Beyond the “Shinny Object Syndrome”

Who needs the women’s month to appreciate their heroines?, this post is celebrating women who dedicated their lives to doing what we would rather not do. They are symbols of resilience with a heart of gold. They came a little bit before me, they are big sisters in the struggle.

As someone who has grown to be a human rights activist over the years, I know how it feels to get a knock on my door at midnight to see a woman whose husband has turned rogue on her. I know how it feels to receive a call that tells you that something unjust has transpired and people need help. I have shared my last bag of scorched vegetables with a woman with a crying kid on her back. I have had sleepless nights working on what I think matters to my community while waking up to mornings where I am asked on different platforms, “What are the so-called human rights activists doing about this!?”

But this is me, and I quit almost everyday. After quitting the tears and blood of those who came before me nudge me on the shoulder and tell me to try again. Knowing that I can just call on them at anytime and they will definitely show up is a humbling experience. Their passion for what they stand for built for them an unshakable foundation on which they now stand on firmly. They stand for that which is right without the aim of turning into “shinny objects” that people can stare at in public. Behind closed doors they conquer and live on.

A huge appreciation goes to Florence Ndhlovu 🙂 I call her sis Flo and she has been a comrade and a sister in my life. She has shared her knowledge, her networks and most importantly the spirit of standing firm for one’s convictions. When I first began interacting with her she was working at Zimrights, an organization with which she was with for quite some time. Over the years she would inspire close up and from afar, when she started working with ZIMCODD, I remember her calling to tell me that our organization should be a member. I watched her do wonders to that space and engage quite a number of young and old people in in-depth conversation about tax justice, it was information that we would have not readily grasped if not for the way she adamantly engaged us. I currently use some of her presentations and resources in my work. Most importantly she is a family person, and that alone is a value that cannot be rated in a blogpost.

Florence Ndhlovu

Our next knight in shinning amour is Prisca Dube. She is a former magistrate, worked at Legal Resources Foundation, moved to ZWLA, got a lot of degrees under her belt and is currently with Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. With Zimbabwe’s current legal system, trust me I would not want to be in her shoes 🙂 aside from the fact that they really are too huge to fill, it is her persistence that gets me inspired. Passionately known in most spaces as PD, she has really shown me the human face of the law and the good practices in administering the law. I met PD in workshops where she was breaking down the law for our understanding but she has impacted a lot of people beyond those spaces. She upholds inclusion, Pan-Africanism and Feminism, a recipe likely to change the world.

Prisca Dube

Then there is our beloved doctor of peace, Dr Ntombizakhe Moyo-Nyoni. Zakhe actually held my hand from my days as an undergrad student till present day. I am honored by the fact that I am actually looking forward to working on a research paper with her in the near future. She is a Doctor of Peace and my former lecturer at both undergrad and postgrad level. She was one of my supervisors when I did my internship at Grace to Heal. When YIT was formed she was one of the first people to not only shake my hand but also to hold it and walk me through the thorns in the civil society sector. Above all she is a reminder to keep calm and trust in your efforts.

Ntombizakhe Moyo-Nyoni

These are three among many other powerful women that I interact with on a daily basis. Through the struggles and successes, I truly appreciate the unsung heros of my lifetime.

They should have warned us about the 30s

Now that the 30s have shown up strong, I don’t understand why we build the body and take care of it all our lives for it to deteriorate naturally,

I don’t get why we hate, hurt and anger only to torment ourselves with a broken souls that we need we spend time trying to heal years down the line,

I don’t understand why we don’t pay attention to the soul which is seemingly the most consistent aspect of our existence,

I don’t understand the wrinkles, the aches and the loss of interest in activities that were otherwise the center of our universe

I don’t get why love is suddenly complicated, I can no longer just pick a human being and allow them to ruin me, everyone is just busy with their own thing,

I don’t get why making choices is not as fun as it was back then when you only had to chose between being a nice person or being a mean human

Most importantly I don’t get paying bills, like what the fuck is that life?

The dreams get more dramatic, prayers more frequent and thankful, and self introspection more insane. Being in my head is an extreme sport, letting others in is admitting reality which is not easy to grasp. With a little less shame and a bit more of embracing every scar. They should have told us about the 30s

Locating young women in the Decade of Action – a focus on access to land

Women’s economic development, participation and positioning are key anchors of the targets set by numerous global and regional protocols and agreements that have emerged over the past 20 years. Many of these instruments and frameworks place an emphasis on women’s economic advancement towards the eradication of feminization of poverty which covers the poverty of choices and opportunities such as the ability to lead a long, healthy, and creative life, and enjoying basic rights like freedom, respect, and dignity. At the pinnacle of these protocols and agreements are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and though progress is being made in many places, action to meet the Goals is not yet advancing at the speed or scale required. [1]In this vein, in September 2019, the UN Secretary-General called on all sectors of society to mobilize for a decade of action for accelerating sustainable solutions to all the world’s biggest challenges — ranging from poverty and gender to climate change, inequality and closing the finance gap.

