BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
A BULAWAYO-based non-governmental organisation has honoured the city’s unsung heroines credited with pioneering women’s activism in the country, a departure from the past where leading persons are honoured after death.
It has become standard practice where the role played by the country’s heroes and heroines is remembered when they pass away, particularly those that participated in the liberation struggle.
This has seen many questioning some of the records detailing the role of the fallen heroes and heroines as there is little or distorted literature about the country’s past.
Critics argue that a number of bogus characters lie buried at the National Heroes Acre and other provincial shrines while deserving people have had their remains interred at private cemeteries.
The NGO, Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (Wild), said it is in this light that it celebrated the city’s surviving unsung heroes to “inspire a culture of honouring our surviving heroes.”
“We decided to honour these pioneering women after realisation that it is through their sacrifice and hard work that young women are able to demand their rights freely without prejudice,” Wild director Samukeliso Khumalo said at the event.
The Wild is a women’s rights group.
“When these women began their activism, the society was very chauvinistic where male administrators and duty bearers found no value in discussing service delivery with women.
“This did not deter these women and they spoke truth to power, even to the then Rhodesian government ministers and administrators.”
The Wild honoured Constance Mabusela, Mildred Mnkandla and Patricia Tshabalala with certificates for their role in women’s activism.
Mnkandla, also a Zapu member for years, has an educational history that starts at Hope Fountain more than six decades ago, defying odds to obtain her PhD at the age of 70.
Her profile shows that she was key in building a critical mass of ordinary women across the continent to claim their rights to education, health and economic empowerment.
Tshabalala, also a political activist, was honoured for her role in fighting for the rights of abused and disadvantaged children in the city’s high-density suburbs.
“Activism runs in my blood. It all started during my days at school when I used to lead other students in protests,” Tshabalala said.
Tshabalala is the founder and director of Vulindela Guardians Orphans Care, a charity organisation that looks after orphans and vulnerable children launched in 1996.
Mabusela is regarded as one of the champions and pioneers of the women’s movement in Zimbabwe.
Her profile shows that she continues to impart her knowledge on the history of the women’s movement in Zimbabwe on the young generation, having started women’s activism decades ago.