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Insurmountable task? I think not...

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500 words are not enough for me to state my challenges. I also run the risk of leaving some of you depressed because I simply do not have solutions to some of the problems. I come from a country where human rights defenders, including myself, have for long been fighting for democratic space yet the systematic wrath of the state continues. A legacy of threats, arrests, detention, abductions and enforced disappearances, and manipulation of access to information laws is used against all those who dare speak their minds. In March 2011, I personally received email and phone threats for merely forwarding a message that suggested an Egyptian-style protest in Zimbabwe. As I write the intimidation of women who dare speak up against the social injustice that has forced many people into abject poverty, led to the disintegration of families and the deterioration of health, education and general living standards continues. The leaders of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA ) are sitting in a jail cell for leading a march in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city in observance of International Day of Peace, a day set aside by the United Nations and devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace around the world. So do I know how to overcome this barrier? All I can say is that the possibility of facing reprisals for speaking out is high, but silence is not an option. I shall continue to write, highlighting this particular challenge. Through my blog, Pulsewire and www.blacklooks.org, where I publish my stories, the global forecasting of the issues I discuss shall also increase global efforts for transformation.

I also come from a country where both rural and urban dwellers have limited access to the internet. A window of opportunity has arisen with the introduction of the mobile internet service but that service is not easily affordable. Interruptions of internet connectivity by incessant power-cuts also restrict access to internet services. Despite these challenges, I see a window of opportunity to disseminate the information I have and share my stories through social networking sites. My hope in this mode of technology as an effective medium was kindled by the recent case of Cynthia Manjoro, a female activist in Zimbabwe whose release from prison was made possible through facebook. Thousands of Zimbabweans heeded the call to visit her in prison, attend court sessions in solidarity and send petitions to relevant authorities demanding her release.

Fortunately for me, 90.2% of Zimbabweans are literate and can read and write in both English and Shona or Ndebele the two local languages. This is yet another window of opportunity for me to raise awareness, hoping that in writing my stories and getting them published in newspapers and sites such as Word-Pulse; my voice will be heard by at least half of the 90.2% literate people. Hopefully, the 45.1 % will continue sharing the stories with those who cannot access them directly.

It can be done; it has to be done, it shall be done!

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usha kc's picture

dear sis,, I can feel your

dear sis,, I can feel your challenges and I can not stay with out appriciating your courage to struggle agianst thos challenges.
diffinetely, your voice will be herd ,, as it's already have been herd!!

MaDube's picture

Thank you

Thank you Usha. These are the challenges that you face when you talk about issues that affect the image of the government and their ability to improve the lives of the people. And it makes me wonder why they are in office if they are not willing to receive criticism when they do not meet our expectations.

Stella Paul's picture

But of course!

I didn't know about the high literacy rate! That, to me, is an amazing fact, a great achievement by Zimbabwe as a country and a great boon for you whose success depends a lot on being heard. As a friend and supporter, I am extremely happy to know that your writings (always so greatly done), won't die a quiet death.

Now about challenges, yes, the very nature of your job is like driving into the obstacle headlong, bringing direct changes. There is never an easy way out, unless you use a magic wand (and here again, I feel, we are quite connected). The only way out is stay put, stay put stay put.

Long back, I was reading the interview of a cricketer (a bowler). He was telling his biggest secret to success:'ek hi jagah pe khilate raho, wo galti karega' - keep throwing the ball at the same space, at the same spot, the batsman will surely make a mistake and get out. Today it seems very relevant. Keep throwing your ball, it will definitely get you wickets.

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

MaDube's picture

Thanks Stella

Thank you for all you encouragement. I will keep throwing my ball indeed and hope I don't take it too high and get caught out or too near and get run out. You have shown a great example of how consistent good work yields results and now after all your hard work, the women of India have a voice representing them on issues of climate change.

About the literacy rate, it is one of the most pleasing statistics and it is amazing how all the economic hardships may have interrupted education and some children were forced to drop out of school but the statistics remain very encouraging. This is a recent US Department of state report on Zimbabwe http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5479.htm and these are statistics from UNICEF although the indicators reflect the situation as it was in 2008 http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/zimbabwe_statistics.html#77. Right now Zimbabwe is rated as the most literate state in Africa and we overtook Tunisia which has an 87% literacy rate.

Had we not suffered the regression of the past 11 years since 2000 and especially the economic regression since 2007/8 we would be somewhere farther than where we are right now.

From what I know, and even now, Zimbabwe beats first when it comes to nations with high literacy / educated individuals. To add, Mugabe is among the top most intelligient freedom fighters in his era. I have great regard for the Zimbabwe academics.
Dube, you may feel you do not have a solution but I have seen a lot of positive intervention from what you are doing. Writing is one of the best and most reliable medium to transmit knowledge. most of the works in this world is from people's writing and that is already a change i see you doing. And which I very much congratulate you for your energy and strength to speak out. Keep on the good work. You are doing great. The world is changing, so are we .

Stay Blessed

Zoneziwoh

Blog: http://zofem.blogspot.com/

facebook: Zoneziwoh

twitter: @ZoFem

usha kc's picture

Stella,, you pointed it, me

Stella,, you pointed it, me too wondered to see the high literacy rate!! In Nepal it will takes so long to get there!!

MaDube's picture

Dear Usha

With your work and all the profiling you are doing of the issues that affect you country, I am sure soon you will improve the situation of your people. Keep fighting. We fight for those who have not yet received the same privileges that we have and we will not stop until we have a 100% literacy rate.

Carlotta's picture

I really feel your sense of

I really feel your sense of helplessness but I'm awed by your determination. Must have taken a lot of balls to suggest an Egypt-style revolution!!! The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step and you have already started it, so soldier on, Sister!!

MaDube's picture

Carlotta dear

Someone else suggested it first. I simply forwarded the email in solidarity with the idea but I then got in trouble for it because I was the one they traced it back to. It was a nasty experience and I hope never to get any worse treatment than that, and it was scary. I may sound brave but the truth is the prospect of being in a Prison like the Chikurubi scares me to death. But this is my life, I chose life as a human rights defender and so that comes with this risk. I pray for the best and hope to never be a victim to the terrible experiences that Cynthia Manjoro, Jestina Mukoko, Grace Kwinjeh and Gertrude Hambira and all the other victims have gone through.

Carlotta's picture

I saw Jestina Mukoko on TV

I saw Jestina Mukoko on TV sometime back as she was being released from prison. I'm getting goose bumps right now just thinking of how gaunt and disheveled she looked - all because she spoke what she believed in. but you are safe here, I hope. You know how 'they' like infiltrating all platforms!!

faridaY's picture

Courage

your courage and determination are inspiring.

MaDube's picture

Thanks dear sister.

Thanks dear sister.

Nezed's picture

Its only the strong that can

Its only the strong that can attempt to do what you have done so far and i salute your courage and strength. Keep it up and the world is awaiting you...

I do not aim for Perfection; Just excellence!

MaDube's picture

I do not claim to be a

I do not claim to be a revolutionary, no. But should there be one in Zimbabwe, I will support it. What I can do now is work with what I have, fight for changes in laws that silence the voices of women, fight against systems and practices especially sexual violence that has forced women to abstain from participating in politics out of fear and hope for change.

Monica Clarke's picture

Silence is not an option

Absolutely not! Keep speaking your truth. I send you lots of courage. Love from Monica

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

MaDube's picture

Thank you my dear sister. You

Thank you my dear sister. You stood the terrible times of apartheid and several other personal battles and I draw much inspiration from you. Thank you

Okeny-Lucia's picture

I thought so too

Thank You my sister,I had the same challenge with minmal words,Anyway African countries have continued to languish in darkness,for the greed of leaders ,nepotism,name it.Your problem is ours too,there is no fighting but ,the real war goes on in terms inequality to almost everything.
Good weekend

Lucia Buyanza
Reproductive Health

MaDube's picture

Some people have asked me

Some people have asked me whether I equate democracy to social justice and I have said yes because what would be democracy without access to food, water, housing, clothing and what would all these things mean without the freedom to enjoy them or to speak out when they are taken from you for no reason. I believe to the extent that we all call for democracy and social justice we are all marginalised, moreso because as women this topic is taboo and we should be content to let the men speak for us.

