In this digital age we celebrate, idolise and honour several women creatives. From women writers, bloggers, artists, models, brand influencers and a lot of creative women in the media sector who have been empowered through the use of social media.
But have we ever thought of the Zimbabwean women who dug the foundation for the creative women in our country using blunt tools and facing more persecution than encouragement due to their gender? These women built the foundation with one arm whilst the other arm was burdened with the duties of womanhood and motherhood before there was the #MeTooMovement, #GenderEqualityNow, #TimesUp and other hashtags. Women like Tsitsi Dangarembga and the unsung heroine Tawona Mtshiya.
Tawona Mtshiya was born in 1946. She has authored several books and is a member and the former Chairperson for the Zimbabwe Women Writers, an organisation that promotes the visibility of women authors and writers. Formed at a time when the Zimbabwe literature society was male-dominated, Mrs Tawona Mtshiya helped facilitate the resources to uplift women in a patriarchic literature and media sector. From such, we celebrate women like Tawona who dug the foundation for women in the analogue era to be heard, and this foundation became a platform for women in the digital era.
Tawona’s quest as an author to liberate the literature environment for women did not end with her esteemed work with Zimbabwe Women Writers, but took it to a continental level. In 1996, she was a representative for the Federation of African Media-Zimbabwe that attended the African Non-Governmental Organization Network Caucus that met in Harare to discuss their role in asserting the agendas, priorities and concerns of African civil society. The ideas and implementations that were done at the Caucus contributed a lot to the liberalisation of literature and media field for all genders in Africa for this gave civil society and private media the platform, reassurance and free conscience to express themselves with no fear of persecution in a radical African communist era. To this very day, the civil liberties that Tawona Mtshiya contributed to bringing to life with the Federation of African Media- Zimbabwe and the African Non-Governmental Organization Network Caucus are one of the infinite reasons why today’s generation of men and women are free to express themselves in any way they find pleasing to themselves. The same foundation women like Vimbai Zimuto can express themselves on social media knowing that their civil liberties were granted before the age of social media by women like Tawona.
Tawona’s work in Zimbabwe and Africa never went unnoticed. In 2004, the American Biographical Institute awarded her with the Woman of the Year Award, demonstrating that women from Zimbabwe and any African country can make an impact in a powerhouse hegemonic country like the United States of America. Dear reader, it is women like Tawona who before the digital media era broke the physical, mental and any other boundaries of the limitations of where African literature can reach.
Tawona co-authored “The Zimbabwe We Want”, a publication on how Zimbabwe should be governed in a liberal manner.
In November 2019, she launched her latest book titled “The Mission Of A Shoe Box”.
Currently, she is in the ultimate stage of publishing her next book titled “The Unsung Heroines”. The book will communicate on the issue of women in the Zimbabwean society who have done immense things that have changed the society we live in and broken male patriarchy boundaries.
Tawona is also a board member of the Zimbabwe International Book Fair Association and National Chairperson for Bless The Child Zimbabwe, a private voluntary organization that caters for the needs of poorer children.
Editorial: This month, #enthuse, through our #SheCreatesMarch feature series, celebrates the work of thirty-one Zimbabwean women creatives, the contributions and achievements they have made throughout history, culture, and society. The idea is to elevate visibility for commercial projects and commissions. Discover the work of avant-garde creatives who embody the spirit of the month by uplifting and empowering women. Representing diverse backgrounds and disciplines, these women share one thing in common: their dedication to supporting women and sharing their stories through art and creativity. We are thrilled to share their work. And this month is about them. #ChooseToChallenge