2020 supposedly ushered in a decade of ambitious action to deliver the Goals by 2030, with an increased focus on youth and the need to manipulate the youth bulge to scale up the implementation of SDGs and inspire breakthroughs. In the spirit of the SDGs leaving no one behind, this then calls for the need to address several systemic factors that combine to drive young women’s poverty and gender inequality which include restrictions on young women’s property rights, lack of opportunities and social exclusion[2]. In order to locate young women in the decade of action it is therefore paramount to locate them locally. In this vein, it is then key to note that women’s advancement is not facilitated primarily by various protocols and agreements but by the state’s capacity to weave them into measurable, national development priorities that shift structural inhibitors to women’s participation in the economy[3]. Locating young women in Zimbabwe in the decade of action, therefore, requires a focus on land as one of the major sources of income in the country, taking an audit of where young women stand, addressing the gaps and constrains of effective participation.

Historically, Zimbabwe’s colonial era was punctuated with land grabs and seizure of livestock that augmented inequalities that lead to the liberation struggle. Moving from the colonial era, land redistribution was high on the list of priorities for the Zimbabwean Government in 1980 with the aim of improving the standard of living of the largest and poorest sector of the population. Zimbabwe has since employed several measures in line with its constitution to reduce inequality in the way people access of land for whichever purposes through the Intensive Resettlement Program, the National Land Policy of 1990, the 1992 Land Acquisition Act, and the Land Reform program of the year 2000. However, these efforts did not pay special attention to the inequalities within the poor majority, thus, young people’s access to land has always been overlooked. The situation then gets worse for young women whose contribution to the productiveness of the country remains minimal. Land reform is a political process, which is influenced by many stakeholders, both at the national and international level[4] and, hence, to position young women for productiveness there is need to strike a balance between the market-based land acquisition and Government led approaches to land acquisition.

Post the introduction of SDGs, which Zimbabwe is a signatory of, the government then introduced the Land Commission Act (Chapter 20:29)[5] to provide for the Zimbabwe Land Commission established by section 296 of the Constitution; to provide for the acquisition of State land and the disposal of State land; to provide for the settlement of persons on, and the alienation of, agricultural land; to provide for the control of the subdivision and lease of land for farming or other purposes; and to provide for limiting of the number of pieces of land that may be owned by any person and the sizes of such land. Surprisingly, though written after 2 years into the introduction of SDGs, the Land Commission Act is silent on the emancipation of women, thus paying a blind eye to the international targets that clearly state that achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment is integral to each of the 17 goals[6]. The country has, however, had a bit of progress towards addressing inequalities land lately through the National Land Audit. Though the full report is yet to be released, none of the snippets in the mainstream media are addressing land and gender.

 Considering this history and current legislature, it is still necessary to position young women for the decade of action which will accelerate action in three levels that are global action, local action and people action. At a global scale, the frameworks already exist through the SDG indicators under SDG 1, 2, 5, 11, & 15. [7]Land is a significant resource, both cross-cutting and critical to achieving the SDGs and many land organizations and stakeholders are committed to fully implementing the SDGs and to monitoring the land-related indicators in order to promote responsible land governance. However, the tire status for indicators on SDGs show that methodologies have been established but there is no regular data being produced. This provides a gap for young women to be part of the data collection process and for the process to target them in order to gather data.

Evidently from the above narrative, local action has to embed a gendered transition into policies, budgets, institutions and regulatory frameworks. In Zimbabwe tis should be led by people action, thus, youth collectives, civil society, media, the private sector and other stakeholders to prioritise young women in advocacy for land and access to opportunities. Since the Decade of Action will mobilize everyone, everywhere to create an unstoppable force linked to the Global Goals, all stakeholders should ensure that they leave no one behind. There is a demand for urgency and ambition towards ending extreme poverty, winning the race against climate change and conquering injustice and gender inequality. This will ultimately be driven by sustainable innovation, financial investments and technology—while making space in our communities and cities for young people to lead.

Article by – Thando Gwinji


[1] https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/decade-of-action/

[2] Madzwamuse,   M. 2014. Economic Justice as a Site for Women’s Empowerment. BUWA Journal

[3] Pheko, L. 2014. Overview of Frameworks. BUWA Jo                               

[4] Chitsike, F. A Critical Analysis of the Land Reform Programme in Zimbabwe

[5] https://zimlii.org/zw/legislation/act/2017/12

[6] https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/women-and-the-sdgs

[7] https://landportal.org/book/sdgs

Ngobani lababantu

#BOTY2020 MUSIC

So this year was an interesting one when it comes to my appreciation of music and how it controls one’s emotions, perceptions and actions. Case in point I was even singing along to a Corona awareness song that was playing every other minute on local radio and TV stations. Though music has been used a lot for propaganda in Zimbabwe, its healing power dawned on me this year.