Rita Raj's picture

Resource limitations

The clarity with which you see yourself and your work and the active role of women in the fight for justice is strong in your message. Our mobile services is being actively promoted, but our literacy level is so low. We need voice messaging!

MaDube's picture

I understand where you are

I understand where you are coming from, reaching communities that can neither read nor write has to be done through either audio or visual media so yes voice messaging is an option and video is yet another option. You just gave me an idea that is so useful; using voice messaging. It will help reach the 9,8 % who are illiterate in my country. Thank you Rita.

zacyrus's picture

Together, we win

I read many articles about your country. I feel that you work so hard. Your challenges need many courages so I support you in this fight.
riana

MaDube's picture

Thank you dear

Zimbabweans are generally hardworking and resourceful people. Which is why it breaks my heart when I see their efforts being crashed by a government that should help them. I do not know if you ever read about Operation Murambatsvina where the government destroyed homes and businesses claiming to be getting rid of any structures that were not built according to the law. This was in 2006. Many people lost their businesses and homes. In 2008 because of the food shortages people grew maize(corn) in the urban areas in open areas not owned by anyone. This maize was destroyed just when it was about to ripen because the government said these areas were not farming areas. People who own market stalls in municipal markets are constantly harassed and forced to attend political meetings of the former ruling party preventing them from selling their goods for hours. I witnessed one such meeting in April this year. So you have people that try to make their lives better but their own leaders frustrate these efforts. It breaks my heart.

Akech's picture

Thank you for writing such a

Thank you for writing such a wonderful piece. Keep on the good work, and by the way, do not fear they who can kill the body but not the spirit. I admire your courage and extensive zeal.

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.

Akech's picture

Keep on with the good work. I

Keep on with the good work. I can imagine the risks you are going through, all the same, we still need you alive. Whatever you do, think twice and reason out the impact it will have on others :). We live in a world where speaking up for what is right is dangerous than lying. How sad? I am really encouraged by your article Madube!

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.

MaDube's picture

Thank you

Thank you Monica. I remember some of my friends asking me, why are you doing this when it clearly is not paying you enough to even buy a car. But try explaining that this is more than just a job, very few people will understand. I am inspired by your support and encouragement. Thank you.

Adepeju's picture

Keep up the activist spirit

Keep up the activist spirit girl! someday soon, the change we so desire will come. Most African government are corrupt in nature and are generally intolerant of opposition.

MaDube's picture

Thank you

Thank you dear. What I am trying to portray is that the perception of women as marginalised individuals within the political sphere and decision making processes has been taken over by pretences that creating quota systems will solve everything. The issues that prevent women from wanting to be involved either as political figures, human rights defenders and activists are still happening and as you know the use of rape to silence women has become even more pronounced in today's political fights and it is what I am here to talk about.

amiesissoho's picture

500 words assignment is a teaser

Your ability to express realities is admired. Fear of being jailed, isolated from families and many more are strong feelings that keep people suppressed people silence. It was a big challenge to complete my assignment and post it because there was no electricity at the time I wanted to do it. You may notice that I'm on the computer at very odd time from 3 AM because people are sleeping. I had to leave my light switched on so that when the power was on I would be aware. I had to force myself to wake up to be on pulsewire, post my assignment and read as much as possible the wonderful posts. Keep courage!

