Wednesday, February 15, 2006

"We Deserve Roses not Hunger!" Zimbabwean Women Tell Mugabe on Valentine's

Yesterday was valentine's day and in Zimbabwe as was the case in most places around the world, women made a big deal of of the quasi romantic commercial indulgence, only perhaps for different reasons than most women. Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), a brave civil protest group which was founded to give voice to women held their third consecutive annual valentine's day protest march in Bulawayo the country's second city. During the march, the women handed out roses and cards sharing in the spirit of the day, but also spoke out on why they were on the streets, not at home receiving the gifts.

For years now, WOZA Zimbabwe's most vocal non violent protest movement, has modelled the art organizing and staging non violent protests in a country where civil action has been undermined by poor organization. WOZA protests have always been well organized, a farcry from other failed protests in Zimbabwe. Yesterday was no exception. Fellow blogger, This is Zimbabwe described how Bulawayo's city center was awash with fliers promoting the march on Monday;

WOZA - Women of Zimbabwe Arise - hit the streets today in the form of flyers everywhere. Two very busy city streets that I saw (there may have been more) were liberally strewn with flyers and small cards at peek lunch hour. These areas were a flurry of activity as passers-by picked them up and some even sat down on the pavement to read them.

They are planning to march tomorrow, as they do every year on Valentines Day. Last year the police harrassed the women before the march even started - some were arrested in their homes long before anything took place. I hope these intrepid souls are safe tonight! Keep WOZA in your thoughts tomorrow, and join them in their efforts if you can.
The theme of this year's march was "a march for roses and bread." WOZA coordinator Jennifer Williams,who was arrested along with 180 other members of the group for violating Mugabe's repressive anti-protest laws, described the march this way,

"We were marching for bread and roses. We deserve roses and the dignity they stand for. Our message to the regime, Mugabe in particular, is that he has failed and should just leave office. We are tired of starvation."
"Seven men and 13 babies were arrested along with the women for marching. The forefront men in Zimbabwe's mainstream anti Mugabe movement have failed the nation and continue to squabble aimlessly. Thankfully there a few good men around who are willing to be counted among the numbers of participants in a women led initiative. This is a welcome turn in tides in Zimbabwe, a traditionally patriarchial society. I think it's smart for Zimbabwean men to do, I know I'd love hang around these intelligent, strong, and defiant woman. Wouldn't you?

I've written about WOZA before, you can read that here.

Since my conclusion to that piece fits this one perferctly, I will use it here too:

Hell hath no fury like a woman spurned they say. The only thing worse is several thousands of them angered by a brutal regime that is wreaking havoc on their families. Mugabe & Co. are surely learning that lesson.
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