WOZA film wows UK audience


man'”> – A crowd of 80 or more attended the first screening of the documentary film, ‘From WOZA with love’, at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). The event was organised by the student’s society ‘Friends of Africa’.

Filmed in Zimbabwe by a cross-section of un-named journalists and edited in the UK by Lois Davis, the film shows the women of WOZA, ‘Women of Zimbabwe Arise’ in action. We hear from individuals like Magadonga Mahlangu as she outlines the group’s aim to resuscitate love in the face of violence and hate in Zimbabwe – even at the risk of being beaten each time they demonstrate peacefully.

The film shows women of all ages in discussion – forceful, outspoken and articulate – and shows them constantly out on the streets, spirited, strong, marching and singing.

Only at the end of the film, in the distance, do we see women forced on to an open truck by the police and youth militia who routinely beat them up and arrest them. This is because anyone caught filming will have their cameras smashed or be beaten themselves.

WOZA was formed in 2002 to empower women and give them a platform to express themselves on issues that needed to be addressed. ‘At WOZA we teach each other’ says one of the women in the film ‘and our minds open up!’

Another says proudly, of a street march to which she went with her baby on her back, that she went to prison with the child because she wanted rights for herself – and rights for that child.

Commitment is total, as is clarity about the policies and programmes they’re pressing for. In a country brought to its knees by lust for political power, WOZA’s non-partisan grassroots concerns are a desperately-needed antidote (power of love versus love of power, to paraphrase a favourite slogan of theirs).

Inevitably, the film ends with a reference to Operation Murambatsvina (clear out the trash) which has ruined livelihoods and made 2005 the toughest year yet for women and children in Zimbabwe. WOZA’s capabilities have never been more vital.

From the young women in the room comes a feeling that what WOZA is achieving is a template for communities anywhere struggling for equality and human rights. You watch these women in action together and despair vanishes. Everyone interested in the role of civic movements should see the film. – Own correspondent

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