Amie

MaDube's picture

They are the realities of the

They are the realities of the world that we live in today and more and more women are being marginalised by this intimidation at a time when we thought we were making great strides in asserting ourselves in the public sphere. I know all about electricity cuts. In Zimbabwe it is pretty much the same. Right now I am finding it much easier because I am in Egypt and their electricity is very reliable.

gingerhooper's picture

Speak Up and Out

Hi sister!
One of my dear friends is from Zimbabwe and is now in UK because she spoke out too publicly and had to flee. I will add now that she still speaks out and longs for the day she will be safe to return home. She, like you, does not see silence as an option.
The travesty is that the atrocities that occur in Zimbabwe often fall off the map at the moment as the solution is hard to find....
I think the fact there are so many literate people does give you that hope though and I want to encourage you to keep the silence at bay! Your voice is a brave one and I for one am glad you are using it.
Love and light - Laura

MaDube's picture

Hey Laura

I am sorry for taking such a long time to respond. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with work. Between my internship, running my blog and other initiatives and keeping abreast with news and events on pulsewire I may respond late. I was watching one of the presentation by Grace Kwinjeh to the UN Watch on the sidelines of the Human Rights Council. She is one of the Zimbabwean women now living in the UK and she fled after being tortured. Is she the friend you are talking about or someone else?

But to get back to your response, yes we can not afford to keep quiet otherwise we would have failed all the people who have already lost so much to the struggle hoping that someone else would carry it through.

Thanks for your comment.

Osai's picture

We support you

Hello,

We support you and encourage you. Zim would one day be the country we all desire and expect it to be. Especially as women human rights defenders (WHRD) your voice can easily disappear as you fight other battles but yes it can indeed be done...we will all refuse to be silent.

Best wishes,
Osai

Twitter: @livingtruely

MaDube's picture

Thank you so much dear. I can

Thank you so much dear. I can see you are familiar with our endearing abbreviation of our country's name, Zim. It brought a smile to my face :-). Thank you for your support and I believe with your support, Zim shall be the country that the whole of Africa and the world wants it to be.

fem4femmes's picture

Daring voice...

Dear MaDube-

I read your words and I am filled with pride! Pride at the courage and dignity and resolve inherent in the amazing women of the world! Your description of the barriers faced by Human Rights Defenders is piercingly clear and I honor the resonance of your voice! Thank you for your courageous voice and for all the hope and change that it is bringing into the world!!

Much joyful clammoring for you today!!

marissa

"I am the flicker, flame, butterfly ablaze who wants to fly in search of mythical rainbows beyond the rain." ~ Ana Castillo

MaDube's picture

Thank you dear. I also draw

Thank you dear. I also draw courage from your support. A fellow Zimbabwean, Maggs in her pulsewire journal, said "Surely my actions plus another's action will snowball into something no.teworthy." So together our voices can grow into a formidable movement that is impossible to ignore. Thank you for your support.

cmphung's picture

Power of words

I applaud your courage to stand up and push for change in your country even amongst the clamp on your human rights. There is power in words and the high literacy rate in Zimbabwe is amazing and the avenue for you to push for change. You remind not to take advantage of the power to read and write.

Continue your fight.

In solidatrity,
Charlene

Charlene Phung MPH

MaDube's picture

Thank you

Thank you Charlene. I am also very happy about the literacy rates in my country and it is one of those things I commend my government for doing right because these statistics were achieved mostly since 1980 when Zimbabwe got its independence from the British. They have done a wonderful job in making us a conscious society which is why I fail to understand why they want to suppress that consciousness now.

ck's picture

strength

Hi MaDube,

Your essay exudes personal strength, just what you need to continue confronting the enormous challenges you describe in your essay. Actually it is not depressing. Hearing a strong voice that will continue to advocate for basic human rights is a joy, even if the path is steep.

Good job. Look forward to hearing more from you.

ck

ck

MaDube's picture

Thank you CK. I am deeply

Thank you CK. I am deeply encouraged by your support. :-)

bmcqueen's picture

A bitter pill

The harsh reality of life in your country is extremely depressing. However, your country’s literacy growth and the women who risk so much when speaking out against the ills of your society is extremely inspiring. I will pray for your success, and I will also continually remind myself of the mountains you must climb when my molehills seem to be too much. Good luck in all your endeavors.

MaDube's picture

Thank you so much my dear.

Thank you so much my dear. Sometimes the state of things in my country does depress me too, but then again I think to myself if allow myself to wallow in self-pity and misery and do not do anything about it then I stand to lose more than picking up the pieces and finding ways of dealing with it. But thank you for your support.

bmcqueen's picture

Push on

You have exactly the attitude you need. The world needs more people like you.

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