Moving on! Let Go! Move Forward!!

Very annoying and irritating isn’t it. Especially when it’s not yet time to hear the words!

One of my most admired and respected Pastor, Joel Osteen in his book Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential said “You must make a decision that you are going to move on. It won’t happen automatically. You will have to rise up and say, ‘I don’t care how hard this is, I don’t care how disappointed I am, I’m not going to let this get the best of me. I’m moving on with my life.”

Since August this year I have been filled with anger and sometimes disappointment. The long political discussions were no longer inspiring or convincing. I had invested a lot and hoped for the good to come out of July, 31 Harmonized election. Yet the outcome was unexpected but almost anticipated at the same time. Sadly the outcome and the events that followed pointed to the fact that there is still a long way to go as far as Zimbabwe’s democratization is concerned. I must admit, I saw a bleak and compromised future (especially for my son). I could not imagine investing another year speaking to the same issues and fighting the same battles.

Today as my son’s animated ‘good morning’ reluctantly woke me up, I remembered that four months ago I barely could have a coherent conversation with him. Time waits for no man indeed! Its time! I don’t care how disappointed I am and I don’t care if things are not going to change in this country. However from this moment, I am going to fight and live my life every day. I’m going to do the best I can and face the future filled with so much uncertainty. From this moment I’m going to embrace the beauty of moving on, anticipate the uncertainty of tomorrow with the wisdom of the past.  I’m letting lose and moving forward

Letting go

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My hope for a Feya Feya Zimbabwe

So I decided to share my journal with my two year old son. I imagined it would help sharpen his creative and expressive prowess (fingers crossed).

At the end of the day I reluctantly ‘donated’ the journal to him because he appeared to have somehow convinced himself that it was his (so much for sharing).

So I found myself thinking that my son’s un-Feya Feya behaviour was pretty similar to what has been obtaining in our media, politics, social space and even our pockets.

My son who doesn't believe in sharing

My son who doesn’t believe in sharing

Having recently caught the ‘Feya Feya fever’ that has gripped town (if you are not part of it Walala wasala – you’re getting left behind) campaigning for free and fair elections; I am somewhat obsessing over the notion of fairness.

Obsession being the key word.

Feya Feya is like a fever, a bug, highly contagious and is moving at a breakneck speed.

Feya Feya …. is a colloquial term for “Fair Fair”. The phrase is a corruption of the English term, meaning in accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate and just or appropriate in the circumstances.

The Feya Feya campaign is aimed at promoting peaceful, free and fair elections in Zimbabwe in which the will of the people is respected!

I bought into the Feya Feya campaign because it resonates with me. I believe that at its core, the Feya Feya campaign is about upholding the sanctity of the ballot and protecting the will of the people as expressed through the ballot.

 

Berea catches Feya Feya fever

Berea catches Feya Feya fever

 

I am taking part in the Feya Feya campaign because, like many Zimbabweans, I’m tired of being taken for granted and of the national stagnation.

For more than a decade we endured the fuel and bread queues and we helplessly watched our country’s fall from grace.

Over the years, some have sought refuge in neighbors’ homes, while others fell victim to political violence and a few remained hopeful that Zimbabwe shall rise from the ashes.

I want a Feya Feya election because I think it is fundamental to the fruition of my aspirations.

 

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I want a Feya Feya Zimbabwe where my voice is heard and respected. I want to live in a Feya Feya Zimbabwe where my dissenting views are tolerated, listened to and respected.

I want a Feya Feya Zimbabwe where the pains of my labour shall bear fruits and where my effort is justly rewarded.

My heart aches for my disenfranchised relatives and friends who are in the Diaspora and who often echo the proverbial Shona sentiment, “Kusina amai hakuendwe” (loosely translated to mean that one’s home always best).

I am campaigning for a Feya Feya Zimbabwe where violence is shunned, criminalized and condemned in the strongest of terms…a Zimbabwe where electoral choices are made without fear of victimization or disfranchisement.

I envision a Feya Feya Zimbabwe whose representatives in Parliament, leaders in Government respect and adhere to the oath of office. Whose dedication is to take Zimbabwe to greater heights.

My Feya Feya Zimbabwe shall rise against the odds and reclaim its former glory.

Like a mother who nurtures and protects the fruits of her womb even in hardship, I remain hopeful for a Feya Feya Zimbabwe.

Life experiences and lessons ! Critical lessons

Recently I got involved in abounding controversies which left me shocked, depressed, angry, violated and sad.  I still can’t get over the fact that people find it hard to believe that I am an independent person with an independent mind. I am allowed to and can hold different views from those of my friends and husband.  Of course, these are the people who are very close to me and sometimes I might be sympathetic but not always in agreement or support. 