This epiphany led to the launch of a successful project with the Loziba Movement. We released a track called Phakama that spoke to the communities, urging people to stand up and work together to address tax and economic injustices within their respective spaces. To me it was about young women understanding how they can use their voices for change, it was about empowerment.

The song that caught my attention ultimately was Ngobani Lababantu by a lady called GeeSixFive who then unfortunately passed on after releasing the track. Because of her age and the lyrics of her chorus she trended as a meme everywhere. It is until recently that listened to it very closely and realized that it was speaking to what we call “abantu bazothini syndrome.” This is when we concentrate aa lot on what society says at the expense of pursuing our dreams and wildest imaginations.

GeeSixFive was an accomplished PhD candidate who released a piano track in her 60s. I guess we as society expect a person of her age to be sitting at home miserable. I personally would not want anyone to be miserable and I guess we all mean well for each other. The problem is that we never tell each other what we think or want we feel. We telepathically communicate what “society” thinks whenever we mention age, gender, race etc in our conversation. So GeeSixFive’s question still stands – NGOBANI LABABANTU? – WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? Who are the people that you are talking about when you say, “What will people say?”

There are no guarantees in life

#BOTY2020 Lesson Learnt


Mental shackles become apparent when all you ever believed in doesn’t pluck you out from situations that require a sober line of thought. Readjusting to cope with life’s most pressing questions by throwing out all you ever knew is a sign that there is a pressing need to re-evaluate all value systems.  2020 was punctuated with a lot of learning and unlearning, as a writer it made me realize that being in the right state of mind, or just being steady enough to sit down and write, is actually a blessing. Because all I ever wrote this year was the Winter ABC challenge, it is obvious that this year I was just folding my hands and watching the year as it unfolds. No judgement. No remorse. This is surely a year that will go down in history books with a strong lesson that there are no guarantees in life.

I have taken up yet again another bloggers’ challenge, “The Best of the Year 2020 (#BOTY2020)” and this December I will be randomly sharing some of my best Experiences, Lessons and Memories of the year 2020. I will begin this #BOTY2020 Challenge with a topic on the Best Lesson Learnt and that will be that, there are no guarantees in Life, nothing is certain and nothing is permanent. I came out of the year 2019 in tatters, I was defeated in a whole lot of battle fronts. I wasn’t even planning on picking myself up, everything was just running on autopilot. Little did I know that the month of March will force me to confront that situation and decide exactly what I want to do with my personal and professional life. Well actually I thought that it was going to be just the month of March but most of the year was a year of reflection.

To fulfil your purpose in life and to live up to your destiny takes a lot of faith in what you believe is right. However, faith in itself is tricky and fluid, you never realize that the strength of your faith lies in the little things that glue you to your identity. When your identity changes or when your identity doesn’t make sense any more, then that which is right changes as well. This is when your experiences begin to mold you. This is when you are just not facing or conquering challenges but it’s when you are evaluating the amount of joy in your victories as well. Faced with realities of a dark world in sobriety, the values we uphold as humanity changed. If I were to die today, would I be happy to leave my child suffering in this world? Then is aspiring to procreate any victorious if when you do a worldwide pandemic can easily wipe them off the face of earth? So why are we even stereotyping those who have chosen not to walk in paths whose joy is not guaranteed?

There comes a point where what we hold with high regards becomes irrelevant in our lives. This is the year when I became a foe to some of my most priced mentees because I decided to set them loose into the world. It was probably the worst timing because they might have needed a hand to hold in this difficult year, but I believed that holding on to anything at this point is detrimental to the process of re-evaluating. This alone made me rethink relationships and realize that people often impose their expectations on you without considering what you might expect from them. This makes relationships impermanent regardless of your investment in them. It is not just fallouts that makes relationships temporary but death as well. 2020 was mostly punctuated with death, not just Corona related but a lot of road accidents as well including that of one of Bulawayo’s best rapper Cal Vin. Death looks a bit more final and makes hate really unnecessary.

Fast forward to December 2020, where we are now. Just a week ago, I was diagnosed with COVID19 by the Kenyan authorities. Before even feeling any of the symptoms, the stress alone had me worked up. I wasn’t only worried about spending 14 Days in quarantine in Kenya but of my health and that of comrades around me as well. We then had to take extra precautions and extract me to be quarantined in Zimbabwe. Upon arrival I got another COVID19 test which was negative. There really are no guarantees in life. It is very easy for us to lie to ourselves and sugar coat our realities the best way that we can. In a reflection meeting with my comrades in Kwekwe, we smiled at each other and drank beer as if all was well. We knew that all was falling apart and what we stood for as cadres was really threatened by everything and everyone around.

I wasn’t guaranteed that I will live through 2020, both life and death always have a way of reminding you that you are here because of privilege.  So it is imperative to teach them love, let it be the religion.