Sometimes, I just need to bark
When I was doing my undergrad a few years ago, one of my lecturers shared a little story to help my class appreciate the value of freedom of expression. That little story aptly captures my personal vision for the world and it goes like this: There were two dogs staying in neighbouring countries A and B. The dogs were of the same breed and had become close friends over the years, but neither could cross the tall fence between them to be with the other. The dog in country A had a shiny mangy fur and was fat to the point of being a little overweight. Its government provided it with meat and milk as part of its daily menu, so long as it did not complain about anything else. It seemed to have the ideal life. The dog in country B on the other hand was like a shadow of itself, emaciated almost to the point of starvation. Country B was too poor to feed it. Dog B envied Dog A so much that it was surprised one day to find the latter had sneaked into country B. “Why would you even opt to come and starve this side, leaving all that wealth and food in your country?” Dog B asked. Dog A replied, “You know, we have everything else that side. But, I want to be this side because sometimes I just need to bark. “
I should one day like to see my country and indeed a world that tolerates freedom of expression, precisely not because this is how we scribes make a living, but because it is the denial of this exact right that negatively impacts on the capacity of my country’s youth to participate meaningfully in democratic processes. Youth are a vital cog in the development of a nation, and their lack of participation in such critical processes like constitution consultations and exercising their vote because of fear of victimization will have long standing consequences for the country’s future democracy.
I believe that by sharing and learning from the experiences of others, as a correspondent I would be able to bring those experiences into the local context. The world has become a global village, and technology presents us unending opportunities to engage others like ourselves that would give us the courage to tackle the obligation we have to contribute to the rebuilding our country. For fear of victimization, the people of my country have taken comfort in a culture of passivity in the face of growing repression, collapsing public service, escalating youth unemployment and an education that is increasingly going beyond the reach of the majority. I believe that the internet provides contemporary spaces that youth in Zimbabwe may manipulate for self expression. Being a correspondent would help develop the critical link with the world and create alternative platforms at which to share ideas but also obtain guidance from individuals who have lived experiences. As activists, sometimes the power at our disposal; that we are even able to manipulate is active engagement through self expression. Support from peers through World Pulse I believe exists to make this possible, to give a voice to the voiceless, and amplify the stifled voices of those who have. The youth in my country sometimes need to bark, and World Pulse provides that space.