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wielding women of WOZA warms hearts!
Women of Zimbabwe
November 17, 2003
to organise a street march and all night prayer vigil on 15 November
2003 ahead of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches called National Day
of Prayer. The home base in Bulawayo went ahead but Harare had venue
problems and joined the combined service in Highfield on Sunday
under heavy rain clouds and with Riot Police presence throughout
the City. This is another sign that Zimbabwe is fast becoming a
police state. WOZA had been strategic in planning the event and
had split women up into three groups to march from different venues
to St Marys Cathedral in Lobengula Street Bulawayo. All three groups
had riot police in close proximity but they continued on with their
street prayer, lit their candles and took those daring steps in
defiance. None of our women were arrested! The main group less than
a block away from Central Police Station sang, "We are marching
in the light of the Lord" in all 3 languages as they marched.
Only three men
joined us - one a journalist, a Brother from the Jesuit order and
a democratically minded war veteran who was taking photographs.
We stopped briefly outside the state owned daily newspaper and propaganda
tool, The Chronicle and sang 'isiwile iBabylon' Babylon has fallen
but sometimes we insert 'Zimbabwe'. Although Journalists working
upstairs peered through their windows, we have so far seen no coverage
but continue to expect miracles.
As we marched
in the darkness, bystanders came to the pavements to watch us, some
joined in, motorists gave us respect by pulling off to the side
of the road. As we reached 9th Avenue where the Police are headquartered,
we saw another defender come towards us but it just drove past.
By then we could make out the impressive brick works of the Cathedral
up ahead, and the safety within and knew we would make it. We arrived
to a rousing welcome from our comrades within the Church and Father
Bernard soon arrived to open our night of prayer.
We had about
100 people, amongst us, Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons,
Methodists and Apostolic Faith members in their long white robes.
Most women wore their Church uniforms; there were green ones, white
ones, brown ones, pink ones, blue ones and some in plain clothes.
These women braved intimidation to undertake this activity. Here
is an example of the intimidation. The Entumbane delegation leader
had been visited by a man whom she did not know. This man told her
that he believed she was going to an all night prayer and that if
she went she would not come back alive. So the Entumbane became
fearful and did not attend. The rest of us attended and went home
alive and well but tired and hungry from the night up and fasting.
One of the most
important prayer interventions came from an Mpopoma woman who pleaded
with those present to be more specific in their prayers. She called
on us to with courage ask the lord to help us to remove the evil
men currently leading the country to ruin. She said that if we beat
about the bush our prayers would not be answered, as God knows that
it is only a few evil men perpetrating this insanity. God wanted
the truth to be spoken so we must 'tell it like it is in our prayers'.
And the truth came from women's mouths about the hunger and inability
to make ends meet. Even finding bus fare to attend is a challenge
for the community women who make up the participants. The next WOZA
demonstration will deal with the issue of food availability and
have long missed participating in peaceful demonstrations due to
the Public Order Security Act (POSA) and state intimidation. But
WOZA has seen it fitting to defy POSA and although 48 spent two
nights in the cells during the POSA defiance demo on 24 July, we
have since conducted two street demonstrations without paying the
slightest heed to POSA and the riot police at hand. WOZA was formed
to build courage in the women of Zimbabwe and their families. Participating
and speaking out on burning issues with WOZA is a form of national
service. So on Saturday, the candle-wielding women of WOZA warmed
Many of you
sent messages of solidarity, which were read out, and much appreciated.
Come rain, shine,
assaults or arrest, WOZA will participate with the Zimbabwe Congress
of Trade Unions day of protest on 18th November in Bulawayo and
Harare. A committee of women is being formed to coordinate the pots
and pans demo on 3 December 2003 and women throughout Zimbabwe are
encouraged to participate.
(p.s Note to
Editors. It takes as much courage to put foot to tarmac under the
eye of riot police as it takes to go through arrest and spend time
in custody, please provide fair coverage. It was sad to have journalists
call and say that it was not news if we were not arrested - is it
not news that WOZA have defied the police and so far won! Score
is 3:2 to WOZA).
Visit the Women
of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) fact
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