Her Zimbabwe recently caught up with news anchor for SABC 2’s Morning Live Arts Bulletin on the weekends, Tumi Sedumedi (29), to find out her impressions of women’s organising in Zimbabwe, and also how she feels young Zimbabweans and South Africans can begin to work together beyond the divides of xenophobia and distrust. It was an informal and impromptu conversation and we’d love to have had more time to get to the heart of the issues discussed. The following is a transcript of the discussion.
Fungai Machirori (FM):Thank you Tumi for joining us.
Tumi Sedumedi (TS): You are welcome. Thank you for having me.
FM: So maybe I could just ask the question. What have been your impressions as a South African woman about women’s organising in Zimbabwe?
TS: I don’t think I have that much access to information about women’s organising in Zimbabwe. As a result, I am not aware of the formal structures, but I am aware of how committed women in Zimbabwe are to being recognised as equals. I am aware of how passionate they are, and how involved they are in these movements that I don’t know much about. So far, what I am aware of is what I have seen people express and not what is organised.
FM: And how do you think that differs from what you have seen in South Africa?
TS: A lot. Totally a lot. I don’t know if it’s because of our different state of affairs, or if it is the difference in what we have access to. But nothing really matters to a young South African woman.
FM: Nothing really matters? What do you mean by that?
TS: We don’t have anything that drives us out of bed besides the nine-to-five, just because we need to put food on the table. Nothing drives us to strive for better. Nothing drives us to want more of the things that matter in life. If you have a group of young women in South Africa at a gathering for any cause, it has to be a fashion movement or a modeling agency or a girls’ video pusher. It has to be something that facilitates something that won’t be so meaningful five years down the line.
It’s the reason why people chase entertainment in South Africa rather than the good things. You’re 28 and you tell me about how you sit on a board of a certain movement. No 28-year-old speaks like that where I come from.
There are businesswomen, but do their businesses fight to make their lives, and the lives of others better? I don’t know. We are about a lot of things in South Africa, but very different things from what you are about.
FM: So are you saying that from what you have observed, Zimbabwean women seem to have a stronger social consciousness than what you are seeing in South Africa?
TS: A stronger political consciousness, a stronger social consciousness, a stronger economic consciousness. Women in Zimbabwe are driven. Women in Zimbabwe are involved in their lives. Women in Zimbabwe want to better the lives of girls. Women here want to take it a step further. Women in Zimbabwe don’t speak for the sake of being seen. They want to be heard so that what they say can take someone a step further.
I also respect how well-spoken women in Zimbabwe are. A lot of the times, I have things I want to express but I don’t even know how to express them myself, so at a lot of the time I am taken aback and moved by how well young women speak in Zimbabwe.
FM: So what would you say has changed because from what I understand about South Africa, during apartheid there was a strong consciousness. There were a lot of women involved in bringing about the end of apartheid. So, post-1994, what has happened with cultivation of young women to continue the movement and the consciousness?
TS: Nothing. Nothing at all. You have young women who are involved in these parties that used to be catalysts for change who have nothing to unite for, or against. The struggles have changed; of course they have. The white man is no longer the beast we fight against; we have new struggles such as AIDS, oppression of young women, sexual violence… but no one seems to think it’s their business until it happens to them. The only time we get women meeting up to talk about these problems is when they are personally affected. Beyond that, no one is really talking about it. At least that’s what I have observed.
FM: That’s very interesting. I think it gives us food for thought as young Zimbabwean women who sometimes feel that our own efforts are not perhaps enough, or are not moving things. Could you give us a closing thought about how you think between and across borders, with all the tension between Zimbabwe and South Africa, that young women could overcome the stigma and stereotypes that we have about each other to come together and build each other up?
TS: It’s a long way. I think borders work against us as much as they work for us. Before I came to Zimbabwe, my perception of Zimbabwe was that it was behind us, you know. It turns out to be ahead of us.
Tenfold, ten steps… in any way that you can think of, it’s ahead of us. And maybe the place to start is by taking the voices of Zimbabwe to South Africa more, and vice versa. That would be a great place to start as young girls in South Africa need inspiration; need to sit in their corners and start thinking, need to get out of that space where they think everything is done and taken care of.
Movements need to be inspired. And I think Zimbabweans can do a lot of that for South African girls and women.
FM: Wow. Thank you so much for your time and thank you so much for watching. We’ll see you in our next insert.