Back when our African leaders and freedom fighters were fighting for a universal humanism and basic rights, Thomas Sankara was also fighting for the equality of women. The Burkinabé revolutionary was everything I would imagine a freedom fighter should be – forward thinking, passionate and a believer in the intrinsic equality of all human beings. His quote, “I can hear the roar of women’s silence”, was enough to push me to start this blog. Interesting quote, isn’t it? I’m not entirely sure of what his own explanation of this quote was, but for me, it speaks to the silencing of women in my society. Particularly women of colour. Where the world of patriarchy and male supremacy hears silence, I hear roars. Big, scary, echoing, jarring, wholesome, inspiring lioness roars that shake me to my core.
As a young Zimbabwean woman, I often feel silenced. I also often feel as though I’m at war with the world. Every broken street light that lines my road, ruining thoughts of night strolls; every kombi driver that sexualizes me as I take a jog in the morning, every relative that thinks my lack of children and/or a husband means I must be damaged in some way; every political rally that portrays women as mothers and support structures but not as leaders in their own right; every snide comment made by the woman at the musika who thinks my jeans are too tight; every magazine that screams the normative standards of beauty – and leaves me out; every man that says no man is faithful and so I should forget about trusting mine; every international headline about my country that relegates me to the group of the helpless, victimized women. It’s exhausting really.
But through all this, I have heard the roar of women’s silence. I have seen women come together and march for the right to dignity and against the war on women’s bodies. I have seen them lead families with nothing but an informal trader’s sporadic income and a little faith in their hearts. I have seen them strut confidently to receive their degrees at graduation ceremonies. I have seen them embrace change, and adapt to technological advances and use them to their advantage. I have seen the kick patriarchy square in the balls, re-adjust their pencil skirts, and skip into the sunset.
In many ways, the roars are what I want to write about. I want to stick a megaphone in front of all the silenced women’s corners in society and let them speak for themselves. I want them to tell the story according to them, and through their lens. I want the Zimbabwean ear to be trained to hear what we say, and to engage with it. And lastly, I want my own voice to be heard, to be relevant and to make some sort of impact for the good.
*roars loudly, shakes mane*
Merci mille fois, Monsieur Sankara.