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“The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.”
― William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Seething with anger, I decided to seek refuge in a sympathetic ear and a pair of comforting hands. I slowly narrated my ordeal and expressed how I felt violated, frustrated and wronged. My revered confidant and trusted advisor stood with her back straight, head tilted backwards and swayed sideways like a peacock. She moved closer and fixed her eyes to my fidgeting leg (a habit I acquired synonymous to anger or anxiety).  To my amusement, she suddenly broke into a violent loud laughter. She made snorting sounds trying to stifle the chuckles.

I had wasted a good 30 minutes unburdening myself to a lunatic, I thought.

“I have known you for 16 years, three months and haven’t you learnt anything in this world and life Memory Pamella Kadau?” she asked dramatically banging her hand on the table.

Well, I was too angry and confused to respond to her cold psychopathic behavior.

She paused another absurd question “So what have you learnt from this experience? For all we know you don’t own the world neither does anyone we know!”

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Summer summer…the beauty of life

I was angry, in pain and didn’t want to understand anyone. I wanted to be understood, I wanted to share my pain, and I wanted to be listened to! I had taken a lot of bullets and bottled enough emotions. The incident was the breaking point. I remember revealing to my dear friends how I sometimes find myself gasping for air, fighting the urge to run or scream. How I sometimes feel crippled and can’t do anything about my drive, my sole purpose slipping slowly from my firm grasp. It is as if my internal campus has malfunctioned and my spirit has given up. We talked about the possibilities of depression and seeking professional help.

My inner African conscience rebelled! The thought of spilling my guts to a total stranger was absurd. I ended up doing it and also talking to a few friends just to escape the scary and crippling experience. Honestly it didn’t seem to help much. Nobody seemed to understand!

Even though I didn’t know where to start I decided to seek for a solution and spiritual revival from God.  As always HE is faithful…..I suddenly remembered the wisdom of my literature teacher, God Bless his soul, that in each experience there is a lesson. He always bellowed the remarks of Ralph Waldo Emerson in class that “Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”

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“The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre

Among so many things my friends are always right about is that I don’t own the world neither do they! Without these life experiences how I am I going to understand life itself? One might call it delusional faith, an escape, a human’s ability to distract him/herself from the naked truth in front of them. My recent experience has expanded my understanding of the unjust and evil around us. It explained the manipulation human beings are willing to do for survival. It explained the ability of a human being to mutate into what they always despise or fight against. My experience has helped me to find purpose, to make what is wrong right, fight against  evil! I have come to cherish my dear friends and family. These men and women are my world. Without hesitation they always help me find my way back.

 I am privileged and  I have learnt……:

  1. 1.      Believe in God only always
  2. 2.      Never fight other people’s battles
  3. 3.      Never hold grudges for too long
  4. 4.      Make an effort to understand those that you are not always in agreement with
  5. 5.      Forgive always no matter what
  6. 6.      Never act under emotion
  7. 7.      Speak the truth
  8. 8.      Ask for forgiveness and always forgive
  9. 9.      Cry if you feel like it
  10. 10.  Find common ground
  11. 11.  If you can’t do something about it ……Get over it
  12. 12.  Failure to be understood is sometimes because of ignorance
  13. 13.  The Lord didn’t take me this far to forsake me!

 

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” 
― C.G. Jung

Beware of gifts bearing strangers

My GoGo (grandmother) visited last week and I was surprised by her consciousness on the goings-on in the country’s political landscape. We spoke at length about family, the harvest and the usual gossip doing the rounds in the village. When we shifted the discussion to politics, I listened, amused by her prowess to wittily analyse what’s happening around her.

 I shifted the discussion to the new constitution which she referred to as fate accomplished. To my deference she reverted back to the issue of elections, with a recalcitrant tone and dismissed the familiar faces who are set to run for office. GoGo fretted over the perennial meetings which have suddenly mushroomed in every village, every well, church meeting, funeral and even during burial society meetings in Muzanenhamo Kraal situated in Guruve. GoGo frowned and shunned the truck loads of tennis shoes, bags of mealie meal,  panties and bicycles which some of the potential candidates were distributing for free. She called them perishables, valid only at election time. GoGo wanted to make a point and she did!

