Red Roses for Black and Blue Ladies          - 22/10/2008      <--Prev : Next-->

Red Roses for Black and Blue Ladies

When the history books are written about the last ten years of our lives in Zimbabwe, there must be a giant chapter devoted to the WOZA WOMEN.

Thousands of WOZA (Women of Zimbabwe Arise) have dedicated the last ten years of their lives to this beleaguered country, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, they have made the salvation of Zimbabwe their lives' work.

Beaten, tortured, harassed, deep in undercover Matabeleland, they work tirelessly for the deliverance of our land.

They live in simple, frugal homes, squashed in like flies between boxes of flyers, between giant photo copiers, between banners and red roses.

They move silently from safe house to safe house, uncomplaining, sometimes hungry, often in great danger, always nervous of the authorities, and of being raided and detained, yet again.

Countless days have been spent in filth and squalor at Police stations and prisons across the country.

In May this year the "Chikirubi 14" were incarcerated at Zimbabwe's most feared jail, for over five weeks. Chikirubi is on the outskirts of Harare, a maximum security jail where they were forced to rub shoulders with murderers, rapists and killers.

Why Chikirubi ? Why jail at all ? These brave Women have only ever undertaken rallies of peace and protection for their children .... They sit down on the hot tarmac to show they are no threat to peace. They sing and chant quiet slogans of love and peace. They hand out roses, signs of love and harmony. They hand out pamphlets explaining just how their families are starving and suffering.

The "Chikirubi 14" were in jail in the middle of Zimbabwe's fiercely cold winter and when they were eventually released they all had hideous chest infections and severe diarrhea. They were thin in the flesh but still plump with passion for freeing their Zimbabwe from the oppression under which it has found itself for many years now.

Just recently MOZA was formed - Men of Zimbabwe Arise ... and the ranks of the determined are swelling day by day. As hunger crushes the spirit of most Zimbabweans, the mission of WOZA and MOZA is to continue to initiate a non-violent campaign.

"Our aim is to mobilise Zimbabweans to demand social justice from their leaders. The time has come to put the past behind us and start building a better tomorrow. We will hold existing leaders accountable and mobilise people to the movement to demand leaders who will deliver all aspects of social justice and a genuinely people-driven constitution. "

Watching a WOZA march come together, is an extraordinarily moving experience.

On a given day, at a given time, at a given signal, hundreds of men and women silently flood the streets of Bulawayo, Harare, Gweru, Masvingo or even Zambia, wherever there is a chance of their cause being seen and heard.

On the surface, the city seems to be very normal, maybe a preponderance of ladies wearing a touch of red ?

The air is tense and expectant, anxious faces scour the streets for any unusually high police presence.... ..

Suddenly the familiar shrill striking whistle blows, "Woza" , a stentorian voice calls, "Arise Brave Women of Zimbabwe"

"CHI" a great cry arises as women miraculously materialise from shops, alleys, streets, cars and corners.

It is the most spine chilling sound, ethereal, incredible, unbelievable. ... a sound I will hear always hold dear to my heart, where I also hold the clear images of our brave, proud women who will never give up, who are prepared to endure another possible sound thumping .... again.... and again .... and again.

God Bless and keep you safe - Our Own Brave Women of Zimbabwe.