Dear Family and Friends,
Source: Accountable to each other? – The Zimbabwean 25.11.2016
After a fortnight away you return to Zimbabwe and instantly know you are home: you can feel it in your heart, sense it in your soul, breathe it into your lungs, see it with your own eyes. It’s not just the beautiful blue sky, hot sun and stunning landscapes but much more than that, it’s the people: children straggling home from school along the highways, waving as you drive by; women sitting on the roadsides selling veggies and bowls of wild fruits; hundreds of people along all the pavements selling everything they can think of in order to make a living. Yes, there are the negatives too and as ugly as they are, they have also become the face of home, the face of Zimbabwe in 2016 and for many years before today: hundreds of people queuing outside every bank in every town to try and withdraw their own money; endless police stops, many with their intimidation and determination to extract a few dollars from you; derelict, unproductive seized farms; endless kilometers of missing roadside fences leaving cattle, goats and donkeys straying onto the highways; dumped litter everywhere, on the roadsides, around the towns, in the suburbs; closed factories, crumbling industrial areas with rusting fences and weeds growing through concrete.
Before long it is your civic duty as a Zimbabwean to again catch up on the news about what’s been happening while you were away: the incessant political positioning and posturing, finger pointing, accusations and stories of corruption. There has been more brutality at attempted demonstrations, more arrests, and just more, more, more of the same. It’ almost too much to bear, too shocking, embarrassing, disgraceful to follow but then you find the hidden gem, the light in the darkness. This week it came from 28 year old Zimbabwean Nyasha Musandu.
In a superb article after her arrest in Harare for sitting in a park with nine others in peaceful protest against the introduction of Bond notes in Zimbabwe, Nyasha Musundu uses one simple phrase that leaves you unable to sleep at night as you wrestle with your own conscience about your place and your role in the 17th year of Zimbabwe’s crisis. Musandu says: “I am You.” Musandu’s article is posted in full on social media sites but these extracts bear repetition:
“Despite earlier reports that activists… had been abducted and tortured during the night, … we decided to be accountable to each other.”
“We …decided that sitting peacefully in the park, in solidarity, was the very least we could do to exercise our constitutional right and to register our dissatisfaction with a policy of government.”
“We held on to the belief that if we could be the example of the Zimbabwe we want to create, then that would be a victory…”
“I am merely a concerned citizen, who looks up and sees a country being deprived of the promises it was made at the dawn of independence.”
“I am a citizen who wants the opportunity to work hard, buy a home and also create opportunities for my future children. I want an equal playing field that allows me to thrive within my own country….”
“I wanted to lead by example and face fear. I wanted to be a living example of kusatya (being unafraid). I wanted to reassure myself that if a few people stand up for what is right, eventually we can all stand together. I wanted to get home and feel I had played my part in nation building.”
“I am someone’s daughter… I am someone’s sister… I am someone’s girlfriend, friend and associate. I am you . . . a mere citizen of Zimbabwe.”
“We don’t want to be something special, we don’t want to be heroes, we just want to be the change we want to see in the world…. if we really want change, we all have to do better. ALL OF US.”
Nyasha Musandu, a 28 year old Zimbabwean, born eight years after Zimbabwe’s Independence, ended her article with the words: “ I stood up to Goliath. What are you doing?…” A damning question that leaves us searching our souls and questioning if we are being accountable and empathetic to each other through this nightmare or simply floating in a bubble. I salute you Nyasha Musandu and as we struggle in our own ways to strive for a new Zimbabwe and not be broken in the process , it helps to remember the words of Michelle Obama: ”When they go low we go high.”
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.