand sometimes book reading does not go according to plan.
I finally finished it and I wanted to read this book because all through my undergrad there was a teacher that kept telling us that he did not know why our school put Plato and Aristotle on such a high horse as the Stoics were better. I was never really sure what he was talking about but I made a mental note to get to the books eventually and I guess I finally did.
I loved this book and as much as I am concerned with communities and the collective we can never forget the individuals that make up those collectives. As a person that is constantly in my mind trying to make myself better I learnt from this book. It was a reminder that the quest for success is kinda stupid its best to be a good and wise person that does not worry too much about silly things and that one must at least try to be vegetarian.
In reading the book Here I Stand by Paul Robeson I learnt that I think it is important and we need to keep our eyes on the prize. No-one is excused from the responsibility that comes with blackness. While we have had many celebrities that have helped in moving the fight forward we have to always remember that all celebrities, politicians, or political parties will not always do what is best for Black people.
Some do, some are frauds, some try in their own way usually in a manner that is not harmful to themselves as an individual. However as a marginilized community we always have to keep in mind that those that are trying to change institutional problems are also restricted by those same institutions.
Today you can think of Colin Kaepernick, he tried to do speak out against an institution but was he punished for it. I think of Zanu PF or Fidel Castro they tried to challenge the international community and their populations have suffered dearly as a result.
Stopping oppression is not the job of one person it is for all of us to do what we can, when we can and in regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in.
Here are the quotes that stood out to me in the book:
“Reed is dead now. He won no honours in classroom, pulpit or platform. Yet I remember him with love. Restless, rebellious, scoffing at conventions, defiant of the white man’s law – I’ve known many negroes like Reed. I see them everyday. Blindly, on their own reckless manner, they seek a way out for themselves; alone, they pound with their fists and fury against walls that only the shoulders of many can topple” pg 13