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Spotlight on the I Stories booklet - Interview with Innocent Kasiyano, SCMZ
Zanele Manhenga,
February 24, 2010

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Innocent KasiyanoWhy did you put the I Stories Booklet together?
The booklet was put together from a desire to record young peoples experiences during the governance crisis in Zimbabwe. As you are aware, at the Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe (SCMZ), we work with young Christians from tertiary institutions and communities throughout the country. So we had seen for a long time young people suffering from the crisis of governance and from the crisis of leadership, which has bedevilled Zimbabwe for the past decade. So the desire was to provide a platform for young people to speak out on issues that have been affecting them in their daily lives. Listen

What are some are the highlights of the booklet?
Basically there are eight stories in the 21-page booklet. The 8 stories touch diverse issues ranging from HIV/AIDS to the lack of freedoms within the tertiary institutions and in the greater community. There are also issues to do with the torture and suffering of young people at the hands of the state security agencies. There are issues to do with leadership generally, violence, conflict resolution and peace building. So I would say that the issues are very diverse depending on the speaker or the interviewee.

What are some of the challenges that students are currently facing in Zimbabwe?
They range from political, to social and economic. I would say on the political side there is the lack of freedom of speech, of association and the lack of general academic freedoms in Zimbabwe. On the economic side there is the continued deterioration of the economy. Most students have been surviving from hand to mouth. Then on the social scene there is a lack of accommodation, and getting a decent meal in the student fraternity. Listen

How long did it take to put the booklet together?
It took us two and half months to put it together. We went into the communities to reach students. We started with Harare where we visited institutions like Belvedere Teachers College and the University of Zimbabwe. Then we also went to Gweru; to MSU and Gweru Teachers College. In Bulawayo we targeted tertiary institutions like Hillside Teachers College, NUST and UCE.

What challenges did you face in putting together the booklet?
There were quite a number of challenges that were faced. At first young people were not so keen to share their experiences. The young were very sceptical about the whole process. The second challenge was that that the school authorities were not so keen to have interviews conducted on their premises but we managed to convince everyone to get onboard.

How was the booklet received when it was launched?
The launch was so great! The reception included many different stakeholders ranging from people from the Ministry of Youth, different civil society organisations and even representatives from the Embassies.

What is your vision for Zimbabwe?
The I Story Booklet's aim was to create a platform were we encourage dialogue and debate within the young peoples community and to also advocate to policy formulating institutions and policy formulating authorities. We wanted to expose the harsh realities young people have faced for the last decade. So our vision for Zimbabwe is a peaceful Zimbabwe where young people enjoy peace in the country, a good education system and a Zimbabwe where there is tolerance. Listen

One of the reasons you put together the booklet was because you want to see young people healing. Have you had students coming to you to say that they have healed?
The students themselves who were featured in the 'I' Stories Booklet have actually given feedback to say at first they weren't so keen to discuss their issues with anyone. But when they went through the interview with us they managed to release the pressure and anger, which was inside them. I would say that this is quite encouraging feedback from the students who were featured in the booklet.

Is this a once off project?
This has been a pilot phase. This is our first time as an institution to have a publication of this nature and with the reception and encouragement, which we've received; I think we will consider producing more publications.

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Audio File

  • Why the I Stories booklet
    Language: English
    Duration: 39sec
    Date: February 24, 2010
    File Type: MP3
    Size: 621KB

  • Challenges facing students
    Language: English
    Duration: 56sec
    Date: February 24, 2010
    File Type: MP3
    Size: 883KB

  • Vision for Zimbabwe
    Language: English
    Duration: 45sec
    Date: February 24, 2010
    File Type: MP3
    Size: 714KB

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