When the idea of this essay first came to me it was born of rage. A rage born of confusion. How can you treat a person with respect and kindness, with humanity, and they respond with, this? As a woman- a woman of colour- it is exhausting, and disheartening, and enraging. There, an emotional start. If you don’t believe that weight exists, take an honest look at the policies and practices not just of today, but in the history books.
When Zimbabwe was created, the British government intervened to ‘protect’ the interests of their settlers and farmers, leading to an agreement whereby the British government paid a nominal rent to remain on the land, and send their products directly to Britain for trade and tax purposes. When Tony Blair’s government forfeited on the rent, this triggered a sequence of events that culminated in farm invasions. At the same time, Blair’s Labour government recruited thousands of nurses, social workers and teachers from Zimbabwe, most of them female, to work in the UK, with the promise of citizenship. They had to come alone, without husbands or children. Families were destroyed. Who paid the price?
A similar story ‘you may know of is the partition of India in 1947. It is estimated that between 75000 and 100000 women were kidnapped and raped during the partition. The tension created by the separation continues to ferment violence against women as a weapon of control, with victims such as Khadija Shah and Tunashree Dutta. Know their names.
Another example are The Congos, some of the wealthiest countries in the world. They were wealthy when colonised by the French and the Belgians and horrific human rights atrocities were committed by King Leopold. And the Democratic Republic of Congo is wealthy now, when the violent rape of women and children as young as nine months old are a weapon of war. I won’t recount the horrors, you can find them with a simple Google search. The impact of the world stage from a small percentage of the world’s population is astounding. What’s astounding is how long it’s taking us as a collective humanity to recover and recalibrate.
by Mogali Masuku
Mogali Masuku is a Royal Central School of Speech and Drama trained actress. You can find her on Twitter.