Friday, August 23, 2013

Young African Woman of Note- August 2013, Nyasha Sengayi

Nyasha Sengayi

This month I am proud to introduce you to one of those amazing young women, who work quietly without seeking attention or accolades, Nyasha. I first became aware of 28 year old Nyasha as one of the young women who visited the online portal Her Zimbabwe, a space where women come together to share stories, to comment and give voice to their opinions on a myriad issues that are part and parcel of the Zimbabwean Feminine experience. Nyasha was one of those whose comments caught my attention because clearly she wore the courage of her convictions very comfortably and she displayed a passion for zero tolerance towards violence against women.

My assessment of Nyasha as a young woman who cared deeply about the plight of women both in Zimbabwe and around the world was confirmed when one day, she visited the One Billion Rising Zimbabwe page on Face Book, just after the gang rape and mutilation of a Young Indian woman in December 2012. I blogged it here. Her rage and pain at this atrocious crime jumped off her post on FB and in it she stated that she had to do something.


“I have stopped crying and talking about Nirbhaya for now; at least for the few days that I will be running around to fight for her memory even in Zimbabwe. This is a promise to everyone who is upset about the issue, I will not sleep until what I want to do is done with my other sisters from other mothers. Watch this space. The time to stop talking has come. When I’m done with success, I will sit down and cry for her and all the other women we do not know about who have gone through similiar experiences....#Hope Alive 2013”  December 29, 2012.

Well, I watched the space and sure enough, on January 4, a memorial gathering for the deceased 23 year old medical student, organized by Nyasha and some of her colleagues took place at the Embassy of India in Harare. Here are some pictures.

The Indian Ambassador to Zimbabwe

Members of the Zimbabwe- Indian community


Nyasha at extreme left
Nyasha had become a regular visitor to the One Billion Rising Zimbabwe Face Book page and while I had been keeping it alive from my computer in the States, we desperately needed someone to start mobilizing on the ground. Nyasha’s ability to make a decision, to create a plan of action and then to execute was the reason I approached her and asked her if she would mobilize for the OBR Campaign in Zimbabwe. We skyped and she shared her ideas for the Rising and got to work immediately. Her creativity and wealth of ideas blew me away.From a road show, to spoken word and traditional dance, Nyasha encountered many obstacles as she tried to get various groups involved. She was tenacious in her efforts and after hitting many a brick wall, she found a few willing helpers and on February 14, 2013, Zimbabwe had a Rising at the Zimbabwe Art Gallery in Harare. Here are some pictures.
Miss Nyasha giving opening remarks at the Zim Rising 2013




Done and dusted! And she walks on proud!

In March, Nyasha was invited to the American Embassy to speak to a group about the issue of Violence against women in Zimbabwe.
Nyasha doing what she does best.

She became involved in a campaign to find the rapists and murderers of 10 year old Stacey Munjoma who had been found abandoned in a field in Harare.

Stacey was found in the banana field on left. Crowd on the right headed to burial place.

  She and others availed themselves to the family to the deceased girl and held a memorial service for her also.

Mourners at the funeral carrying placards in protest 

Since then, Nyasha continues to be vocal on the issue of violence against women. She is an avid reader and eager student as she explores and defines her role in the women’s movement and what her feminism is about. She is also the founder of Source International Zimbabwe, an organization that seeks to create a global platform for women to resolve local challenges through movement building. It was founded in October 2012 with the aim of scaling up campaign- based programming for women’s rights and ultimately brings new and relevant action to the cause. Source is inspired by responsive citizens who are willing to stand against any form of violence against women


She has worked in the young women’s movement for the past three years and has a passion in exploring global issues affecting women. Her work is premised on opening space for effective Advocacy and Lobbing through Visual Documentation and Campaign Based Programming on the general status of Women in Zimbabwe.

She is also a writer and poet working on promoting the participation of women in telling their own stories through writing.

This year, Nyasha is the regional coordinator for the One Billion Rising for Justice, 2014. The focus of the campaign is justice for victims of violence and what this means in the Zimbabwean context.

Personally I am moved by the depth of passion that Nyasha has for ending violence against women and her commitment to giving voice to issues that affect women in Zimbabwe. She displays amazing leadership qualities, is creative in her problem solving strategies and gives of her time and resources with a generosity that is simply astounding. She is one to watch because I am confident that she will go far and will take other young women along with her.

Nyasha was involved in mobilizing young Zimbabweans to register to vote in the July 2013 elections

 Thank you Nyasha for all you do despite the challenging environment in which you operate. Thank you for being a fierce warrior woman, activist, spiritual being and role model. I hope that all who read this blog will be inspired by you. If there is one thing I associate with you it is your generosity of spirit, something I have only ever encountered in a few.  Here is one of my favorite quotes from Nyasha:

This picture is evocative of the Nyasha I have come to know: generous. Sharing playtime with a friend.

“In practice, intimidation is much more dangerous than physical violence. Who can set free an entire population of minds ridden with fear?" Nyasha Sengayi

Go on Nyasha, kick some serious **s! the world awaits you !