#Beatthepots – Empty Vessels Make an Impressionable Noise
In July this year, women in Bulawayo marched through town beating their cooking utensils against their pots as a form of protest against President Robert Mugabe’s government.
This act is symbolic of the starvation being experienced within many households and as Thokozane Khupe put it “these pots that we are beating are no longer cooking anything at home, this is why we brought them to say we no longer have anything to cook. We are starving.”
There is a saying that goes ‘empty vessels make the loudest noise’ which is usually meant in a negative way but the beat the pots campaign made use of this term in a positive way as women used their empty pots to air their grievances which is unique to the way women are being affected by the prevailing poverty and make their voices heard. This act is a manifestation of the gendered face of the economic situation that Zimbabwe is going through at the moment. In their gendered domestic responsibilities, women bear the brunt of the economic situation more than men. As a result of women’s caregiver role, when the pots are empty hungry children cry to the mothers.
When the pots are empty, the husbands take out their frustrations on their wives by beating them. When the pots are empty, the men leave the women to deal with the burdens alone while they search for greener pastures. Sometimes they come back, but having been unfaithful, they are usually accompanied with HIV/AIDS. Others don’t come back at all. Despite this, the effect of the economic decline on women has been ignored and therefore they decided to take matters into their own hands and demonstrated against President Robert Mugabe and his Government’s misrule.
Although this was a great initiative and was a huge success, in the collective series of growing social movement of discontent that has rocked Zimbabwe, it did not receive as much media coverage and as much hype as similar activities did.
This angered me and got me thinking about why this was so and l came up with two possible reasons.
The number one reason for this was it was a women only movement.
Zimbabwe is a strongly patriarchal society and therefore women’s issues or actions are not taken seriously. These women were making the same point that #thisflag and #tajamuka have been making and there are stories in the media on a daily basis about these two movements but despite the success and innovation of this particular movement it received very minimal coverage.
Before the campaign, it was mentioned in the media and messages were sent on Facebook and Twitter but the actual march was covered in the media for just one day and was quickly forgotten after, never to be talked about again. Mainstream media did not capture the voices of the women and there was no follow up as to what is next.
The second reason for the low coverage and impact of the march was that it was perceived as a political MDC-T campaign and in light of current events, citizen movements are receiving more attention and therefore making more of an impact than political parties. Politics and political parties have become affiliated with violence, lies and greed and have lost the faith and trust of citizens. Citizens have started shying away from political party events and have become more inclined to citizen led movements. As a result of the dwindling support for political campaigns the beat the pots received minimum coverage as a result of this.
This beat the pots campaign showed that women are ignored and forgotten within Zimbabwe.
Well done however to the women for making a stand in an environment that usually discourages them from being active citizens. We need to start appreciating the fact that we are all Zimbabweans regardless of our gender or our political affiliation.
We must support and appreciate every action that one is taking for the same cause we are all fighting and that is a better Zimbabwe where all are treated fairly with respect and dignity.
Tinotenda Chishiri 03/08/16