Au Revoir 2016!!!

Gender, Women

Goodbye 2016

The year I didn’t write
The year I didn’t create
The year I didn’t nurture my creations
The year that drained all my energy in work I didn’t love
The year my creative juices were dried up by the demands of bureaucracy
The year I matured and accepted that I desire a fulfilling career more than  the money a drag of a job could get me

Goodbye 2016
The year I got myself a home
The year I became an interior decor expert
The year I became a natural gardener; an avid student at taking hard earth and making things bloom
The year I became a plumber, an electrician, a fixer of everything
Nurturing my own home, my sanctuary

Goodbye 2016
The year I became my own woman; caring less about what people think or say about my chosen state of existence and caring more about what makes my happiness
The year I did not step my foot in a church:
-tired of being told I’m possessed by demons because I do not yearn for marriage
-tired of being the subject of alter calls so the ‘blessed’ pastor could lay his ‘holy’ hands on me to attract the heavens’ blessing and whip my average looking self into a glorious mass of ‘marriageable’ meat
-tired of being the subject of special sermons that assume single=sex positive=sinful; and so what if these are individual choices

Yet the very same pastor who constantly preached about ‘sinful’ existence went on holiday paid for by a man he knew very well to have a wife and 2 small houses; seems being single is more ‘sinful’ than adultery because that man never got his special sermon, his ‘special sins’ forgotten or maybe prayed for by the pastor while snorkeling in Durban? 😂
I could not and would not and never will; again, subject myself  to the wiles of patriarchy; ringing its bells loudly in my ears every Sunday and telling me I am not enough because my choices do not subscribe to the ‘norm’!

Goodbye 2016
The year I embraced the word ‘Fuck’; a vocabulary on its own, a multipurpose expression
Of joy: Fuuuuuuck, I got the job!
Of anger: Fuck! That driver just cut me off!
Of surprise: What the fuck! Did he just say I can’t get the service here when I have been waiting in queue for the past hour?
Of concern: Oh fuck; are you alright?
Of love: I fucking love you ❤️!
My friend Clara, with whom I spent my 2015 Christmas in Barcelona, topped it off with this post:img_6337

Goodbye  2016
The year I witnessed the extent to which the world despises women leaders:
I had always known women’s leadership was suppressed and feared but the extent wasn’t always clear to me
Dilma Roussef got impeached for ‘alleged’ corruption by a bunch of corrupt males
Hillary Clinton, with all her flaws, but with enormous experience as a global leader, was rejected and America chose a narcissistic, sexist, homophobic, islamophobic, self absorbed and immature caricature of a man as its President
The UN continued in its trend of thinking that women are good enough as as deputies but not good enough to lead, rejecting the idea of a woman as Secretary General despite there being several qualified candidates.

I welcome 2017 and all it’s surprises, joys, triumphs, defeats, pains & whatever else it has.

After 2016, this bad-ass woman is ready for anything! Sounds like self-praise? Well yeah! A famous Nigerian proverb-thank you Chinua Achebe 🙏🏾- says “the little lizard that jumped from the high Iroko tree said if no one praises me then I will do it myself” and so is this little lizard praising herself!

I would claim $3000 too

Emancipation, Gender, Women, Zimbabwe

I think I can be forgiven if I declare that I really believe that the society I live in is somewhat full of misogynists-men who hate women and female chauvinists and slut-bashers; women who treat other women with disdain. Well, here is why I say so. It takes a commercial sex worker (who my society loves calling prostitutes or hookers) and a male client (whom I would like to call the sniffing dog) to commit an act of prostitution. The client hires the commercial sex worker, and then the two have consensual sex. But guess who is labeled-the woman. Guess who is arrested if they are caught together- the woman. Guess who is arrested for loitering for purposes of soliciting for sex-the woman. As if the man did not want exactly the same things that the woman wanted too.

 Let me give you another example. Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, girl likes boy. Boy and girl have sex. Who gets pregnant-girl. Who is responsible-both. Who should have been more responsible and had insisted on using protection-both. But if they were in school most schools will expel the girl and the boy will continue with his education despite the existence of policies and laws that encourage giving support to such girls. Girl will be ostracised for being loose and boy will receive pats on the back for impregnating her-he is a man after all and has proved he can ‘father’ children. Boy will deny responsibility and deny he ever had sex with girl. If girl decides she cannot take care of the baby and would not be able to bear the responsibility alone and decides to abort, boy will be the first person to report her to the police so she can be arrested. Abortion is illegal in Zimbabwe.

 Boy will spread the news about how girl is an unfeeling creature who killed her own baby before it was even born. Girl will again be ostracised by society, men and women included.

