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I WILL speak because I have a voice

I WILL speak and scream, even, because I have a voice!

The anger felt hot, like the sting of sizzling cooking oil against naked skin. Quickly, it percolated throughout me, burning my core and making me want to shout out.

“I am entitled to my own opinion!”

Last weekend, I posted the following status update on my Facebook page: “Fungai Rufaro Machirori doesn't like men who think it's their prerogative to think for you. Surely if I was meant to have no opinion, God would have put socks in my head instead of a BRAIN! Steer clear if you subscribe to that backward mentality because I am not having it!”

A while later, one of my ‘uncles’ (actually a friend’s uncle) wrote me a long email explaining to me how offensive the tone of my post had been and how, if I continued to speak my mind like that, I would alienate all males.

Believing fully that his argument made no sense, since I was asking those very narrow-minded types of men to steer clear anyway, I chose to take it all with a pinch of salt.

But later that evening, a male friend interrogated me and asked me why I was always ‘scolding’ men. What, he asked, was I eating in the UK that was giving me so much fire to post scathing Facebook status updates?

I couldn’t believe it! What was meant to be a warning for men who I thought were far less progressive had actually held sway with these guys, men who I have always deemed to be progressive and open-minded.

And that’s when that sting of anger began to burn.

Slowly, older statements began to flow through my mind. Just the week before I had been walking home with one of my classmates who’d told me that I was essentially a sweet girl, but my only vice was that I used my voice too often.

“Why don’t you be like the other girls?” he tried to sweet-talk me as we walked through a steady stream of afternoon rain. “We [the men in my class] know they are intelligent but they don’t make a show of it talking so much in class all the time.”

I am taking a deep breath now just remembering that horrible conversation.

So because I am always keen to ask the lecturer a question or to sit in the front row of the classroom, that is somehow offensive to the guys?!

My heart bleeds. My anger softens into sadness because this all reminds me how so far off we are from granting women the same liberties as men. Instead of being active thinking critical human beings, many men would still prefer us to be wallflowers.

And so, for a day, I complied with their demand and shut my mouth up. I changed my Facebook profile picture to an image of me with my mouth written over and obscured, and told my friends that I wouldn’t be speaking for the sake of the dear and frazzled men.

The responses were overwhelming and some were oh so emotional.

One of my male friends wrote, “Fungai, I'm not sure which male friends you are referring to, but I'd rather you un-friend them than you gag yourself. Keep it coming.”

Other friends realised that this was a prank, an experiment in understanding whether or not my voice is of any relevance.
But yet others reminded me why it is I speak. One of my best friends wrote, “I hope this won’t be for long. You say things we are afraid to say. We need our voice back.”

A rush of sensations I cannot fully describe in words seeped into my chest as I read that comment.

And then another one came through. “If they don't like you they need to not listen. What you say is insightful and amazing, never edit yourself for the sake of others.”

Quickly, the anger was being replaced with renewed energy, with a sense of responsibility, with the conviction that I would continue to take the proverbial bullets and stabs to my spirit for the sake of those who would not, could not speak; for the sake of honouring my life’s true purpose.

Later that day, my father called me all the way from home in Zimbabwe. After chit-chat about the weather and other things, we zeroed in on how studies were going. He asked me, as he has done before, to keep in mind the idea of doing my PhD because in his own words, “you were born to be great.”

I don’t know if being a doctor or professor makes anyone greater than the average person, but I understood what he meant. Because he sees my potential to be more than I am, my father encourages me to harness all the possibilities and opportunities to become thus.

If my father can perceive this and appreciate it, then I don’t care what any other man says. My parents did not educate me – academically and socially - to the best of their ability to then have me acting like they did not.

Every word I speak out, every norm that I challenge is a tribute to them and in honour of the legacy that I inherit from them; in honour of my mother, the first black female editor of a Zimbabwean public newspaper.

As a little girl, I often sat in my mother’s office watching her read and re-read content, calling in journalists – male and female alike - to tell them where they were going wrong with their work and how they could improve it. I remember too how she sat in newsroom conferences, the only woman among a group of men, some of whom still felt that a woman’s hands were best served scrubbing floors than scribbling comments across pages of draft newspaper articles.

I come from such a legacy and I intend to continue it.

My World Pulse signature states, “I will speak because I have a voice.”

I claim that voice. I love that voice. I live to make that voice louder, more beautiful, more genuine, more Me.

I am Me - being and becoming. 'Me' is not a destination; it is the bus trip along the narrow tarred strip of life, gazing out the window at the different elements and learning to relate to each in my own way. I am Me - take it or leave it... But don't feel obliged to have to take Me. I am just fine being and becoming Me as I am.

Silence: The picture that I uploaded in my day of voicelessness

Comments

aimeeknight's picture

I’m so proud of you. I agree

I’m so proud of you. I agree with your father, you were born to be great. From one of my favorite quotes “there is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you, we are all meant to shine like children do”
Your gift, your light.. is your beautiful voice. You are strong and fierce and you are gentle and kind, all of your qualities shine through in your words and poetry. Thank you for sharing your gift with all of us and not allowing a few to stifle your voice.

"One shoe can change a life" ~ Cinderella

Fungai Machirori's picture

Aimee!

As my sister, as my friend, as a fellow woman with whom I share my struggles and joys, as an amazing spirit: I want you to know that I feel truly blessed to know you.

