In continuation with our International women`s day celebrations we interviewed Koliwe “Koko” Majama. She is a feminist, a sister, a mother, an activist, a journalist and a Zimbabwean.
Koko identifies just as a Zimbabwean without a prefix because according to Koko a woman in Zimbabwe deserves the title Zimbabwean with the prefix as the Zimbabwean struggles are without the gender label. Further into the interview Koliwe explains what she means and she uses the example of cross boarder traders and their struggle and how they contribute to the economy. She takes note of the differences of the faces of the Zimbabwean woman, strong, proud and full of hustle. She is particularly in awe of the hustle in the Zimbabwean woman. What this woman will do to feed her children, her family through this hustle and how she is inspired by her children. Koliwe herself is a mother of two children who inspire her. Koko says she wants to raise Zimbabweans who are capable and will make a contribution to their country. The interview with Koliwe is one that puts into perspective what it means to be a woman in Zimbabwe.
Professionally, Koliwe is a Journalist at Media Institute of Southern Africa, MISA. She talks about how far women in media have come and how there is not a lot of female leadership in media. Koliwe talks about a few fellow media professionals who are doing exceptional work like Faith Zaba, Ropafadzo Mapimidze and Ruvheneko. She is also fascinated by women in politics. She wishes that they stop being called women in politics and just be politicians. She recons that the way to do this is to go beyond gender by having a gender neutral agenda that serves all people.
Koliwe is in awe of the ever evolving Zimbabwean woman, her use of the internet as a tool for self-expression being done on social media. She however noted that there is a need to be careful when using the internet as a tool. This tool has the capacity to influence the younger generation and how the younger generation perceives the older one.
As an activist Koliwe`s goal is to contribute to the broader struggle for a liberated Zimbabwe. She is motivated by the fact that despite her gender she is part of a movement and her contribution maters. She wants to help make Zimbabwe a place where gender is not a factor in success and success is not measured on account of gender. Koliwe wishes to be at par with her colleagues both on a personal and professional level. She calls this being heard and mattering.
“The difference that you make in the community or society you live in is what should motivate you…”
Koliwe volunteers with young women and sex workers and she is motivated by both groups. She is aware that both groups are very different and should be approached as such. She gives the example of a rural woman and the barriers she faces. Koliwe says literacy levels in Zimbabwe are high but literacy according to Koliwe goes beyond reading and writing. To her, literacy means being able to decipher how one matters on a national or communal level and how to think differently. She says that this is a need in light of the upcoming 2018 elections and talks about how campaigns like #shevotes2018 should add this to their agenda.
Gender Equality to Koliwe is the recognition of women as ordinary citizens because of how women are capable. Linda and Maureene Kademana are examples of such as they are social activists at the fore front, both working to change the Zimbabwean narrative. Koliwe says that females are great leaders as evidenced by the progress by the civil society sector that has many female leaders on various causes.
We end the interview with Koliwe`s advise to the young Zimbabwean she says,
“the young Zimbabwean needs access to critical information and this can be done through taking initiative, reading, researching, forming an opinion and taking the lead.”