For a moment I thought age was catching up with her and her ranting was a clear indication that she was losing it! How can she refuse free goods, especially in this US dollar era where everything is so dear? It suddenly rang bell that elections are around the corner. It’s campaign and election time

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To her defense, GoGo reminded me of the proverbial saying ‘Beware of the Greeks bearing gifts’ which is in reference to the ancient Greek deception story of the wooden horse of Trojan used by the Greeks (Danaans) as a gift to trick their way into the city and later destroy their enemies. The Trojans were the greatest soldiers of their time and had won many battles. But in their naivety they welcomed the gift of Odysseus and took it within their walls with the assumption that it was a peace offering. The wooden horse was filled with armed soldiers who later opened the gates of Troy. The legendary Trojans lost the war in their own city because they forgot that they were at war!

 

Beware_of_Greeks_bearing_gifts- Troy

 

In true Greek fashion Zimbabwe’s politicians have mastered the artistry of manipulation and persuasiveness to lure the unsuspecting electorate.  During election time it has become the norm that those running for political office come bearing gifts and promises of change and development which are never fulfilled. Promises of indigenisation, empowerment, free education, riches and employment are echoing in the corridors of manifestos these days .

As the country waits for the proclamation of election dates politicians are already going from ward to ward bearing gifts and promises that if you vote them into power, your life will completely be transformed. That school, that road, that clinic, that shopping center would no longer be a pipeline dream but is an X away. To no surprise when the charm fails to work, as in case of my GoGo, they resort to violence and intimidation!

After elections they vanish into thin air. We don’t know where these honorable men and women spend their time (perhaps Malaysia or China) because even after five years in office some have never moved any motion or spoken any word in the House of Assembly.   They are not averse to such incompetence and hold no remorse over the sitting allowances and development funds they are collecting on behalf of people like my GoGo. They make a mockery out of the responsibility to represent bestowed upon them by their constituencies.

 

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The constitutional referendum has come and gone. I’m glad that we have managed to conclude the process peacefully. However, reports of intimidation and political violence including arrest of rights activists and political party leaders abound amid the rhetorical peace calls coming from the politicians. 

I hope the referendum’s outcome and recent partisan actions by the police and the courts has taught the democratic forces and Zimbabweans a fundamental lesson. Now is the time to bury the differences and consolidate efforts for a greater purpose. I recognize and appreciate the role SADC, AU and the international community play in resolving the Zimbabwean crisis. However I believe, more than ever, that the power to change lies within Zimbabweans themselves.

There is general consensus among Zimbabweans and the regional and international community that the next elections, if held under a conducive environment will usher Zimbabwe to an era of economic restoration and democratic consolidation. If not, the outcome of the election is likely to be contested and will possibly plunge the country into the dark and violent era which we all witnessed in disgust in June 2008.

 

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It is our duty and responsibility to find our voices and exercise the power we wield. Inevitably, we shall decide our own fate. The Arab springs taught us the power of the people. For when we have purpose, we also discover our joy factor, sense of profound happiness, fulfillment meaning and empowerment that helps us unleash our best thoughts, emotions and actions. At the end of the day some of these whack leaders are in place because of the choices we made or never made. Beware of the stranger bearing gifts!

From the cradle to the grave: A Litany of Violence

From the cradle to the grave: A Litany of Violence

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When I was 13, I always questioned the practice and understanding that I had to wake up early in the morning, clean the house, cook and ensure that the boys were well fed and have clean clothes.  I remember we had nasty fights about why the boys slept while the girls shared the chores. At some point I accepted it and concluded that I wasn’t going to win the battle since no one supported me. They just thought I was mad and Dad was convinced it was the bad influence from the television (which he later restricted to afternoons during the week only).

After university the issue came knocking at my door again. I was then determined to be myself, to challenge the ‘girl and boy’ socialisation process. I had concluded that we are all the same and should be treated the same.

Unfortunately experience and stories around me shook my determination and made me question my belief again. I realised the story of a woman was different perhaps that is what society wants it to be. Obstetricians agree that the passage of the foetus from the womb to the outside world is an extremely stressful and even traumatic event for the child. In fact Sigmund Freud posits that in this process lies the origin of all anxiety that is they go through this strain to hopefully live a happy life outside. For the girl child this is usually the beginning of a cycle of pain that only ends at death. It signals the beginning of an existence littered with prejudice, discrimination, deprivation and physical abuse from which some, if not most, are only released at the other end in death….” Such a gloomy picture they    paint??

Somewhere in the world ……..Sharp rebukes and sounds of resistance are heard from a distance. Moaning sounds of a 13 year old girl increasingly grow louder. She is scared but fights tooth and nail. She is overpowered and held down on the cold concrete, two women pinning her legs far apart while an elderly woman cuts the clitoris.

The three women in the room know the fear, the pain and the anger but cannot utter a word or share some advice of the journey that lies ahead of the wounded young girl. To them, theirs are fortified memories never to be remembered.

