Kubatana update 24 September 2013

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We were proud of WOZA for physically delivering their request for freedom and development in Zimbabwe to institutions of power both in Harare and Bulawayo; they said the time has come for politicians to respect our right to genuine peace that comes with enjoyment of our freedoms and development. Meanwhile we were outraged that their protest was met with assault and detention by the ZRPthe police conduct violates domestic, regional and international standards and norms that guide the right to free protest. On a related note, we thought Fungai Machirori addressed, and wrote persuasively about an important issue in Zimbabwe today – the fact that new media may broaden the access to information and spark conversation but that there is also the need to get offline – and physically and visibly own your issues: if the sheer volume of tweets, retweets, likes and shares could change circumstances, Zimbabwe would surely have enough electricity to power itself for the next two years. We agreed with Amanda Atwood that The Herald’s ‘Cabinet Supplement’failed to inform: the actual “meat” of the supplement – articles, comments, information and journalism – takes up less than 3 pages of the supplement; the congratulatory messages take up more than 11 – if Zimbabwe’s state newspaper can’t outline even basic facts about the country’s ministers and their portfolios, where do the rest of us begin. Our favourite blog title of the year so far comes from Fungayi Mukosera:Zimbabwe is like a scattered sheep herd with a hyena playing shepherd. We wiggled our hips and other bits and pieces when we listened to a new song on the scene; it’s called What Kind of Man, composed and written by Blessed Zikali and Axon Bhobho, and draws attention to the issue of domestic violence: this song speaks to men, encouraging them to discuss issues with their spouses and not resort to violence to solve issues, it’s a afro-house song with twists of jazz. We went Inside/Out with Topper Whitehead who calls himself a cantankerous old fart but this old fart was so threatening to Mugabe that he was declared a prohibited immigrant; subsequently he has succeeded in a Supreme Court appeal to regain his citizenship. We found out that whilst Petina Gappah gets irritated with the term ‘African writer‘ NoViolet Bulawayo embraces it: I am an African. If I deny that label, my work will scream otherwise. We were moved by the poetry of Bev Reeler who woke this morning with tired eyes clouded by old stories and repeated patterns. We spent some time with the inspiring Tom Soper who reckons that if you are not bold about looking for, and accepting new things, you will probably reach your deathbed with quite a lot of regrets. We were impressed by a recent piece by Ian Scoones in which he questions the World Food Programme’s estimate of 2.2 million Zimbabweans in potential need of food aid; he agrees that rural development challenges are many – they include the need to invest in irrigation to offset drought vulnerability, the importance of investment and reforms to ensure timely supply of inputs, a pricing and market policy to balance incentives between food and cash crops, a livestock policy that ensures such assets are secure and available in times of need, and, overall, more concerted support for the resettlement areas to ensure that they can indeed supply the nation with food. We were excited to hear that an underground newspaper has been launched in Eritrea and wish the same would happen here because our above ground ones are So Boring. We came across an interview with the rapper-designer Kanye West who launched an attack on racism across culture – in fashion, theatre, film and music – saying that black people are routinely denied the opportunities granted to white people. We got to know about the Sudanese artist Khalid Albaih who publishes cartoons on his “Khartoon” Facebook page – merging the word cartoon with his country’s capital, Khartoum; in essence he pokes fun at power– try it sometime. We laughed when we checked out what famous celebrities would look like as normal people. And finally we came across some food for thought from the bite sized Joan Didion: Character – the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life – is the source from which self-respect springs.
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