Embracing the spirit of Antigone in modern day defiance

A story is told in Greek mythology of a young woman named Antigone. After her brothers’ struggle for power they are both killed in battle. King Creon makes a decree that one of them, Polynices, should not be mourned or buried whilst the other would get a state funeral. The failure to be buried had implications for Polynices as it meant he could not proceed to the underworld, angering the gods. 

Antigone defied the king’s order and performed the burial rights herself. She was brought before the king to answer for her defiance and responded by saying that she was aware of his wishes but decided to put the will of the gods ahead of man-made laws. She knew there nwould be consequences for defying Creon but she continued with courage, passion and determination.

Courage, passion and determination!

Antigone inspires me, she is the epitome of defiance for me. 

Her convictions were so strong that she was willing to die in the process. A corpse left unburied was an offence to the gods and morality. King Creon knew this but he still issued the decree. Antigone decided it was more important to perform the burial rights rather than obey the unjust law. That is standing up for what you believe in, no matter what!

As a young Zimbabwean, I can't help but wonder why there are so many unjust laws that are decreed in our country. There are so many instances and situations where unjust laws are enacted or revived just to punish us – or so it seems.  Last year - 2016 alone saw many punitive laws enacted; i.e. the restriction on how the Zimbabwean flag can be used, the introduction of the  bond notes, a clamp down on social media activities, the Constitutional amendment to appoint the Chief Justice and now data price hikes. All these seem to be laws enacted or revived to punish me and deprive me of many basic fundamental rights. 

I have asked myself many times: How does our government come up with these policies? No consultation, no soliciting professional opinions, just decrees? How? Why? 

Last year saw an awakening in many Zimbabweans, including myself, of the spirit  to see Zimbabwe do better again. Citizens started asking questions on social media about accountability and use of funds. It became clear that our government was not willing to tackle corruption and at first they called our questioning cyber activism with no consequences until it became cyber terrorism. 

In 2017 the government decided to hike data bundles denying access to a lot of people to the Internet. (Although this has since been reversed until further notice). Access to information is a basic human right but it seems our government and telecommunication companies are adamantly against this and are doing all they can to ensure that we do not access these rights.

The main issue was how Zimbabweans would respond to this new law? 

Some have suggested that like with all new laws Zimbabweans would be outraged at first but the outrage will be short lived and people accept the new charges. I don’t blame the pessimism because that has always been our response. No water in Zimbabwe - organise for a well, tank or borehole. No electricity - get a generator, solar system or inverter. We have been making alternative plans for such a long time that the government thinks its okay to keep messing with us.

As a hard working Zimbabwean I feel it is time for the spirit of Antigones to rise up within each and every one of us and refuse price hikes on any data charges. It is unacceptable.  

Antigone acted in accordance with the supreme law, which was above Creon’s. What does our supreme law, the Constitution of Zimbabwe say about this and all the injustices we continue to face everyday? How can we bring order to this land? We have been constantly robbed of our money, a good life and we have lost many lives along the way. 

In 2017 silence should not be an option, each of us needs to find our inner Antigone and in whatever way possible defy these unjust laws. Whatever you can do to defy this government, be it refusing to pay spot fines at police roadblocks (raid blocks as some call them) refusing to accept bond notes, or paying unjustifiable council bills, do it! 

As Kubatana says: “if you are not outraged (in 2017) you are clearly not paying attention!”

Caroline Kache – 12 January 2017

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