On February 2014, as tens of thousands of women around the world took part in events to protest violence against women and girls under the One Billion Rising banner, Hivos Partner Pamberi Trust held a series of solidarity events as part of their Sistaz Open Mic project.
The global One Billion Rising events, most of which were held on Valentine’s Day, February 14, were part of the Rise for Justice campaign which is a call to women survivors of violence to “break the silence and release their stories – politically, spiritually, outrageously – through art, dance, marches, ritual, song, spoken word, testimonies and other ways that are comfortable and empowering for them.”
Sistaz Open Mic, a performance platform for female singers, musicians, dancers and spoken word artists in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, held a series of events as their part in the campaign in partnership with One Billion Rising co-ordinators in Zimbabwe.
These began on February 8 with an open mic session at the iconic Book Café, where young female artists sang and recited poetry denouncing violence against women. Among them was rising star Selmor Mtukudzi, daughter of Zimbabwe’s most well-known musician, Oliver Mtukudzi.
On February 11, an exhibition featuring photos from different risings held in 2013 around the world, along with artwork by Christine Ndoro, Nompilo Nkomo and Catherine Makaya, was opened at the Book Café.
The exhibition embodied hope in many ways, and this was aptly summarised by the organisers: “Christine rises by holding on to hope of a world where love just ‘is’. Nompilo is a happy, spirited young woman with malformed hands who paints with her feet, and who believes that ‘everything under the sun is possible if we believe.’ The third exhibitor, young, jubilant Catherine, has something that needs to be said about the world she lives in, and the woman she is rising to be.”
The last event, on February 13, was a public discussion that looked at the shortcomings of the justice system when it comes to dealing with cases of abuse and rape.
On February 14, many of the young women from Sistaz Open Mic joined other women from Harare for the main One Billion Rising event, a one hour dance-a-thon at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.
As they showed solidarity with the global movement, the same thing was being repeated in three other centres in Zimbabwe (Bulawayo, Mutare and Bindura). In other countries in the Southern African region where Hivos has a presence, namely, South Africa, Malawi and Zambia the same solidarity was witnessed.