The Faces Issue
Often times we get told we don’t look Zimbabwean everywhere we go, to which we retaliate by saying; “What does a Zimbabwean look like?” The truth is; even we’re not sure what a Zimbabwean looks like. Using the 16 faces feature and the different articles in this issue we have set out to map out the different faces of Zimbabwe, how we are all connected and how we can build unity and therefore real sustainable development by appreciating, celebrating and utilizing our differences as a generation that embraces rather than shuns multiculturalism.
The reason we are not really sure what the face of a Zimbabwean is because there are so many different types of people and most of which get excluded in the narrative that is mostly centred on two tribes in Zimbabwe, the Shona and the Ndebele. Approaching Zimbabwean identity this way is dishonest and robs us of the opportunity to embrace how truly diverse we are and how rich our cultures are. It also prevents us from celebrating ourselves and developing the national pride that we need. Devolution begins here, when we allow each other to exist in our fullness and not in hierarchy. These are small but significant steps in radically transforming the way we view ourselves as a nation. The first step is to lift each other up by appreciating our differences instead of letting them divide us.
For a long time most people have been forced to exist on the side-lines and have been almost completely erased out of Zimbabwean culture, literature, media and development over the last almost 4 decades. This is why representation matters because when people are out of sight they’re out of mind. Most Zimbabweans are not even aware that there 16 languages spoken in Zimbabwe. Even when tribal issues are discussed they are centred on the Ndebele and Shona; this is not to say this is a useless conversation because it is very important and has a long way to go but this should not be the only conversation.
With elections in sight there has been a lot of talk about building a new Zimbabwe but that cannot be done when we still exclude ‘minorities’, this includes; the tribes covered in this issue, women, the lgbtqi community, disabled people and people suffering from mental illnesses.
In essence; this is what Vutha is about; providing a platform for the representation of the people that would usually fall through the cracks.