LOUD WHISPERS: Lessons From Hannah

I have an older friend who is from Zimbabwe. I will call her Hannah. She fought in the Zimbabwe liberation war in the 1970s. Then she was a young girl, but she experienced things people thrice her age could not even imagine. When the war was over and Zimbabwe became an independent nation State in 1980, she managed to go back to school to train as a Social Worker. The political movement she had served all her life was now in power through the political party ZANU-PF. Things got a bit better for people in her country, but not for women. Women were still the poorest of the poor. Women were still victims of gender-based violence. Women could not inherit land. Women did not have much of a voice in decision making. The liberation struggles in the frontline states in the 1970s and 80s – South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, Angola and others caused massive upheavals in the Southern Africa region. This helped aid the spread of HIV/AIDS, as people moved from one part of the region to another, fleeing conflict as refugees or looking for work as migrants. When the HIV/AIDS pandemic hit, not only were women the most vulnerable to infection, they were the ones who had to care for sick members of their families. Entire households were wiped out, often leaving frail grandmothers to look after grandchildren, or worse still, children looking after children. Hannah and women like her had their hands full. When I was at the African Women’s Development Fund, I visited several projects in the Southern African region that we had funded to address the role of women who were fighting the HIV/AIDS crisis.

During the liberation struggles, women were told that once the colonial masters were dislodged, they would all, men and women alike, live together in peace and harmony as free citizens. It was a lie and a great con.  Hannah became a Member of Parliament. However, she refused to toe the party line all the time. She did not want to do business as usual. She wanted the government to be accountable to the people, especially women. Many of the people she was in parliament with had not been freedom fighters. They had not seen women raped and abused in the guerilla camps. They had been studying in elite schools abroad during the liberation wars. When all was safe and good, they came back home and rode to power on the back of a struggle women like Hannah had almost lost their lives for. They did not understand why Hannah was always ‘angry’, and ‘stubborn’. Why could she not be like the other women, quiet and amenable? Hannah left the comfort of her familiar political terrain and joined the opposition. That was around the time I met her for the first time, at a leadership conference for African women which took place in South Africa. Leaving the safety of her old party left Hannah vulnerable to attacks. She was hounded, arrested, and put through all kinds of humiliation. All this did not deter Hannah. She decided to focus her energies on her civil society activities, whilst at the same time trying to influence government policies.

Full Reading in Loud Whispers cover final


 Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com




Source: AboveWhispers.com

Sign up for Updates

15 Responses to LOUD WHISPERS: Lessons From Hannah

  1. Utibe August 23, 2016 at 8:01 am

    Thank you for this Ma. It’s an eye opening and inspiring piece of advice for we the younger generation of womenfolk to keep pushing & never stop till we shatter all glass ceilings.

  2. Olakunle Olajide August 23, 2016 at 8:34 am

    Really, it is a battle to get to the top for women, but i see this already changing. It is just a matter of time before women start gaining grounds in the political arena. One characteristic i know about women is their resilience.The old men have failed us and i would also fight the battle to see women leaders and like you rightly said, not the corrupt ones that are already in the game.

  3. Legzycool August 23, 2016 at 8:38 am

    This is a great piece. We want to see women take part in decision making as they are also affected, so they know the areas to touch as well. But come to think of it, what about the youths? Is there no place for the youths in politics? Is Nigerian politics now a family business? My dear country needs a serious sanitation.

  4. DSEED August 23, 2016 at 8:52 am

    It is a real lesson to learn from. I remembered some months ago, a friend asked me if I have interest in politics? I told him I have always wish to be a famous politician but don’t think I will be going into it anymore because of the unbearable act in our present political state. I was later encouraged that nothing good comes easy and also I can be there to make a different as the writer has said.

  5. Olowolafe Olanrewaju August 23, 2016 at 9:00 am

    When it come to politics I normally celebrate women who have put there best into politics. All we need more is to be courageous.

  6. Femi Diipo August 23, 2016 at 9:34 am

    Reading this got me thinking, what if what we really need in Nigeria are women leaders. Those who go through life constantly making sacrifices for others, this who will put ego aside and work for the peace of this nation, those who understand pain, poverty, molestation and all the suffering of the masses. I know I won’t vote against a woman president in this country

  7. D'apoet August 23, 2016 at 9:40 am

    I know in time all these shall happen. Women will be in power as much as men, maybe even more. I only hope they’ll get it right where the male counterparts lost it in leadership and politics

  8. olaluv August 23, 2016 at 10:22 am

    The women leaders we need now are people like Hannah. Who as been in war front, who do not seek the interest of herself, who knows what it takes as a young girl to fight for the right of her nation and not those who were not there when the bads are happening but were afar off.

  9. lanfem. August 23, 2016 at 10:39 am

    I think is high time women stood to face reality about life. We should stop complaining about the leadership, let us take charge. When we are talking about women we want in politics not those that can’t even manage their homes. We have those that have done it in past and we can also do it better.

  10. precious August 23, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    its really going to be great the country get to that stage were women will be making decisions in a county like Nigeria that will surly lead to the aid of development

  11. Henry August 23, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    women should be given the chance to lead in the country that could bring the change we need in the country

  12. Harryrrah August 23, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    This write up is really for me, I have always loved politics but the fact that am a woman keeps compelling me to step back. This write up has given me impetus for action, now I know what to do.

  13. Ebonychyqui2 August 23, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Women are very important in every society and should be given the opportunity to atleast hold a reasonable post in every society. We deserve the best!

  14. Bamisebi Toluwalope August 26, 2016 at 9:20 am

    My view, as much as we want women to take up leadership position in our country, we want women like Hannah in this article, we want women dat will fight for the right of the people, we want women that will stand up for the people and not the selfish ones that will take over power for her selfish reasons.
    Women are indeed important in the society but only when we find the good ones, the diligents ones, the faithful ones can we enjoy the rule of women in power. I pray for a nation free of bribery and corruption ijn

  15. zasie August 29, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    Dedication and commitment is very necessary for any one aspiring to do anything. I am not interested in politics, but i will certainly send this to my peers who are interested in it


Leave a Reply to olaluv Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of new posts by email.