JASS Blog Archives for June 2011

by Daysi Yamileth Flores Hernández on June 28, 2011 on 6:30 pm

when the heart becomes brave . . . every dimension is transformed 

It is difficult to reconcile bravery and the heart, but it is more challenging to separate this relationship from romantic love and even more complicated to relate it to the political life of a people: Honduras.

Words cannot always capture the complex and delicate nature of our transformations, and yet at the same time, it’s hard to keep them within us.

On June 28, 2009, all of the dimensions of our lives were changed because of the coup d’état. What might have appeared to take place from one day to the next was brewing, in my view, since the very beginning of democratic life in the 1980s. A moment at which, paradoxically and in a parallel fashion to present times, the voices of creativity and revolution were silenced through blood, torture, and disappearances.

Such a large fissure in foundations of democracy in a country generates wounds of all kinds in the lives of those who live there. As La Papu says, “One cannot put Band-Aids on these wounds.” Added to this trauma is the sum of hunger, beatings, gassings, torture, exile, loss, disillusionment, betrayal, exhaustion, and disenchantment.

Perhaps similar to the grandmothers’ magic powder which heals sores—words and actions that awaken hope and a drive for change appear on our horizons. So we took to the streets, our lives became paralyzed in order to defend what is ours. We do so with our entire bodies, minds, hands, souls, tenderness, love, hope, and everything we have within our reach just as we have always done. But now, we must also defend that which we thought we had already achieved, that which was stolen from us, that which they harmed . . . ‘democracy.’

It’s easy to say that some things have changed for the better in two years. But the reality is, we cannot forget the human rights violations, the steps taken to legitimize armed violence through a newly installed military draft that shows its olive drabness everywhere, the pawning of the natural resources we have left, the assassinations of women and men comrades-in-arms, the rapes committed while in uniform and without uniform on our sisters in the struggle; the cutting down of the ‘flowers of difference,’ and of course, in the style of J. Goebbels, the spreading of lies in order to generate illusions, a sort of “they lived happily ever after” myth.

These illusions put all of us at risk—the denial, the forgetfulness, and the cat-like chieftains and opportunists who always land on their feet. The same people who take ownership of the “truth” to justify their means with their “ends” with no understanding that the means are also the ends; with no conception that democracy should be participatory, inclusive, characterized by solidarity, feminist ideologies, diversity, and openness. The lack of awareness of the true experiences of our people sustains this static and harmful reality.

Now, we need to protect life—physical, emotional, creative, environmental. We also need to protect hope and build alternative spaces which permit us to continue to sow the seeds of liberty, without forgetting to put in practice all that we have learned. In giving back what we gain from our experiences, we build stronger foundations and nurture our movements. And so the Resistance is born from thousands of brave hearts who yearn for a good life and a better world.

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by Dudziro Nhengu on June 16, 2011 on 10:34 am

8:00 a.m Zimbabwe time.

At Charge Office Flea Market, where we have learnt skills to multiply the dollar for daily survival, there are stacks and stacks of second hand clothes, and unopened bales too. We can’t afford the bales, so we shuffle through the heaps of old clothes to find better looking jackets and blouses that the 'queens' sell for a dollar for two items. We will resell these at a dollar each in Epworth, a semi-rural settlement on the outskirts of Harare where residents will grab almost anything that comes from the city. We sell just to get enough for the following day, and remain with the revolving capital for tomorrow's order—bread for children's sandwiches, a bunch of green veggies and tomatoes for supper, bus fare for school children, and of course two dollars for Precious, my daughter. She has to buy a scone and cool drink at school like the other girls lest she dates the kombi drivers (emergency taxi drivers) for it and gets pregnant—let alone HIV/AIDS. Bang! My heart beats fast, my head aches, I’m feeling hot all over, and want to faint. There is so much fear inside me. What if she....? What if...??? Why am I a mother in such a difficult environment?

And suddenly I remember Tariro’s encouraging words.

‘Be strong Kudzo. It will be over soon. We are all in this world for a purpose, and there are moments we can’t escape.’

I find so much warmth in Tariro. Besides pronouncing my name with an 'o' instead of an 'i' at the end because of her foreign accent, Tariro gives me strength and reason for living each day. No moralising, no quick judgments, just realistic and down to earth.

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The clothes in the stacks smell so much.

'But why do the clothes smell this much?' Lillian asks, bending and shuffling.

'I don’t know and I don’t care Lillian, I just want the good ones. Somebody told me about a chemical that they spray to preserve the clothes.'

'Kunyepa, mapeche enyu ndiwo anonhuwa' (You lie, it is your vaginas that smell). Male voice.

I pick myself up from the bending position and before I realise he is a policeman, I have already slapped him hard on the face. His police hat falls down and as he bends to pick it up—KICK!—from the back. He bites the ground and groans. A crowd is gathering, and I am getting confused, and hot, and mad, mad, mad!

Another kick, and the policeman lies face and tummy down. Somebody nudges me.

‘Run!! There is going to be a scene.’

People are gathering, I hold Lillian’s hand and we run. We run, no looking back, through the crowds, we run, run, run. At Karigamombe, we jump into a taxi.

‘Please take us to Mbare, quick.’

‘Five dollars!’

We throw ten dollars on his lap and he takes off. We are safe.

Inside Mupedzanhamo we buy the dollar for 2 items and quickly change into them. We have to be safe.

Then we board a kombi back Home, straight from Mbare. No more town, no more charge office. No orders—our money is almost finished.

1:24 p.m. Zimbabwe time.

I am changing clothes after showering. I have to go back to town. There is a JASS get-together with Sally. I can’t miss it despite my fear to go back to town. And Sally re-awakens me, so I have to go.

I board a kombi at Westlea shops. As I pass on my coin to the conductor, he looks at me in stitches!

'Why are you laughing?' I ask.

'But ambuya (madam), why did you beat that policeman?’

My heart kicks but at least he is laughing.

'He insulted me.'

'But how ambuya, you were not the only woman around the flea market, and the women there get that vagina curse everyday.'

'But I am not an ordinary woman, I am a vagina warrior!'

More stitches. I look at the woman besides me, our eyes meet and lock, and we laugh.

Life goes on.

‘We are on this earth for a purpose Kudzo. It will soon be over.’

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