Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for December, 2006

If you can’t slap ‘em, snap ‘em!

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Monday, December 11th, 2006 by Bev Clark

I don’t think anyone can say that Zimbabwe is awash in any kind of Christmas joviality.

Shop owners in our local shopping center – Newlands, in Harare – have made only the smallest effort at marking the festive season. Alberto, the shopping center’s resident hairdresser has had some sign writing done on his windows. There’s a caricature of him with a happy, smiling, and very round face. But in reality he’s more of a scowl these days. Truth be told everyone is pretty scratchy with each other on account of the levels of stress people are enduring related to hyper inflation, the mind numbing prices of basic commodities (as well as the mind numbing stupidity of various politicians) and the pathetic salaries that people are earning. Can you imagine junior army officers earning Z$27 000 a month? That’s about 9 packets of cat food to give you some perspective.

Meanwhile to make a small buck the vendors either hawk a variety of Christmas fruit like watermelons, mangoes and litchis or dubious looking boxes of Christmas lights.

Lately I’ve been mulling what a heterosexist world we live in. I had a small confidence crisis the other day after I realised that a book that I lent a young guy who I’ve just met has a high content of gay sex in it. But then I thought well just about everything I read is resoundingly heterosexual and I’m not (generally) offended. So what’s the Big Deal?

After my encounter with the National Endowment of Democracy and experiencing discrimination regarding the lack of support for partners of same-sex couples I decided to write to Yale University to make sure that their support of “families” for their World Fellows Programme is inclusive of relationships that don’t fit the heterosexist model. Believe it or not, they couldn’t immediately answer my question – and we look to the so-called first world as being “progressive”! Meanwhile South Africa has put many countries to shame by making sure that gay and lesbian people’s rights are protected when it comes to marriage and civil unions.

What else?

I’ve been reading so much good stuff lately. For example, Night Draws Near: Iraq’s People in the Shadow of America’s War by Anthony Shadid. In one section he discusses how fabulous Baghdad was in the 1970′s with a bustling libertine nightlife. Back then apparently “Cairo wrote, Beirut published and Baghdad read”. I wonder what’s left for Iraqis to read these days apart from American propaganda?

I’ve got this friend in the US who keeps me supplied with lots and lots of different things to read, including torn out pages from newspapers. On one of these pages I happened to see a small article on “ladies blog for activism”. Why the use of the word “lady” I’m not too sure but anyway . . . apparently in Blogging Feminism:(Web)sites of Resistance, top bloggers Jessica Valenti (of feminist.com), Michelle Riblett and Lauren Spees (of Hollaback, Boston and New York’s website against street harassment), and Liza Sabater (of the politically charged Culture Kitchen) got together for an evening discussion on how feminists are using the Internet.

By the way, I love Hollaback’s slogan

If you can’t slap ‘em, snap ‘em!

I’m thinking of setting up a similar web site which will feature photographs of Zimbabwean men who whip their willies out to take a piss no matter where they are. Some even have the gall to make conversation with you, dick in hand, as you pass by.

And then I’ve relished The NewStatesmen from front to back, and back again. In fact the back page features a column by comedian Shazia Mirza who recounts a bit of this and that of life in London. Her opening paragraph on one of England’s hottest topics of the moment – burqas – gets my vote as one of the funniest of 2006:

A Muslim woman knocked on my door last night. I didn’t open the door – I just talked through the letter box to see how she likes it

Fuel, forex and now, passport shortages!

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Friday, December 8th, 2006 by Taurai Maduna

Passport office closes“, screamed the Financial Gazette newspaper billboards along Samora Machel Avenue as I made my way to work. It’s just another day in Harare where we get to hear more news about what’s in short supply. We have had fuel shortages, forex shortages and now – passports! One wonders what’s next? I was thinking aloud what would happen if there was a shortage of condoms.

My passport issued in 1998 expires in February 2008 and I began using it in 2004. All along it was just one of those documents that you had to have because you never know when you are going to use it. A colleague has just told me to start applying for a new passport because you never know how long it will take to get a new passport issued! I can clearly state that one of my resolutions for 2007 is to apply for a new passport and make sure that it is issued by December.

