Last week, I attended a meeting with colleagues I have known for a very long time. Before I attended the meeting, I had a question of clarification which I ran through one of my colleagues. Immediately, he dashed off to talk to the boss and totally misrepresented the information. What came next was the boss, red faced, charging at me accusing me of things I had no idea what he was talking about. I was tempted to remain silent and apologise and thought, haibo (no), these work structures can be toxic and this now was the time to be assertive with my boundaries.
I politely stood my ground and challenged what was being said. Eventually we had a side conversation and we somewhat found understanding. Now, it got me thinking how many times we find ourselves in a bind and feel powerless to even begin to defend ourselves and assert what we believe in. Zimbabwe, could this stand true of our current narratives as a people?
The documentary narrative
Many times, our lives are ravished by patriarchy — a system that gives men power, privilege, access and control. This system has stood the test of time and often abuses anyone that is not aligned to what it deems “acceptable”.
Now, it doesn’t matter how you are and where you are from, patriarchy rears its ugly head and we often find ourselves, especially as women, in a place of silence. Silence does not mean we do not know what we are doing or what we ought to say, sometimes it is a very loud voice of defiance.
However, what is a more beautiful sound than silence is voicing one’s opinions, thoughts, feelings and story. This is not to say we promote egocentricity, it is about being authentic to one’s voice. As I stood there dear reader hearing this man talk about his power, position and influence, I felt the need to thoroughly understand my truth. Sometimes that is exactly what we ought do as humans, cut our losses, stand firm in our truth and push for a win-win. Mostly a victory that asserts that we truly believe in and defines our values.
Now, as I stood there listening and witnessing a plethora of human emotions, I also recalled that’s how I had felt watching the much talked about Al Jazeera: Gold Mafia — Episode 1. We all have voices and each of us are allowed to exercise our voice. Whilst I am very grateful that this served as a sort of exposé, I also am very aware of the politics that surrounds systems.
As a Zimbabwean feminist activist, I am well aware of how directed our systems are in Zimbabwe and how a very few individuals are controlling the country’s capitalists machinery and to what end. However, sometimes, when our stories are told without our voice, there is just so much that misses the mark.
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When we have to stand on the other end of a story and merely receive that which has been captured, edited and shared, we miss out on also sharing our voice. Of course many memes have come out of the documentary and so has humour, as is natural for us a Zimbabweans.
However, the truth still remains, our truth needs to be amplified by each one of us adding our voice and exploring how best to win.
Some yes will remain silent but it is great that we each explore how we want to express our voices. This past weekend, there were some primary elections to define those in the race for the upcoming elections, could that have been an opportunity to voice our truth and choose we will not remain silent any longer?
Ours is not a call for usurping owners or changing regimes, it is a strong clarion call for the leader in each one of us to make a difference as we seek to ensure that Zimbabwe is built and restored by its very own for each one of us to live a fulfilling life.
Something many of those who identify with this country have agreed isn’t the current narrative: it takes more than a documentary to unpack what we face daily as citizens, whilst the latest piece of work is appreciated, the very thing that haunts our souls is what exactly shall we do to ensure that we reclaim our motherland and make it work for each of us!
Yes we can!
Sometimes, when the powers that be are constantly barking down your throat and you are remotes to feel disempowered, it is natural for you each of us to want to backdown. Sometimes what surrounds our lives, the toxic power, greed, corruption, dishonesty and constant abuse might feel exhausting. However, each day is a new day for you and me to explore how we amplify our voices and make our lives work not just for us but all of us. Someone once said to me that strength is knowing that you have nothing left to give but you push on until you achieve that which you hope for.
It’s is never easy for ten majority of the citizens in Zimbabwe, especially the women. Let us keep speaking our truth to power. Let us hold hands and make each day a brighter day by challenging the status quo and refusing to become victims of our narratives.
A better today and tomorrow is possible and it takes you to use your voice so as to make life work better for all of us.
We keep looking forward until we achieve that which we hope for: we never give up until we build a better legacy for future generations. We keep at it, praying, hoping and believing. Until then, we live, laugh and love louder in a bid to show the world that we were here, becoming better, making our mark, and leaving our footprint as we make the world a better place!
- Chirenje writes in her personal capacity as a citizen of Zimbabwe. Twitter: @graceruvimbo; Facebook: Grace Chirenje; Instagram: @graceruvimbo