The Little Things Citizens Do
If I had a dollar for each time someone said “Zimbabweans are spineless cowards”, I would be set for life. Most foreigners I meet just about blatantly state this “fact”, so much it has become the unofficial truth among those who follow the fortunes of my country.
But then again, for an outsider looking in, it is easy to pass judgment, “what is wrong with you people?” is the question they always ask. The answer I always give is that Zimbabweans may be a lot of things, but cowards we are not.
See a little more than a decade ago Zimbabwe was an obscure teapot – shaped country in the middle of Southern Africa.
Then one day political upheaval and social strife paid a visit and it gained notoriety overnight. Then fear, intimidation, political intolerance, self-censorship, media repression, apathy, economic hardship, and widespread poverty became the story of Zimbabwe.
In the face of existing gender discrimination and inequality, the barriers for women change-makers doubled instantly. For me, the beginning of this era in the history of my country coincided with my foray into journalism. In effect, it diminished my aspirations to use my voice and bring about change in my community… however, temporarily.
But my story is not a single story and neither is it so for Zimbabwe. As the old saying goes – necessity is the mother of invention and this has never been truer where Zimbabweans are concerned. Ingenious examples are abound of how Zimbabweans lived through some of the worst episodes of fuel and food shortages, power outages, lack of running water, and essential medicines.
So like the typical Zimbabwean, I channeled my frustrations into positive transformative initiatives. Today I am a UN online volunteer. I subscribe and contribute to the Kubatana e-newsletter that informs and fosters debate on developmental issues. I blog about the struggles and successes of people who participate in the programmes that my organization implements. I facilitate trainings on effective use of media. I attend meetings, debates and workshops and contribute to various development discourses while building my network for future collaborations. Through social media, mobile technology as well as e-mailing lists, I share and receive information about opportunities, resources and funding offers locally and abroad.
PulseWire fits well into this scheme of things and will serve to enhance them further. So far it has increased one of my greatest resources – social capital, and therefore ideas. I see PulseWire enabling me to consolidate all my efforts to work together as opposed to parallel to each other and also towards a clear and achievable goal – to help others transform their socio-economic and political situations through access to information.
While it has become better, the situation in my country is not ideal. I believe that for every group that has ever faced adversity, the solution was always of their making and in their own time. And so it shall be for us. Surely my actions plus another's action will snowball into something noteworthy.
To borrow the words of the late great Wangari Maathai – “It's the little things citizens do. That's what will make the difference.”