THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector


Back to Index

Candle wielding women of WOZA warms hearts!
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
November 17, 2003

WOZA resolved 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 16 November.

Women gathered 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 prices.

Zimbabweans 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 hearts!

Many of you sent messages of solidarity, which were read out, and much appreciated. Thank You!

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.

Aluta continua

(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 sheet

Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.