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Symposium will spotlight violence, healing, in Zimbabwe
Syracuse University’s Africa Initiative and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications will host “Zimbabwe: Healing, Reconciliation, and Reconstruction,” a three-day symposium Oct. 29-31 on the SU campus. The symposium will feature human rights activists, government officials and academics from Zimbabwe and the United States; it is free and open to the public.
The Africa Initiative is a program of the Department of African American Studies in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences. The symposium is co-sponsored by the Pan African Community of Central New York, the Coalition of Multicultural Public Affairs Students and the African Students Union.
The opening session will be Thursday, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m. in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium, Newhouse 3. Opening session presenters are:
• Ambassador Boniface Guwa Chidyausiku, Zimbabwe’s permanent representative to the United Nations;
• Tawanda Mutasah, director of programs and Africa Advisory Board chair for the Open Society Institute; and
• Sekai Masikana Holland, minister of state for reconciliation and national healing in Zimbabwe.
The symposium will continue on Friday, Oct. 30, from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. with sessions taking place in Room 500 of the Hall of Languages and in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium. The symposium will conclude on Saturday, Oct. 31, with a community event from 2- 5 p.m. at The Warehouse, 350 W. Fayette St., featuring informal conversations with the speakers and traditional African food and entertainment.
A complete schedule of events can be found at http://africainitiative.syr.edu. Paid parking ($3.50) is available in the Marion Lot, Waverly Avenue, on Thursday, Oct. 29, and in the Marion Lot, the Booth Garage or the University Avenue Garage on Friday, Oct. 30, and at The Warehouse on Saturday, Oct. 31.
Other speakers include:
• Gertrude Hambira, secretary general of the General Agricultural and Plantations Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe;
• Jestina Mukoko, executive director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project;
• Mmatshilo Motsei, author and founder of the Asiganang Domestic Abuse Prevention and Training program in Johannesburg; and
• Elinor Sisulu, award-winning author, journalist and human rights activist.
About the speakers
Boniface Guwa Chidyausiku
Chidyausiku has served as ambassador and permanent representative of the Republic of Zimbabwe to the United Nations, to the Conference on Disarmament and the World Trade Organization in Geneva, and as ambassador to the Republic of Angola and the People’s Republic of China.
Commissioned in 1985 as lieutenant colonel in the Zimbabwe Liberation Army, Chidyausiku subsequently served as defense attaché with Zimbabwe embassies in Washington, D.C., and Canada. He has also served as chair of the Committee on Regional Trade Agreements in the World Trade Organization and vice president of the 49th Session of the Trade and Development Board of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), among other appointments.
Hambira is secretary general of the General Agricultural and Plantations Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ), which supports the rights of farm workers, one of the most marginalized groups in the country. Hambira has endured physical and verbal abuse as a result of her work and determination to highlight the plight of farm workers, including being abducted by “war veterans” when she was eight months pregnant.
Sekai Masikana Holland
A longtime political activist and human rights advocate, Holland is a member of Morgan Tsvangirai’s opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Two years ago, Holland was brutally assaulted in a police station by supporters of Prime Minister Robert Mugabe, following the controversial run-off presidential election. She was evacuated to South Africa for treatment of multiple injuries and then to Australia. She returned to Zimbabwe in July 2008 after an agreement was reached between the MDC and Mugabe’s ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front. She was subsequently elected to the senate and in February 2009 was appointed minister of state for national healing and reconciliation.
Motsei is an author who has worked for more than 10 years as a community-development specialist, counselor and gender consultant for institutions around the world. She has received numerous awards, including the 2000 United Nations Habitat Award. She is the founder of the Asiganang Domestic Abuse Prevention and Training (ADAPT) program in Alexander Township, Johannesburg. Her latest book, “The Kanga and the Kangaroo Court: Reflections on the Rape Trial of Jacob Zuma” (Jacana Media, 2008), chronicles the story of a young rape victim who dared to bring charges against Zuma, a father To Judyfigure, family friend and former deputy president of South Africa.
Motsei uses Zuma’s trial as a mirror to reveal the hidden, yet public, forms of violence against women in their homes, marriages and churches. Caught in the crossfire of the nation’s political succession battle, this young woman refused to back down. Her story outlines the particular ways in which women can be subjugated by power; by speaking out, she amplified the muffled screams of the countless victims of those who parade their authority in parliament, government and religion.
Human rights activist and journalist, Mukoko is the executive director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, which records incidents of alleged political violence by the Mugabe regime. Between January and September 2008, the organization catalogued 20,143 incidents, including 202 murders, 463 abductions, 41 rapes, 411 cases of torture and 3,942 assaults. Last December, Mukoko was taken into custody by the Mugabe regime and charged with plotting to overthrow the government. She was released on bail several months later, following an international outcry. Last month, Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court ordered a permanent stay of criminal proceedings against Mukoko.
Tawanda Mutasah is director of programs and Africa Advisory Board chair for the Open Society Institute, a not-for-profit organization founded by George Soros that works to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. Mutasah has previously directed the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa and run its Human Rights and Democracy Building Program and the Economic Justice Program. Mutasah was founding chair of the National Constitutional Assembly in Zimbabwe and worked as the national head of the ecumenical justice and peace body in the country.
An attorney, Mutasah is the recipient of the International Bar Association’s International Rule of Law Award and has served on a number of international and African boards, including deputy chair of the Institute for a Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe and as founding trustee of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre.
Sisulu was born and educated in Zimbabwe and continued her studies in Senegal and the Netherlands in history, English literature and feminist theory. As an academic researcher for the Ministry of Labor in Zimbabwe during the 1980s, Sisulu published studies of women’s work and development assistance, which culminated in the book “The Women of Zimbabwe” (Women Ink; 1st edition, January 1989).
Daughter-in-law of ANC anti-apartheid activists Walter and Albertina Sisulu, Elinor Sisulu published, in 2003, an unprecedented biography of the couple, “Walter and Albertina Sisulu: In Our Lifetime” (Abacus 2003). Walter Sisulu spent 27 years in a South African prison beside Nelson Mandela. The book was awarded the 2003 NOMA Award for the most outstanding book published in Africa.
Sisulu has also worked for the International Labor Organization on assistance programs for the African National Congress (ANC) and as a freelance writer, assistant editor and editor for “Speak,” a black feminist publication.