One shoe can change a life indeed...

from today i live out of my imagination
i am more than my yesterday
tomorrow i plant a new seed
nothing that lies behind easy
nothing that is ahead real
my within is all i have today
*Napo Masheane*

usha kc's picture

Dear Fungai , I admire

Dear Fungai ,
I admire your writting ,your thoughts,your strong willingness,your determination,your courage and more what you have.
your every words touch me and flicker my shadowed feeling.
always love your mentations ,,, keep it up dear.

we should speak,,speak,,, speak loudlyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!

Fungai Machirori's picture

Dear Usha

Thank you my dear sister. I write because I was born to it. I know that better than anything else in my life. And I am happy when you can sense this too and enjoy it.

Be blessed :)

from today i live out of my imagination
i am more than my yesterday
tomorrow i plant a new seed
nothing that lies behind easy
nothing that is ahead real
my within is all i have today
*Napo Masheane*

Ruth Beedle's picture

Thank you

Your voice is critical.... it isn't only a Voice of the Future.... but it is a Voice of Now. It is the Voice of Fungai.

It is the voice of truth and beauty and friendship.

It is the voice of freedom.

And we need you....

R

Fungai Machirori's picture

And I need you

Let it never be forgotten that even with a voice, there must be people with ears to perceive its sound; to guide it when it is going off tune, to add a harmony when it sounds bare.

I need you, your support, your warmth, your love, your laughter. Always :)

from today i live out of my imagination
i am more than my yesterday
tomorrow i plant a new seed
nothing that lies behind easy
nothing that is ahead real
my within is all i have today
*Napo Masheane*

Ruth Beedle's picture

And....

...you will have it always. I will see you and we will speak in person...... that is.... after we are done laughing and giggling and hugging each other!!!

Nusrat Ara's picture

Loved it Fungai. Don't stop

Loved it Fungai. Don't stop we are listening :))))

Love

Nusrat

Fungai Machirori's picture

I won't!

I won't stop ... and I am listening to you too :)

from today i live out of my imagination
i am more than my yesterday
tomorrow i plant a new seed
nothing that lies behind easy
nothing that is ahead real
my within is all i have today
*Napo Masheane*

AchiengNas's picture

Self realization

Fungai, You are who you are because you have realized what you are worth. You are helping millions take steps forward. You are an eye opener to those who long for self confidence. Go on empower the world!

Love,

Bea

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

Fungai Machirori's picture

Thanks Bea

My sister, thank you. You are an inspiring woman and I love your courage and determination. Never stop being you and doing what you were born to. Peace and lots of love :)

from today i live out of my imagination
i am more than my yesterday
tomorrow i plant a new seed
nothing that lies behind easy
nothing that is ahead real
my within is all i have today
*Napo Masheane*

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Wonderful and Proud!

You may not be my blood sister, but I count you as a sister, and am so proud to hear your voice. Keep speaking out! The world would be a sadder place if you did not.

Hugs,

Rachael

"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

Fungai Machirori's picture

Sister sister!

I claim you too as my sister, the one I am going to go with to an Oliver Mtukudzi concert one day! I can't say it enough but World Pulse is amazing. Nope, I am not stroking egos here, just stating facts. I am a better person for having done this VOF correspondence course. I really am.

from today i live out of my imagination
i am more than my yesterday
tomorrow i plant a new seed
nothing that lies behind easy
nothing that is ahead real
my within is all i have today
*Napo Masheane*

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Thank you Fungai! Next time

Thank you Fungai! Next time Tuku is in town, we have to go!

R

"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

Fungai Machirori's picture

Done deal!

Done deal Rachael! He has an accompanying musician who plays the marimba sometimes. I know you would enjoy that!

from today i live out of my imagination
i am more than my yesterday
tomorrow i plant a new seed
nothing that lies behind easy
nothing that is ahead real
my within is all i have today
*Napo Masheane*

Liz4peace's picture

Let your light shine

Hi Fungai,

Just read your post. I LOVE your voice. It reminded me of a quote from Marianne Williamson: As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others. The world needs more women like you, not fewer! Yo go girl!

Liz Fautsch in San Diego

Fungai Machirori's picture

Thanks Liz

Indeed. I realise more and more that when I speak, it is not only for my benefit but also for the benefit of those who can't. I realise that nothing is just for me, and my own sake, but for the sake of many others. And that is beautiful knowledge :)

from today i live out of my imagination
i am more than my yesterday
tomorrow i plant a new seed
nothing that lies behind easy
nothing that is ahead real
my within is all i have today
*Napo Masheane*

Fungai,

You are way ahead of time. Your piece made me smile, made me sad but your action gave me hope. You give me hope, so much hope Fungai. You are going to go places and all men must watch out because they are going to listen to you for a very long time. Your voice speaks to ME, to ALL women and I am so glad I have an opportunity to hear it. I feel so blessed to find myself reading what I go through every single day and here I am told you are a "neck" and a neck has no brain. Only a man is a head and they have a bible as their reference. It's amazing how you have created a new reality for me and the more I read, the more I realise I can depend on ME. Thank you my dear...keep on and I thank you.

R

Rudzanimbilu Muthambi

Fungai Machirori's picture

Thanks Miss Rudzie!!!!!

Thanks for the support sis wami!!!! It means a lot to me!!!! I am always aware that when someone says things that other people don't want to say, there is a possibility of being criticised and humiliated. But someone has to say it! And so be it if I must take the bullet! I WILL SPEAK. We all must!

from today i live out of my imagination
i am more than my yesterday
tomorrow i plant a new seed
nothing that lies behind easy
nothing that is ahead real
my within is all i have today
*Napo Masheane*

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