Keeping flame of hope alive

Keeping flame of hope alive


LONDON - We are often told that the solution to Zimbabwe`s crisis must come from Zimbabweans themselves but we are painfully aware that over a quarter of the population has fled the country and those who rema

in are the most vulnerable and ill-equipped to take on the might of a ruthless regime. In the diaspora we ring our hands at every gathering and ask what we can we do to help but other than raising funds to alleviate the suffering its hard to see how we can make a difference and its easy to loose hope. This month`s WOZA MOYA, the newsletter of campaigning group Women of Zimbabwe Arise carries a moving allegory on hope. It tells a story of how the candles, peace, faith and love have all been extinguished in Zimbabwe but hope still burns with a weak flame and if Zimbabweans would lift it up they could relight peace, faith and love to shine again.

Last week`s WOZA action in the tiny town of Filabusi is a significant pointer to how widely their cause is taken up and how much hope is left even in the most beleaguered corners of Zimbabwe.

When WOZA women were arrested on the recent school fees demonstrations in Bulawayo, UK supporters made phone calls to the police stations holding them. They urged the police to treat their captives with respect and asked them whether they had kids in school and were finding it difficult to cope with fees. The response was surprising. While some officers were brusque and dismissive the majority sounded quite sympathetic. They hastened to reassure callers that the women were receiving food from friends and that they would be released soon and some even intimated that WOZA was doing a good job because school fees were indeed too high and things were getting tough. Behind the stern face of the ruthless state a little humanity was detected and it gave us hope. Moreover, despite being thousands of miles away from home we were engaging directly with `the enemy` and helping to spread WOZA`s message on the ground in Zimbabwe.

In Zimbabwe now, WOZA is a powerful symbol of hope. `We have set ourselves up as a litmus test to prove that the power of love can conquer the love of power,` say the women, `Tough Love from the grassroots is the solution to the crisis of governance in Zimbabwe. Our rulers need some discipline; who better to dish it out than the women!` WOZA has staged more than 35 protests since they began campaigning in 2003 and over 1000 WOZA women have been arrested and imprisoned for their efforts. And still they keep going.

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