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 Disapprove of What You Say, But I Will Defend to the Death Your Right to Say It” Evelyn Beatrice Hall
We all disagree this we know but letting others think what they want this we don’t seem to be able to do.
We always have to comment wonder how to try convince others of our vision, our religion or to our political party.
Life has brought us all to this exact position so you may never be able to reason with others to bring them to your side.
Use of violence to convince never works not only because you are now allowing yourself to have violence used to have your mind changed but also because all it does is build resentment not true conversion.
Violence will make people agree with you for the moment but real and true discourse will allow you to not only change the mind of that person but their husband, their children, their friends and maybe even others in their communities.