 If girl feels strongly about abortion, decides not to abort, keeps the pregnancy but decides she still is not ready for the responsibility and informally gives the child for adoption by leaving the baby on the doorstep of an orphanage or formally gives the baby up for adoption by choosing a couple that wants the baby; the same boy and society- by and large- will castigate her for being unfeeling and cold. How can a woman give up her own child for adoption? They ask.

 If girl decides to keep the pregnancy, give birth and keep the baby, then all her life she will be referred to as ‘the’ single mother. The derogatory term in Shona is “mvana ine mwana wayo.” Mothers will not want their sons to marry such a woman and in most cases if she finds a man who loves her and marries her, she always has to contend with the monsters-in-law, especially the sisters in law and the mother in law. Men will assume that she is easily available for nothing more than a romp between the sheets.

 Anyway to tell my story, I was reading the Herald-online of the 15th of June 2012 when I came across this headline: “Lawyer demands US$3 000 maintenance.” As the story goes, the lawyer is a single mother, Zimbabwean, based in the United Kingdom who has been taking care of her son single-handedly for the past 14 years. However the father of her son is a known individual, running a very successful transport and fuel business, which all in Zimbabwe know has big money and profits.

 The lawyer requested $3000 maintenance for her child per month from this filthy rich man who probably spends that much on beer and whisky or small houses (concubines) every month. The man refused to pay that sum and said he can afford to pay $200 only because he has a big family of 7 other children and that his business does not make that much money.

If you are going to produce as much sperm as this in one ejaculation, as a man you must be prepared to be responsible should the sperm result in a baby. Fatherhood is not about making women pregnant, it is about taking care of the children born out of those pregnancies.

 Apart from this man’s attitude, the comments that readers of this article also made left me livid, for a lack of a better word. Here are a few that especially made me furious:

 KuDiaspora zvinhu hazvichafaya! Dzoka kumusha kana zvanetsa….but you risk becoming one of the unemployed 80%! Life in the Diaspora is not working for you anymore. Come back home but you risk becoming one [part] of the unemployed 80%,

 Usamupe shagi iroro. Ari kuda kupihwa mari yekunolazwa nedzimwe boyz. Ngaachengete mwana akanyarara. Ari kuda murume kupfuura zvese zvemaintanance zvaari kutaura. Who doesn’t know kuti varume vanonetsa kuwana kuDiaspora. Do not give her that money. She just wants to get money that she will spend with other men. She should take care of her child and not complain. Infact she wants this man more than the maintenance and is using the maintenance claim as a front. Who doesn’t know that men are hard to find in the daispora?

 All these years where was the mother, [the] recession yamukwadza [has affected her]. The father should demand parental rights 3 days a week and request the judge to force amai ivava nemwana [the mother and the child] to return to Zimbabwe so that the father will have a relationship nemwana wavo [with his child] since she said he has Zimbabwean citizen[ship].

 You do not just harvest where you have not sown like the MDC.

 Well here are some facts to all these people who made these comments:

  1. A man should not pay maintenance because he wants to; he has to pay maintenance because it is his responsibility to do so. The same way a father who lives in his home should take care of his children, so should a father who impregnates a woman anywhere. He fathered the child and he must take care of it.
  2. Women do not ask for maintenance because they can not afford to take care of the children alone. Yes, there are some women who will desperately need that help and without it would not manage. But all women have a right to claim maintenance as a matter of principle. If you bring a child onto this planet  then you must be responsible for that child’s upkeep. If you know you can not do so, then giving up the child for adoption is a far  nobler decision as the child will be with people who want him/her and will have his/her best interests at heart.
  3. A woman has the right to claim for maintenance from the father of her child at any point that she feels she wants to. Her reasons for not making the claim earlier are her own. Maybe she was too traumatized by the ordeal of his rejection to want anything to do with him. It may be that she could afford to take care of everything and now she can’t. It may be that he could not afford to take care of his child and she actually felt sorry for him. It may be a lot of reasons and none of them matters. What matters is that in the case of this woman lawyer, at this moment the man can afford to take care of his own child, he ought to have tried doing so all his life and should be ashamed for even trying to talk his way out of it.
  4. In every situation, where adults have wrangles over the welfare of their children, the best interests of the child are the priority. In other words, whatever circumstances work best to give the child the best care, best welfare, best peaceful and safe environment that promotes his/her growth physically, emotionally and mentally should be the one that he/she should be given as a matter of choice.
  5.  Also, visitation rights by a father who has no custody or guardianship rights over a child are not a precondition for a claim for maintenance from a mother who is taking care of the child. There are some men who pay maintenance but do not want to see the child at all. In this case, should the man want to see his child then he would have to work out an arrangement with the mother to see the child. The mother has created the best conditions so far, for her child to have a life. The decision to move to the UK was probably in the best interests of her child because had she not done so she would not have been able to take care of him- and the father has not contributed a single penny to the life of this 14 year old. Surely demanding that this child be brought back to Zimbabwe to live here permanently may not be in the best interests of the child.