Early this year one of my friends, whom I will call Jabulani got fed up with Zimbabwe and migrated to South Africa. Even though he had a passport, he left it behind. On asking him why he would not carry his passport he said; “If I overstay in South Africa, the South African government will look for me”. He went on to say; “If I just cross to South Africa with no passport, I’m not known to the authorities”.

Jabulani is one of the hundreds of people that every week risk life and limb to cross the crocodile infested Limpopo river into South Africa. For those that have money, you can travel on the cross border taxis and enter South Africa through the border even if you have no passport. It’s your money that speaks and gets things going.

I have listened, I have heard

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Wednesday, December 6th, 2006 by Bev Clark

Women’sNet in South Africa recently published a booklet called “I have listened, I have heard”: digital stories for transformation. The booklet also comes with a CD. The digital stories on this CD were developed by two groups of South African women – lesbian women facing discrimination and violence, and women who experienced domestic violence.

Women’sNet held two workshops, of four days each, at the end of which participants had developed their own digital ‘movies’, using their own words, narration, pictures and text. Computers and software, scanners, digital cameras and audio recorders were used to build the movies.

The stories demonstrate the impact of violence on women’s lives. They also show the intersection of gender and other forms of exclusion or discrimination – such as sexual orientation, poverty and HIV/AIDS. The story tellers also celebrate their survival, their relationships and their perseverance.

Make sure to get a copy of this booklet and the CD to help you in your human rights, women’s rights and gender education and training programmes. For more information contact Women’sNet

Don’t agonise, organise!

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Wednesday, December 6th, 2006 by Bev Clark

Back in January 2005 our electronic activism campaign featured MISA’s Advocacy Campaign Model as a tool to help us in our advocacy and organizing work.

Just lately in Zimbabwe we’ve seen a couple of events and campaigns launched in what appears to be a haphazard manner without due consideration to the many elements that go into making protests and campaigns successful.

I’m not too sure what you think, but 50 women turning out for a protest in downtown Harare doesn’t give me much confidence that the organizers did their best to reach out and communicate with their constituencies and in so doing build as much support as possible. Take a look at this report which comments on the recent WiPSU protest.

And then there’s been the Save Zimbabwe Campaign. I got an email recently from the Save Zimbabwe Campaign Task Force with the title line “Save Zimbabwe in Five Minutes”. If only it were that easy! The Save Zimbabwe Campaign emailed a flyer asking Zimbabweans to make a noise during lunchtime – either hoot your horn, whistle, clap your hands, bang pots and so on.

VOA’s Studio 7 reported on the dismal uptake of this campaign, saying

The less-than-impressive results of protests called in the past two weeks by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, a coalition of civic organizations and opposition parties have raised doubts as to the effectiveness of the ad hoc opposition organization.

It leaves me wondering how well the Save Zimbabwe Campaign Task Force communicated, lobbied and encouraged participation in the lunch time make a noise protests. It has shades of hastily pulled together stayaways, which always flop because the organizers just don’t get the fact that you can’t snap your fingers, or send out a few flyers and emails and expect your idea to take flight.

More worrying of course is the intimation that

Differences of opinion over the strategy had emerged within the organizational membership of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign (Studio 7′s report)

Wouldn’t it be great if civil society could agree on something, anything? Even a lunchtime “make a noise” campaign!

Another aspect worth commenting on is the language used in the resistance movement in Zimbabwe. The Save Zimbabwe Campaign should know that we don’t want to “cry” for freedom, we want to SHOUT for it. Nor is our noise a symbol of our “distress” it is a symbol of our DEFIANCE.

Again, we make available online the Advocacy Campaign Model which should be used as an integral tool when organizing events and campaigns.

Please click here.

Getting it on: World AIDS Day

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Friday, December 1st, 2006 by Bev Clark

A South African company has launched a new type of condom that you can put on – real quick. It’s called Pronto! Apparently they are easy to use once you get the hang of it. Some text on the Pronto web site reads

Initially it will require a bit of concentration, but take it slowly in the first few times and the process will soon come naturally. You may want to test one on a broomstick or a water bottle first, ‘to get the hang of it’.

Or of course you could do a self-drive kinda thing and test one on yourself whilst masturbating . . . not sure why they don’t suggest that.

My favourite part of the Pronto web site is the “adverts” section where they have a couple of video demos by Jacob and Manto. Amusing and worth a watch.