Somewhere in the world a girl aged 9 is prepared to be married off to a middle aged man. She is told to love and honour him because he is now her husband. She has to have sex with him, bear him children at the age of 13. It is the path chosen for her, where innocence and childhood is just a dream….. Perhaps only for the male child.

Somewhere close home, maybe in Harare a 34 year old married lawyer asks her husband to help with domestics chores while she cooks and attends to their four months old baby. She is beaten to a pulp with booted feet and clenched fist by her husband. She is threatened with death and called all sorts of names for asking the revered prominent lawyer in the Attorney’s Generals Office to wash dishes! She has to report sick to work the next day.

Cartoons on gender

These are only a few examples of violence that women and girls suffer every day around the world in the name of culture and tradition.  The manifestation of violence is prevalent in every segment of every society, regardless of ethnicity, race, culture, age, class or country.

These women suffer all forms of violence from the cradle to the grave. Yet we all agree that these are the forms of abuse that we should openly talk about, campaign against but are deeply embedded in our culture and almost invisible.

So my friend had a baby boy and I called the husband in excitement and showered my blessings over the phone before I asked the name and gender of the child. I was left mortified and seething with anger at the same time. “It’s a boy and it’s the only proper way to procreate. Only real men like me give birth to male children. This is evidence that I don’t fire blanks” Oh yes he did (it was in Shona and crude).  This is a man who also has two daughters. I was left thinking does he think or treat his two daughters any less than the newly born chief, his lordship and the other guy with a penis in the house?  Perhaps not but such thinking!

This is a mind-set that some girls have to fight from the cradle to the grave. It is litany of violence in different forms ranging from sexual, verbal and physical. My argument has always been that culture is not divinely created, it is actually man-made.  It is deeply entrenched and parents continue to perpetuate some of these oppressive practices when they socialise their children into the world. Social constructionists go on to argue that gender differences are influenced by social and cultural processes and sex plays a limited role. The statement by Simone de Beauvoir, ‘Women and men are made, not born’ contends that a person acquires the identity of a man or a woman by means of social processes.

Perhaps that is why some of these violations and traditional practices are perpetuated by women. The challenge is that men and sometimes women hide behind culture and tradition as an excuse to impinge on the rights of girls and women. They are shrouded in mystery and if one dares to challenge the status quo, one has to be prepared for the wrath of society and crude names that come with such audacity.

Charlotte Bunch concludes that violence against women and girls is the most pervasive violation of human rights in the world today. Its forms are both subtle and blatant and its impact on development profound. But it is so deeply embedded in cultures around the world that it is almost invisible. Yet this brutality is not inevitable. Once recognized for what it is—a construct of power and a means of maintaining the status quo—it can be dismantled.

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‘Feels and sounds’ good only on paper

Recently I had an opportunity to discuss issues of governance and democracy with a group of woman in Warren Park (Harare). As I listened more and more closely I was impressed with the level of clarity and understanding they posed on issues of gender justice. These women know what they want and might have some advice for our dear leaders.
The signing of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) ushered in a new political dispensation and ignited hope towards the realisation of gender justice in Zimbabwe. It marked the end of political violence and established relative peace in communities across the country. The GPA commendably recognises non-discrimination and respect of all persons regardless of gender. Article XX of the GPA puts in place measures of ensuring gender equality in the appointment of women in decision making positions in Zimbabwe.
As the Inclusive government enters into the third year more is yet to be seen in terms of government sincerity and political will in ensuring that women have a fair share of the cake and occupy those strategic positions of influence. The signing of the GPA in 2008 presumably should have been followed by democratic institution building, meaningful participation of women in all structures of society and addressing root causes of conflict which left many women raped and painful memories engraved in their souls. When violence receded women assumed the position of head of household and also shouldering the responsibility of taking care of the maimed, wounded and orphaned. Furthermore the slow economic growth coupled by the collapse of the service delivery system has not made easy for women.

