Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Mandela Fellows’ Anti-GBV Campaign Enters Southern Province

By Paul Shalala in Pemba
The Mandela Washington Fellows before the marchpast

Disturbed by the increasing number of media reports showing wives killings their husbands in Zambia, 2016 Mandela Washington Fellows in Zambia have launched the #MWFAgainstGBV campaign to raise awareness about the gender based violence.

Since the idea was shared among the 43 Zambian fellows in early September, the group raised money and made arrangements to launch the campaign in Pemba, a rural district in Zambia’s Southern Province where Gender Based Violence (GBV) cases are alarming.

The fellows first launched the hashtag #MWFAgainstGBV on social media ahead of the launch.

On 25th November, five fellows travelled to Pemba District which is about 300 kilometers south of the capital Lusaka, to launch the campaign together with civil society, government officials and activists.

Mandela Washington Fellows leading the procession
The launch coincided with the start of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence which commenced that day and will end on 10th December 2016..

The day started with the Mndela Fellows paying a courtesy call on the district Commissioner to explain their mission in the district.

After that, it was time for a marchpast across the central business district of Pemba.

Pemba District Commissioner Reginald Mugoba flagged off the marchpast.

2016 Mandela Washington Fellows Paul Shalala, Mwanga Simwanda, Nang’amba Chintu, Abigail Nedziwe and Vwanganji Bowa led the hundreds of marchers along the three kilometre route from the District Administration offices to Pemba market where hundreds of marketers and residents were waiting.
Part of the crowd during the launch

Majorettes from Pemba Primary School provided entertainment as the procession made its way along the T2 main highway to the market.

At the market, various traditional groups provided entertainment for the hundreds of people who showed up at the event.

One touching sketch by a women’s group depicted a woman who poisoned her husband in order for her to inherit his wealth.

In another sketch performed by students from Pemba Secondary School, an alcoholic father was seen abusing his wife and children everytime he returns from drinking sprees.

Mr Mugoba speaking as Egala Kabesha holds a placard
The event was almost disrupted by heavy rains but the crowds defied the weather and remained attentive despite being soaked.

And in his speech, the District Commissioner thanked the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellows for choosing his district to launch the #MWFAgainstGBV campaign.

“Your decision to launch the campaign in my district is welcome. Allow me to thank President Barack Obama for coming up with the Mandela Washington Fellowship which has seen our own youths doing great things upon return from the USA,” said Mr Mugoba, who was dressed in a Mandela Washington Fellowship t-shirt.

The fellows appeared on a live program on Byta FM
And speaking on behalf of other fellows, 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow Mwanga Simwanda said the team chose Pemba because of the increasing cases of GBV.

“We chose Pemba District not because of the hardworking 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow Nang’amba Chintu who is based here, but because of the 223 gender based violence cases you recorded last year. These are figures which are moving. We need to fight this problem together,” said Ms Simwanda.

Meanwhile, the Zambia Police Service in the district has recorded an increase in GBV cases this year.

Fellows taking a selfie at Pemba market
“From January to November this year, we have recorded 226 cases of GBV. Most of them involve defilement, wife battery and family neglect,” disclosed Inspector Henry Bwalya, who is the Coordinator for the Victim Support Unit at Pemba Police Station.

At the event, two people were honoured by the District Commissioner for joining the fight against GBV.

Egala Kabesha, a housewife, was honoured for defying the community and reporting her husband to the Police for beating her repeatedly.

Her case is currently before the courts of law.

Another person honoured was Inspector Mwangala, a Police officer who was a perpetrator of gender based violence but is now a Pastor in one of the local churches where he preaches against GBV.

After a radio program at Byta FM in Choma
After successfully launching the #MWFAgainstGBV in Pemba, the fellows left for neighbouring Choma District for a radio program.

Paul, Mwanga and Vwanganji were featured live on Byta FM to discuss the campaign and the Mandela Washington Fellowship.

The program, which was very interactive, was moderated by Mathew Simonje who himself is interested in applying for the fellowship next year.

Through the program, Mr Simonje, who is also the station's manager in charge of Marketing, was able to get tips which he hopes will help him apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship when it opens for applications next year.

The fellows at Falls FM in Livingstone
The following day, the trio also featured on another live program on Falls FM, a radio station in Livingstone, a city which hosts the world famous Victoria Falls.

On this program, the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellows discussed various issues surrounding gender based violence ranging from tradition, the law, early marriages and alcohol.

The fellows wrapped up their tour of Southern Province with an interview at ZNBC Livingstone offices where they explained to the country’s national broadcaster their mission in the province.

In 2017, the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellows hope to extend the #MWFAgainstGBV to all provinces with the help of some funding.

At present, the fellows are running the campaign using their own resources.

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