Last week in Maseru, Lesotho, we came together as a group of peace builders to explore the realities of gender and peace building. I loved the experience, I did — it spoke to my deeper humanness to begin a process of empathetic listening, understanding and caring for the opposite gender.
By Grace Chirenje
However, during this past week, I also got to read about the xenophobic attacks in South Africa and whilst I celebrated the work we did as peace builders, I also got an understanding into what it means to be a peace builder and doing business unusual. Moreover, it also made me appreciate my role as a woman and, in particular, what it is like to have the power to socialise and what that means each time things go “wrong” with humanity. What I will do today is reflect on some few insights of gender and peace building.
Women as co-creators
Women I love as their role as co-creators not only fascinates me, but also helps me understand the kind of power that we have as women.
I am the one that carries the pregnancy with all its insane complications even to the possibility of our life loss, but we do get pregnant and help usher in life to this world thus the co-creation role.
After that we birth these tiny beauties, we socialise them and they choose to become presidents, CEOs, editors, teachers, professors, mechanics, footballers, loafers, doctors, sex workers, thieves, corrupt officials and all the people you see today.
Does a mother ever celebrate she is pregnant to birth a person society regards as wayward? Well, I am still to come across that reality.
However, what I do know is that every mother that ever carried a child or yearns to, wishes that the child becomes someone that society can relate to well and that this child will be a cause for smiles, celebration and a beacon of light of some sort. This includes even adoration and ALL good things this world can offer.
So, women are peace builders and when they seem not to appear as such, it could be their desire for the best that manifests in other ways (I am using the law of average here).
Women do not celebrate abuse of humanity at whatever cost, it is not our desire to see the very children we birth to suffer. It hurts and is an abomination to say the least. Love, peace, harmony, progress is what we desire. It does not make us smile to see the ones we birth and socialise become animals, never!
Let me get a little deeper with this.
When people chose to become corrupt and line their pockets with the few resources supposed to benefit a few, that is an insult to our role to co-create and socialise. As a woman, it is very difficult to relate how anyone can even imagine doing this.
When our children turn on each other because they belong to different factions and call each other names, it is a threat to our harmonious teachings. It does not matter what the person has done, as peace builders we desire to see conflicts resolved well with a win-win attitude and solution. This factionalism and turning on each other leaves our hearts bleeding — it does not matter what form or what angle!
No to bestiality
Right now, videos are making the rounds on Facebook and WhatsApp plus all the social media platforms we can think of pertaining to xenophobia. How do we see our children turn against each like that? Does the colour of my skin, sound of my name, how my tongue forms vowels and what I own truly define who I am to the threat of death? Does it surely warrant you to turn on my child and butcher them like one is slaughtering a kill to eat?
Surely, how do we even begin to explain the high exodus of our children to so-called greener pastures fleeing tyranny only to be butchered? So which evil is better — the one where my child rules with an iron hand and makes others flee or the one that descends upon my child who has fled?
Is it better to be hungry and in peace or to die hungry and suffering? The difference is indeed the same as a mother, peace builder and one who socialised you to know better! If I cannot pull that child away to safety, shield them or be physically present, the least that I can do is exactly this — speak out and say no.
We cannot keep silent as humanity turns upon itself to destruction — I refuse to flow with the tide as a co-creator!
A higher calling
Zimbabwe, it is up to us to support and help other Zimbabweans from whatever corner we hail. We are the only ones who can rewrite our narrative and begin to create a meaningful legacy for our children today, tomorrow and always. Even though women co-create, it is not their role alone to socialise as we have seen. Women’s roles have almost quadrupled over the years and the burdens they carry are insurmountable. We can hold hands, you and me, and make this country count amongst nations.
I was inspired by Lesotho. It has its own challenges I am sure, but the moment I stepped out that plane, there was something in that fresh air welcoming a mother of Africa. A true sign of its purity showing how it still remains unpolluted.
The landscape is mountainous, economy doing pretty well. What stood out for me even more was the traditional culture that is still unadulterated by the influence of other people’s way of being. They move around with their blankets around their shoulders in their towns and have a proud connectedness with their local language and culture.
It says out loud that they are confident people who care about their reality no matter what their government has done or offered. When one talks to them, it is clear they believe in a better future for Lesotho. I guess what I am calling upon here is an attitude that is strong in a shared national ethos, something that says we are Zimbabweans and can do much better than the status quo.
It does not matter what the past has offered or how it has treated us, we can begin afresh, reflecting and teaching our children to do likewise.
I choose to utilise my power to co-create and socialise differently so we have peace builders and that my child may be one who transforms, progresses and says no to violence of any form. Nothing and no one stops us, so let’s do this!
Grace Chirenje writes in her personal capacity and would be excited to hear from you. You can contact Grace on email@example.com, follow her on twitter @graceruvimbo or like her Facebook page Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje.