Tag Archives: Matriarchy

My Motherland, My Zimbabwe by Rutendo Wazara

When Kay and Thandie first asked me to write about Zimbabwe, I was excited, proud even, to share my love for my country and my people. Though my excitement soon turned to dread as I thought, “how can I do justice to a country that I had not lived in for fifteen years?”. 

Similarly to Thandie, my father’s job took our family away from Zimbabwe when I was young. We lived in Botswana, Nigeria and eventually settled in South Africa. I have lived most of my life outside of Zimbabwe yet have never felt that Zimbabwe was too far from me. My mother, my aunts and the women in my life passed down Zimbabwe through practice and creed. My identity as a Zimbabwean woman is a reflection of these women, who represented to me an ideal of exceptional Zimbabwean womanhood.


Family is so important to a Zimbabwean and our understanding of it is limitless. I was always surrounded by cousins, aunts, uncles, and people of whom I am still unsure of our relation. I learnt from my mother that the most important people in your life are your family, a value I have come to make my own.

slide1For myself, my aunts are never ‘auntie’ but ‘mamma’.

In the Shona language, the words we have for ‘aunt directly translate as ‘older mother’ or ‘younger mother’, depending on their relation to your parents. In many senses, besides etymology, they are an extension of your mother. The English word ‘aunt’ does not truly reflect the deepness of the connection.

And it is from all my mothers that I learnt what it is to be a successful woman.

They set an inspiring example as entrepreneurs, distinguished intellectuals, and pillars of their respective communities. More than anything, however, their love for each other proves that an African woman can have it all- without tearing down other women or compromising her integrity- we all could benefit from learning that.

My mother was an actress, teacher, pastor, and scholar. She particularly was responsible for teaching me what it meant to take pride in where I came from. She read me stories of great Zimbabwean activists before bedtime, and told me to be myself, that for my ‘Zimbabweaness’ alone I was already unique. She encouraged me to express my heritage in my writing, art, style, and even in my research-to become a walking articulation of where I come from.

My ‘grandmothers’ are also to me more than what this term denotes. As with ‘aunts’, your grandparents’ siblings are also your grandparents, extending you familial system to your great-aunts and great-uncles and beyond and my grandmothers played a practical role in teaching me what it means to be a Shona woman. Gogo Wazara, my father’s mother, handed down to me a proficiency in sweeping and bed making and the gift of storytelling. My maternal grandmother, Gogo Esther, taught me the skill of conversation and the integral art of tea making.

I was fortunate enough to know all four of my great grandmothers and I know what I mean when I say that there is wealth in knowledge. Their collective life experience is a rich volume of Zimbabwean history including a tumultuous civil war and the story of our liberation. While their struggle may always remain a mystery to me, that they were able to see generations of their family, the fruit of their labour for freedom, makes my heart swell with love and humility.

There is a temptation to be insecure about the fact that I have been so long away from Zimbabwe but I was brought up to know that Zimbabweans carry our country with us and we share it with others. I am Zimbabwean because of the instruction, guidance and nurturing of those who call me their own and who I call mine.


Rutendo Wazara is currently studying a PhD in Elephant Behaviour and Welfare and working at a career in Veterinary Conservation. Follow her Instagram here and Twitter here

 

Matriarchy Now!

Post by Rose Bell

When a woman has a collapsing mother construct within her psyche and/or her culture, she is wobbly about her worth”  Clarissa Pinkola Estés 

‘Woman Who Run With The Wolves’.

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thandiekay.com Matriarchy Now hoodie

 

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It can be easy to look at matriarchy and patriarchy as two opposing forces, as if it was either one or the other, but I realized that it was the force of this binary way-of-thinking that was giving my notion of ‘matriarchy’ its limited definition.

I understand now that it is possible to alter the way we view a matriarchy, and what it itself might look like in action.

“The soul of our politics is the commitment to ending domination.”
Bell Hooks, Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 15.09.09is a slogan to be constantly re-defined. It is both a call to arms for the future, and an acknowledgement that there is, and always has been, a matriarchy existing in any moment.

“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.” Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Matriarchy Now! is about understanding and reaching the boundless potential of women: the matriarchy being a global collective of female togetherness, one that isn’t something that can be squished into the linear structures of mainstream society.

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Rose Bell is an artist, living and working in South East London. Her dog is called Clifford and she is heavily influenced and in awe of these people:

Rosalie Schweiker
Febrik
Karen Green
Helene Cixous
Alice and Sheila Munro

Buy the MATRIARCHY NOW sweatshirt here

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