 All those who think this woman is being vindictive or that she is being a gold digger should try taking of a child for 14 good years with no help from anyone else. They should go through the stages of giving birth to and bringing up a child from 0 to 14, all alone and if they still think it is a stroll in the park they can come back to me and convince me that this woman is making an unreasonable claim. Why is she expected to continue suffering in silence? Why is her claim being questioned at all when it is her right to claim maintenance and the right of her child to be taken care of by his own father? If I were this woman and if I knew the amount of money this man makes yet he has not done a single thing for his 14 year old child since birth, I would claim a reasonable sum like $3000 per month too.

When will we learn?

Activism, Human Rights, Zimbabwe

*Disclaimer*
[This article does not mean in any way to trivialise the struggle by sexual minorities for their rights, neither does it seek to force the writers’ own views on sexual minority rights on the reader. Rather it is a call on a nation blinded by intolerance and hate to see how political leaders are manipulating that intolerance to drive their own agenda to derail meaningful constitutional reforms]

“Where after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home-so close and so small that they can not be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person: the nighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world” [Eleanor Roosevelt on the Universal declaration of human rights]

Our children are starving

This quote speaks to the essence of what Zimbabweans, as a people need right now, a concerted popular effort to demand human dignity and all that comes with it. We need food on our tables; decent wages and employment; a good education for our children; proper health-care including affordable medication when we need it; roofs over our heads; reliable electricity supply; running and clean water; and proper working sewer systems. These are things we should be demanding to see in a new constitution and as Eleanor Roosevelt said, without concerted citizen action, as Zimbabweans we will continue to look to ‘donors’ to assist us, yet we could solve our problems ourselves.

...we now use candles for light and firewood for cooking...

Yet, overnight, we have stopped deliberating over these fundamental issues. Suddenly, the discussion on a constitution that carries all fundamental rights has been overtaken by the debate on whether gays and lesbians’ rights should be put in the constitution. People’s focus has been shifted from socio-economic guarantees and political freedoms to one issue-homosexuality. So, will Zimbabweans blindly accept a constitution that has no guarantees for either economic, social and cultural rights or basic freedoms simply because it does not contain gays and lesbians’ rights? Will we also blindly reject a constitutional framework that has all these guarantees simply because it also contains gays and lesbians’ rights?

...we find rubbish at our doosteps...

Have we forgotten our fight for justice, freedom, equality, and dignity which began with the liberation struggle and cost the lives of many? Is this what our liberators died for; a nation of hypocrites who fornicate, commit adultery, lie, steal, murder, oppress the poor and yet find themselves better ‘sinners’ than others?

Who are we to judge gays and lesbians? Who are we to condemn them to the extent of segregating and ostracising them? What makes us think they are worse-off sinners than we are? From a Christian standpoint, if we find their behavior sinful are we then being Christ-like when we shun them? Should we not be drawing them into our circles as disciples of Christ and evangelists so they may know the truth we purport to know? Tolerance which Christ preaches demands that we take standpoints against their behavior not individuals, deeds not the doers, choices not the choosers and hence be our brothers’ keepers; are we doing that when we remove them from our circles and call them trash, filth, pigs and dogs? Who and what give us the moral standpoint to consider our own sins less “sinful” than their perceived sins? Why have we all become God- to be the judge and condemn and even kill (in the case of Uganda and David Kato) and rape (corrective rape in South Africa)and deem that they deserve to “be punished severely for their behaviour which is inconsistent with African and Christian values” in our case? [Excerpt from the Herald 24/11/11]

...yet we betray our struggle out of hate!!!

As for Zimbabweans one thing stands clear to me, we have been waylaid!!!

We must always remember that politicians have an agenda and will play on our emotional and moral senses to manipulate circumstances to their own advantage. We are being manipulated and most of us do not even see it. Our oh-so-upright population (my foot) is up in arms against gays and lesbians and has been brainwashed to reject a constitution that so much as mentions that,
“every person has the right to marry a person of their choice.”

The individuals leading this campaign because they find gays and lesbians ‘morally reprehensible’ have committed or instigated the murder, disappearance, torture, abduction, rape, sodomisation, and grave assault of men, women and children to remain in power. Why has the nation suddenly become so blind to their sinfulness? Do these leaders really care about this issue or are they not merely using the question of homosexuality to derail the constitution-making process by diverting our attention from issues they never want to see contained in the constitution?

