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For an African man, sex is power to shut up a woman's mouth

02 May 2021 at 06:30hrs | Views
Nomazulu Thata
An activist is a person who campaigns for social change. Someone who's actively involved in a protest or a political or social cause can be called an activist. Forms of activism range from mandate building in the community (including writing letters and articles to social media on internet and local newspapers), petitioning elected officials, or contributing to a political campaign, and demonstrative forms of activism like rallies, street marches, strikes, sit-ins etc. (definition from Merriam Webster dictionary)

The definition of activism fits perfectly with my political engagements. If you have five senses you do not need anyone to define to you how you engage in activism. It is the passion only that drives one.

To tell an activist that "you should write articles that are acceptable to Matabeleland" is absurd. I can as well go to church and be a church member who have a set of rules to adhere to, to be accepted as a Christian full member. The active mind of an activist and her thinking processes of activism transcends narrow confines conventional thinking; they think outside the box always. They could be total misfits in a conventional community.

Most activists do not necessarily have academic education; but to have academics in the movements is of great advantage. Here, I want to say the language use in our activism is considerably basic because we want to reach out to the larger readership; for this reason, we are told we are just simpletons who talk about people not about ideas. An activist is not a professor at the department of Linguistics for goodness' sake.

Coming back to my personal journey of activism, I have had interesting experiences, some of which were encouraging but most of them were disappointing. To be an activist in Africa is to invite insults unimaginable by common sense. It is bad enough to be a male activist: it is worse if you are a woman. Discouragement from general comments does not deter a passionate activist from doing her work she loves most.

African societies label African women activists as prostitutes cheap women looking for men. About seven years of activism, comments about me on social media are meant to crush me emotionally and I give up the trade. Realizing that I have never had this feeling of a crushing defeat ever to give up altogether, the pressure is evident that I should write what pleases the region to get acceptance from them; how absurd.

I am sure Amai Mujuru will concur with me when I say men use women to their advantage all the time. A woman will get recognition and importance if she is of potential use to them. The moment a woman defines herself different from men's expectations she is dropped instantly and becomes subject to ridicule.

A good example is when Joyce Mujuru was pedestalized by Zanla forces as gallant woman who fought in the war, brought down a Rhodesian forces helicopter single-handedly. For 35 years we have been fed this narrative until the Zanu factional fights emerged: the Gamatox era and later, the G-40 and Lacoste days.

Amai Mujuru was thrown out of the party together with the narrative that she shot down an enemy helicopter during the liberation struggle. As if that was not enough, her dress code was also scrutinized: advanced Shakespeare language was made use of to describe her mini dresses that showed "bearded innards", a wholly sexist description. For about 200 years ago, this was our African dress code by the way: mini dresses made of leather. Why ridicule what was once upon a time our way of life: a culture.

There are several other commanders in Zanla who joined the band wagon in denigrating Amai Mujuru as a cheap woman who caused the deaths of commanders in the battlefield. Those commanders forgot one important point that Joyce Mujuru at that incident was shot by Rhodesian forces; she had to be sent to Zambia for treatment. It appears those facts are not important of note when it comes to men dressing down women as mere objects of sex.

Personally, I write articles as a vehicle to effect change in the mind and thinking of societies in Zimbabwe. I write about women's issues, child sexual abuse, and to some extent politics generally. Corruption is a disease in African power matrix. I do not write to please individuals or a section of a tribe. Having written about corruption in Bulawayo City Council, instead of getting appraisal for fighting corruption, I got insulted because I touched the element of tribe in the critiques of my article that has more weight than corruption.  

That said, activism is not a strait jacket. What is common in activists is that they read extensively. From the online daily news, if something stands out and if it is worth to write home about highlighting national discrepancies, they sit down and write without fear or favour. Activism comes from the fact that we are forever active in exposing the roots of evil in the society. We can never be silenced.

Seasoned activists like Hopewell Chinono will tell you more about their experiences with Zanu regime. Chinono touched the thread, the main vein of corruption in our societies and he suffered for his courage. They have been to prisons for 40 days and nights for their brave actions. For this reason I have great respect for them all, including Honourable Joanne Mamombe and Cecilia Chinembiri.

Activism is like politics: it is a trade like no other. We have come to learn to enjoy only given moment, could be seconds or minutes, because everything else is temporal. This glory of abundant language use: we have no limits no brakes when we talk because language is our instrument for change. We do not engage in abstract ideas, but about people and current issues and current affairs on the ground. It is for this reason we can also be called simple minded group that can only talk about people and not ideas.

Chancellor of Germany; Dr. Helmut Kohl once said: "Read newspapers that is read by 80% of the people in Germany and know what they think. He meant that you miss out if you only read Frankfurter Rundshau und Spiegel. Talk about people: talk with people in the Berliner Zeitung and Bild Zeitung and know them better. I have never voted for CDU but have great respect for Dr. Helmut Kohl MHESRP.

Again let me come back to my reason for writing this article: it is a pity that young people of Zimbabwe are not able to articulate information in the social media intelligibly: hence they do not exercise critical thinking. Information that is not congruent with their formal thinking will be attacked using language below the belt. From our culture, these men know how women fear to be insulted using sex as a weapon of ridicule.

If a woman writes an article that is unacceptable to them men, then she will invite a fieldwork of a series of insults known only by women in mainline politics and activism. Some men do come to my defence; will reply "remember these boys were in their father's tes*cles when you started politics in 1974, please do not mind them." Comments are made to scare me to silence: they are made to inflict fear of sex scandals because inherently, the men know the crushing effect of ridicule using sex: a woman should never delve into ideas that are not accepted by mainline thinking.

How do you comprehend sexualized comments from men who think below the pale most of the time? Are our men not capable of giving intelligent comments, civilized comments that have semblance of an educated nation? Do they realize that comments expose UBUNTU -HUNHU? We never write article to ridicule people but we, however, use strong words: "shock and awe" to sensitize our societies to think about issues affecting us daily on the ground. Activism is all about change for the better. We awe it to the coming generation that deserve better than us.

Source - Nomazulu Thata
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