Zimbabwe: “I am going to be the African girl who will go beyond the boundaries”

March 1st 2012: United States Deputy Chief of Mission David Abell on Wednesday honored six Zimbabwean students whose essays on Black History Month were judged the best among over 28 entries from eight provinces. The winners – Sibusisiwe Mukwakwami of St. Augustines inPenhalonga (Manicaland); Caroline Chinhuru (Arundel School, Harare); Takunda Chitakatira (St. Faiths, Rusape, Manicaland); Gwendolene Mugodi(Domincan Convent, Harare) and Grace Kabeya, St John’s, Harare) – were awarded certificates and books.  Their schools will receive a set of books on African American history and culture.

David Abell, U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, with the winners

David Abell, U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, with the winners

Announcing the winners, David Abell, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy said he hoped the writing of these winning students on Black History Month would motivate them and their peers to succeed academically and in life.

“A critical component of our engagement with the people of Zimbabwe is to collectively reflect on the economic, political, and social achievements of those who came before us—men and women, black and white, young and old- in the hope that the young people of today might find the inspiration and motivation to build on these great accomplishments,” said the U.S. diplomat.

In the essays, the winning students drew from both African-American achievers and the founding fathers of Africa’s liberation struggles to answer the question, “What can I do?”

“A pupil who scored marginal marks from first to third grade, what can I do?” asked Sibusisiwe in her essay. “I am going to be the African girl who will go beyond the boundaries, who will fight against the spirit fogging Zimbabwe, that spirit of limiting oneself, of being stereotyped and marginalized. I want to be a lawyer (a desire that) stems from the desire to see justice being executed and equality prevailing in my community.”

“They say that Rosa Parks sat so that Martin Luther King Jnr could stand, Martin Luther King Jnr stood so that Obama Could run, Obama ran so that you and I could fly. It’s time,” wrote Caroline.

Grace said Zimbabweans should honor individuals like Patrice Lumumba, who voiced his opinions regardless of oppression. “I believe in memory of his honour, my generation in Zimbabwe should not be afraid to voice their opinions. Because Lumumba voiced his, the Congo gained completeindependence,” wrote the student.

The essay contest, which is in its third year running, attracted entries from 5 provinces. In 2011, 27 high schools in seven provinces participated.  Ms. Julia Jenjezwa, a Gokomere High School sciences student from Bikita in Masvingo, was the overall 2011 winner and has subsequently been awarded a full scholarship to Yale University.

The New Generation event simultaneously concluded the U.S. Embassy’s Black History Month commemorations and launched Women’s History Month, which is observed every March.  During Women’s History Month, the U.S. Embassy will engage high school girls through motivational talks by Zimbabwean and American women under the theme “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures.”

“By reflecting on the achievements of women in the past, we hope to inspire today’s girls to stay in school and remain focused, regardless of the challenges they may meet in life,” said Abell.

Musical entertainment came from the group Amplified, American-born Zimbabwean mbira musician Chiwoniso Maraire, and singer and child rights activist Nyaradzo Mashayamombe. New Generation Events are organized by the U.S. Embassy every six months and have in the past featured Zimbabwean and American musicians, including jazz artist Victor Kunonga and singer-songwriter Ryan Koriya- ZimPAS© March 1 2012.