I think we need to wake up and smell the coffee. Let us leave God to judge His people as He commands. Our priority should be to challenge issues that shape our day to day lives. Whether or not gays and lesbians’ rights are part of our constitution will not bring food to our tables nor guarantee water in our homes. It will neither stop the incessant power cuts nor will it guarantee the nation’s political freedoms. This I believe we need to learn.

When men get raped

Gender, Human Rights, Women, Zimbabwe

On 11 0ctober the headlines in most Zimbabwean newspapers were blazing with the title “Dozens storm female ‘rapists’ police station.” These headlines followed the arrest of three women suspected of raping men based on the 31 condoms filled with semen that police allegedly found in their vehicle.

Since these women’s arrest the police has had to ward off mobs trying to get a ‘glimpse’ of these ‘monsters’ with others eager to mete out street justice because these women are ‘evil’ beyond imagination. The police has gone to great lengths to publicise mere suspects and the media has sensationalised the whole case.

Every day 3 year olds are raped. Young women are molested. Old women are raped some for political reasons by men young enough to be their grandchildren. Fathers rape their daughters, uncles-nieces, brothers-sisters and strangers force themselves upon women yet not one of these men has been paraded to the whole nation so others could identify them as possible rapists.

Has the rape of women become so normal that it does not shock people anymore? Is this case much more of a priority because the victims are men? Sexual abuse against men is a crime and is a violation of their human rights to the same extent that it is the same when committed against women.

This case is reflective of the investigative incompetence of the police in Zimbabwe. It is also telling of the extent to which the rape of women has been normalized yet it is the most abnormal thing that men do. For newspapers to sell the headlines need to show the ‘oh-so-shocking’ tales of men getting raped because the stories of women simply do not catch the eye of the reader. This is not only depraved but quite saddening.

The women are now charged with seventeen counts of aggravated assault because rape as a crime only applies with regard to women and not men in Zimbabwean law. These women deserve to be treated with dignity. As suspects to a crime they must be presumed innocent until a properly constituted court of law finds them guilty. They deserve a fair trial. In this case their guilt can only be proven if one of the complainants who came forward’s DNA sample matches one of the samples of semen that the police is said to have. The semen remains the only legitimate piece of evidence that could link the women to any crime. In the absence of such a match the state has no case against these women and any outcome without such evidence would be a travesty of justice.

I woman

Activism, Emancipation, Gender, Women

Picture credit Carrie's Art & Soul

I woman

Where I come from, I am not just myself
I am a bunch of identities
I am my father and mother’s daughter
Sister to my 5 siblings
Aunt to my 11 nieces and 1 nephew
Niece to my several aunts and uncles;
Maternal, paternal and the kind borne out of societal bonding
I am my friends’ friend …I hope
I woman

Where I come from, I am the girl who finished school without falling pregnant
And not only got one degree but two
A few hate me for it
Some envy me because of it
Others admire me for doing it
I might even be considered a role model by a few because of it
I Woman

It is also where I from that I am considered an ageing spinster
27 years old and not married!
I am considered to have outstretched my era of ripeness
Who wants to pick fruit that is ripe to the point of getting rotten?
I am almost totally unmarriageable
Worse still with the label ‘lawyer’ hanging over my head
I am more than spoiled goods
Who wants an opinionated and argumentative wife?
They prefer them soft spoken, keeping their opinions to themselves
I woman

Where I come from I am a member of my congregation
I love to sing, praise and worship in my church
I love listening to my Pastor’s sermons
Delivered in Shona; my mother tongue
If translated to English, TD Jakes’ own
Would pale in comparison
I woman

It is also where I come from
That I love to hang out at ‘Jazz 105’
Listen to the soothing sounds of African jazz
Go to the Red Fox watch my reggae brothers and sisters
Delivering amazing performances
Reggae music is conscious music
But if my pastor were to see me there
He would find a reason to pray for me the next day
I woman

I want to be a mother and wife
Have the proverbial husband, two kids (make that 3 for me) and a dog
I want to raise those kids and watch them grow
But I want to be a career woman too
I want to see the world, explore it, and transform it
But I also want a home and roots
I woman

I am a woman, yes
I am educated, yes
I love my career, yes
I want to get married, yes
I am a Christian, yes
I love art and will go nether beyond to find it, yes

How do I keep these aspirations together?
How do I fight these stereotypes?
How do I make people understand that the
Multiple facets of my character make the whole me?
How? How? How?
Should I even bother?

I fight patriarchy and patriarchy fights back
I fight societal prejudices and they fight back
Subtle is their fight that when I make noise against them
I am the fool, I am paranoid, I am being defensive
This struggle must end
This struggle will end
And I can be who I want to be
I will be who I want to be
I must be who I want to be
Without having to face judgement at every turn
I woman