Over the years the government of Zimbabwe have seen number laws and policies that are meant to protect the rights of women and promote gender equality and equity but have not translated to practical actions. Galvanized by the Beijing platform a surge of action arose in many countries including Zimbabwe. There was improvement of the legal framework for women’s struggle to attain equal rights and the strengthening of women’s movement in country. The Government of Zimbabwe has shown commitment in achieving gender equality through the signing and ratification of a number of regional and international conventions and protocols that aim to promote the rights of women and to achieve gender parity. These conventions include Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Convention on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR). Furthermore the passing onto law of the Domestic Violence Act, the Sexual Offences Act, and Legal Age of Majority Act by the government is commendable.
Despite having these laws in operation and the GPA we begin to question are these well authored and structured documents only feels and sounds good on paper only? Do their implementation cascade to the ordinary woman in Bikita who needs to feed six children, send them to school and access ARV at a local hospital without being buried by these responsibilities.
In terms of occupation of decision making positions women are left with face powder positions and access to resources remained to limited to a few. Women still face the brunt of the collapsed service delivery system, political violence and related rape while perpetrators are not yet brought to book. Many of the conventions and laws indicated above have been poorly implemented characterised by lack of capacity, inadequate budget allocations and the sincerity of all parties in the government to address the gender imbalances.
Women in Zimbabwe constitute 52 percent of the population and continue to be a disadvantaged group in society. There are 54 women out of 210 parliamentarians in the House of Assembly and 38 women councillors out of 1209. According to Zimbabwe Women Resource Centre Network participation of women in political decision making positions in 2000-2005 was 25 % and decreased to 20% in 2009 after the formation of the inclusive government. In an article in The Herald in February 2012 ZWRCN also argues that the gains that women had accrued so far have been reversed by the socio-economic and political crises the country has been grappling with for more than a decade now.
“The economic hardships that characterise Zimbabwe in the last decade have impacted negatively on the national prioritisation of gender issues, women economic empowerment and freedom of choice and implementation of national gender strategies. Some of the gains of women empowerment and gender equality have therefore been reversed.”
As the call for elections become increasingly louder it is imperative for the wielders of power to create mechanisms which incorporates the various voices of women because sustainable development can only take place when women also have political space to contribute to the process of national development. Development is attainable when the beneficiaries are involved in policy or decision making either in government or private sector.
Women are a cog of the struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe. It is time for the inclusive government of Zimbabwe to walk the talk and ensuring laws and policies that seek to address the gender imbalances are not only good on paper. The government should allocate adequate resources and move towards addressing the structuring gender inequalities that are rooted in our socio-economic, political and cultural spheres. A challenge to all the women is to ensure that in the next elections they are equally represented and their voices are also heard at every table.

Zimbabwe’s warped judicial system: The plight of a young mother

What are the odds that you cannot celebrate your birthday and will miss your son’s birthday for reasons that can never be accepted and you can never come to terms with? Behind the compound style dormitories fenced with 3 meters high iron fence, surrounded by gun and button wielding officers clad in army green attire who have no respect for privacy, is a story of an innocent mother. Only thoughts, imaginations and hope that freedom will come one day keeps her sane.

Seven years ago I was 450 kilometres from home/family and friends. I was lonely and lost in a foreign city. I met a young woman, Cynthia Fungai Manjoro filled with love, full of life, patient, and loving. We hit it off from the start, more like partners in crime. She was exactly what I prayed for, a girl’s best friend. The long walks from the club were no longer lonely and the word heartbreak had a new definition in her vocabulary and easier to face.

Cynthy sees the good in everyone, the total opposite of me. She is afraid of rats, dogs and I can’t see her capable of hurting anyone, moreso, KILLING a police officer! I swear that woman can’t even win a boxing match with her three year old son.

She has been locked up for five months for a crime she didn’t commit. Her only crime is lending her car to a boyfriend which was seen at the scene of the accident. Police have no evidence that she was at the scene of the accident. She has more than one alibi who can swear under oath that she was in their company at the time the crime was committed.

My point is despite the frustration and anger of being locked up for a crime that she didn’t commit, Cynthy can only imagine the smile that was on her son’s David face at his birthday when he opened his presents and the sleepless night soured with joy of riding a bus to his first school trip. She can close her eyes and try to never think about what David would do when he has a cold and when he comes home with that nasty accident from school with no mummy to cuddle him to sleep.

Yesterday I asked him where mommy was? “She is in Chinhoyi with mama Fel…” came the painful response with a worried look on his face. Cynthia Monjoro and her co-accused are among several cases of innocent people serving illegal sentences in Zimbabwe’s prisons. She is a victim of warped judicial system. The case of Cynthia Manjoro and Glen View 28 has largely been politicised and the criminal justice which is expected to uphold the sacred principles of democracy by ensuring equality before the law, justice and rule of law prevail at any cost is the same institution which practices selective application of the law. The courts have decided to throw the notion that we are all equal before the law and one is innocent until proven guilty.

No amount of money or gesture can repay the time she lost, the physical and emotional trauma she suffering in prison. Cynthy is a young mother who longs to get back to her job, bath her son, put him to sleep and drop him to school. An innocent young woman who longs to see her family, friends and beloved ones one day. Perhaps one day she will talk about the things she lost in Chikurubi Maximum Prison.