‘Wathint’ abafazi, wathint’imbokodo’ is a South African proverb that implies that ‘if you strike a woman, you strike a rock!’
These words from the famous resistance song have come to symbolise the courage and strength expressed at the Women’s March of 1956 as South African women refused to give into increasing oppression without some form of protest.
Yes, in the world dominated by men, society tends to forget the role that is played by women in the fight for freedom, democratisation, and in recent Zimbabwean cases, corruption.
Women can exert more pressure and civil power than a casual observer can see and women held together the fight against colonialism in most African countries.
Come to think of the Kikuyu women in Kenya during the colonial period, who held special influence in the society and defied orders by their English colonisers to increase the exploitation of agricultural labor. Don’t forget their active role in the Mau Mau organisation.
In Nigeria, women like Alimotu Pelewura led the Lagos Market Women’s Association to form a resistance against the colonial government’s economic policies and even conducted mass protests for political rights.
Closer to home, Nelson Mandela was a hero during Apartheid. However, he spent most of his time in jail, and it is women like Winnie Mandela who played a pivotal role in the underground organisation of black resistance.
Asked if she was prepared to take a gun and kill someone to achieve freedom she replied, “ Now I know I can, in the past, I didn’t but when I saw my children mauled down in Soweto in 1976 then I realised in order to defend that I would do exactly the same.”
In Zimbabwe, women played a pivotal role in the fight for independence and emancipation from the chains of British colonialism.
It is the role that they play in the society, that makes them feel the pain at most and they have the power to organize, woven the communities together, and raise against their relatable troubles.
In this conversation, the mind is quick to think about Nehanda Nyakasikana and Lobengula’s wife Lozikeyi Dlodlo.
“Like with ZANLA forces were inspired by Nehanda, the ZIPRA forces were also inspired by Lozikeyi’s spirit. She inspired her people to lay down the pen and pick up the guns again,” (Clarke 2006).
Credit should also be given to the other gender, Joice Mujuru, Victoria Chitepo, Johanna Nkomo, Ruth Chinamano and list goes on as much as the men’s list also goes.
The struggle for independence is interlaced with modern-day socio-eco-political structure and tribulations that today’s society face.
Women still represent the struggle for better governance, accountability, and transparency in Zimbabwe.
July 2020 has been an active month with crusading against corruption and a lack of proper governance. Social media was awash with the # 31 July movement.
This saw the arrest of popular journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono and politician Jacob Ngarivhume, a move which depicted a heavy hand against freedom of expression and the media.
But we should not also forget the women who also were (are) victim to this fight. Women like popular novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga who was arrested for this movement. Young Women like Namatai Kwekweza who was also arrested in the fight for constitutionalism in Zimbabwe. Panashe Sivindi, a National University of Science and Technology student again arrested for staging a peaceful demonstration. Lest we forget Fadzayi Mahere!
It is time we give credit to the other gender in the fight for democracy, accountability, justice, and transparency in Zimbabwe and beyond!