When Her Zimbabwe launched last year, one of its targets was to reach Zimbabweans abroad. And if our social media following is anything to go by, we have managed to do just that. Of our over 4 000 Facebook followers, half are based in Zimbabwe with the other half being people in South Africa, the UK, the US, Canada and other nations that conform to Zimbabweans’ general migratory destinations.
This has made the discussions and debates that Her Zimbabwe holds quite enriching and enlightening for what we constantly get are perspectives from Zimbabweans across various realities and spaces. And in many ways, we get to understand each other better through these real-time lateral exchanges of views and opinions.
But one of the challenges, of course, of being a platform based in the physical and geographical location of Zimbabwe, is that what we see, experience and thereby document is a by-product of what and who we are exposed to. Conversations therefore become more about Zimbabweans abroad understanding Zimbabweans within Zimbabwe, and not much of the other way around.
With this relaunch, we are trying – as Zimbabweans in the locality of the land – to extend our perspective by listening to different voices, to the voices of Zimbabweans outside our borders.
Them and us
It is a poignant time in our country to extend ourselves in this way; as elections approach at the end of the month, the division between a ‘them’ and an ‘us’ become greatly pronounced. There are those who can vote, and those who cannot, mostly by virtue of what physical space they currently inhabit.
And so we are reaching into the metaphorical interpretation of space and ownership. The domain www.herzimbabwe.co.zw is a territory, as it were; a land of its own. And in that territory, we are all Zimbabwean in our diverse experiences of this identity.
You will find some great perspectives from some of Zimbabwe’s women in this re-launch edition of content; The Noisettes singer Shingai Shoniwa gives us some important food for thought about the othering of Zimbabweans in the diaspora, while writer NoViolet Bulawayo shares how she’s kept Zimbabwe alive within her in the 13 years since she has been based outside its physical borders. We also hear from women going through life changes; turning 40, moving on after a traumatic break up.
In this extension to think beyond physical space, we have also opened the door for other women of our continent to enter our conversations. With the launch of the ‘Her Africa’ section, we are committing to listening to our continent’s women; to learning, sharing and reflecting.
Uganda’s Anne Kansiime challenges us to think beyond the comfort of conventionality, while Kenya’s Muthoni Njogu revels in a new love for her body; a body that exists and expresses itself within a heavily proscribed environment. South Africa’s Tumi Sedumedi reflects on how women in her nation, and women in Zimbabwe, can replace the dominant discourse of xenophobia and superiority/ inferiority by interacting and engaging with each other. And Sandra Forlemu challenges us to imagine Africaness in ways that encompass other signifiers beyond language.
We also invite men into discussion with us, as we always do. And we are happy to have men who are willing to engage critically with issues that are all too often swept under the societal carpet upon which the defense of culture treads. Joe Black reveals the contradictions of a feminism that is homophobic, while Tonderai Chiyindiko tackles male chauvinism in all its bareness. Jephter Tsamwi reminds us that men need to be active members of gendered discourse, and Carl Joshua Ncube shows us that the kitchen is a space that men can occupy comfortably.
We also have perspectives from women engaging with the realities of life in the physical space of Zimbabwe; Tino Hondo who provides an analysis of the book ‘Shemurenga’ which charts women’s organising in Zimbabwe in the late 1990s, as well as Winnet Shamuyarira who brings to the fore the ways in which new media is altering expressions of women’s sexuality.
This is an exciting line up of stories; a solid menu of reads we hope you will enjoy consuming.
Through these words, and many more, we will continue to discuss, dismantle and disrupt.