Insurmountable task? I think not...
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!