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Inside/Out with Sekai Holland, peace activist, optimist and friend of many despite keeping them waiting
April 08, 2013

Describe yourself in five words?
Five! Honest, Proud, Happy, Reliable, Loyal, Confident, Hard worker - in the context of my family as a wife (partner to my spouse Jim), granddaughter, daughter, niece, sister, aunt, mother, grandmother, mother in law, etc. In the context of my political life as an activist in the political parties and in the context of my social responsibilities locally in Zimbabwe, in the region and internationally.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
From my Mum: Whenever I was upset by any situation as I grew up I was comforted by two sets of advice from my Mum. The first piece of advice was ‘Count your many blessings and name them one by one’ and she would get me to count these with her. My eyes, hands, feet etc. Use what you have and you will achieve your goals.

The next piece of advice when I got into my teens was ‘Never ever in your life fight for three things’ and she would tell me the same three items throughout my teens. These were never fight for food. You can actually grow your own food and eat better. Learn now how to grow food. We tended a large garden on our home premises and Mum kept fowls of different types, rabbits and our parents raised us when we were a bit older on a purchase area small holding where Dad brought in cattle which we were taught to milk, goats, sheep and pigs as well as different types of small animals and fowls.

Mum went on to emphasise never fight for a job. Establish your own business/institution where you provide employment for yourself and others.

And never fight another woman for a man’s affections. Walk out and you will always find another probably better match.

From Jim, my husband: You must keep on course. Never give up.

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever done?
Remaining deeply politically engaged at my age.

What is your most treasured possession?
Our home.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
When Mum died in 2005, and then when Dad died at the age of 97 last year.

Do you have any strange hobbies?
Preparing our grandchildren mentally and practically for life if ever they survive a catastrophic climate change disaster, which would change life as they know it today on the planet.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
I like that all that I have physically works so well that I am still functioning even when with difficulty today.

What is your greatest extravagance?

What have you got in your fridge?
Vegetables and fruits from Mbare markets, baby food for the latest family member who turned one year on 2013 International Water Day, left overs packed for use in the meal the next day, water etc.

What is your greatest fear?
The failure by Zimbabweans as a people with all our diverse talents; the failure by us Zimbabweans across the racial, class, background, gender divides, to build a society (which we actually can do) that is inclusive and violence free where all have access to choice of education, adequate food, shelter, clothing and water etc. Where we are free to move around the country, associate, speak with whomever we choose and can express ourselves however we feel.

What have you got in your pockets right now?
I wear clothes without pockets!

What is your favourite journey?
To Bulawayo, Mberengwa and Godhlwayo where I grew up.

Who are your heroes in real life?
My first real life hero is Jim my husband. The other real life heroes include my parents and Jim’s parents who are my in-laws, our siblings and children and grandchildren. As well it is our aunties and uncles who co raised us, cousins that we grew up with us and our nephews and nieces all who form our extended family circle I find are real life heroes with their diverse stories of their daily struggles to survive today.

Outside my family circle it is our friends over the years on one hand, and on the other it is the women and men in our country who daily put their lives at risk in the fight in our country and those outside our country who fight daily to establish the culture of justice, peace, development and equality of all. These real heroes inspire me every day as Zimbabwe has these in abundance.

I must say that I am very inspired by our people at home and those in the Diaspora. With all the difficulty we as Zimbabweans face I find every time I meet Zimbabweans wherever Zimbabweans are, whatever their race, region of origin, Zimbabweans do amazing things around the world to get on with life.

I would say in conclusion our lifelong friends among the people of the Pacific, the first Australians, the impossible conditions imposed on their country by the settlers and the manner in which they have as a people fought and overcome to become an integral part of Australian society makes my friends in Australasia very special.

Harry Belafonte and Sydney Poitier through song and film as I grew up were my heroes, then came the African American activist class who have fought racism and brought a new era of equality among peoples of the world have also remained my heroes. Odetta, Mahalia Jackson, Marian Henderson, Fats Domino and others of that era around the period of Martin Luther King’s mission, all shaped our understanding of the possibilities for ourselves. Their allies, the Kennedy brothers, and others in that time stood together for a better life for all had a strong impact on me.

When and where were you happiest?
I am happiest at home after work, when visiting my parent’s ancestral homes where our extended families still live and work from. I am happiest visiting Jim’s family and our friends in Australia and New Zealand. These are scattered all over, with, for example, Jim’s Mum and his brother and maternal cousins in Canberra, his other siblings in Sydney, his god parents and their families in Sydney and Melbourne, our friends are all over Australia. I am happiest when I visit and revisit family and friends in these places.

What’s your biggest vice?
Always being late and keeping people waiting is my regrettable vice. My worst vice is my lifelong failure to focus on one activity per period of time. I have always done too many big things at the same time always causing confusion to those I work with as they try to work out why I am always late.

What were you like at school?
I was very inquisitive at primary school where I did very well. Secondary school was difficult but I was kept afloat by my realisation that to get to have a life I had to secure a life as an adult. I struggled and got the papers to get to university and beyond.

What are you doing next?
I am deeply engaged in the last stages of my education being a registered student at Tilburg University in the Netherlands in the new department of Social Responsibility named the ‘Marga Klompe’ Department of Social Responsibility. I am preparing myself for my retirement when I would like to work around university life with others to advance knowledge in Peace Studies, for without that state on our beautiful planet we may be working towards destroying this awesome intricate and complex existence to which we are but one very tiny component.

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