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The Little Things Citizens Do

Make a difference

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.”

Turn words into action



YAOtieno's picture


I"Surely my actions plus another's action will snowball into something noteworthy"

. like the sense of responsibity in the use of the words MY actions...


A candle looses nothing my lighting another

Maggs's picture

We need to own it sister.

We need to own it sister. History will judge us well.

keep sharing and shining that light


MaDube's picture

We are peaceful not cowards

I have often met people who say exactly the same thing. And I wonder what they are trying to tell us, that we should assault those who assault us, burn the houses of those who burn ours and rape the wives and children of those who rape ours. Simply because the majority of Zimbabweans choose not to respond violently to the violence of a minority does not make us cowards. Thanks Maggs for pointing this out.

Maggs's picture

fellow Zimbo

You so get it. Of course you do...frustrating ain't it?


Rahel Weldeab's picture

Social capital is key!

WOW! Very interesting post! I was a little taken back by your opening comment about Zimbabweans being spineless cowards. I never heard anybody say that before, and I couldn't imagine why somebody would think that. I'm under the impression that Zimbabweans are very brave to have taken bold moves to take their country back from neo-colonizers. Still, your post is fabulous! I think it is awesome that you are involved in so many ways, especially as a volunteer. Investing in SOCIAL CAPITAL IS KEY, especially when it comes to citizens volunteering their time to develop their communities. You ending your post with the great Wangari Maathai is priceless! She put it perfectly, may she rest in peace!

Thank you for such a descriptive and informative piece. While some foreigners know of the challenges and deprivations your country has faced, there are so many that do not. Your voice is a wonderful tool to help better educate the world on Zimbabwe. Media, books and the such cannot tell the story of people on the ground. Please keep blogging and providing the world with your insights! They will help everyone get a better idea of what they can do to address the status of women and inequalities.

Again - wonderful article!

Peace, Denise

“Women have a special capacity to lead us to a more peaceful world with compassion, affection and kindness. And there is no more important time for that than this moment.” - Dalai Lama

Maggs's picture

So true

The only way we can change the way some of the world perceives us is by telling our story ourself. Never leave it to the money spinning conglomerates.


Susan Studebaker's picture

Week 3 writing assignment

I am impressed by the many ways you are already communicating with people and how you see PulseWire fixing into what you do. Keep writing, blogging, talking-- I believe that you can bring about positive change!


meena-megha's picture


Your article has tremendous strength. Strength from you and strength for others. You have highlighted the power of the individual to bring about positive change in the most moving and inspiring way. Cngratulations and all best wishes to cary on the amazing work you are doing.

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