If a white person said rape is inherently a culture in African societies?

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By Nomazulu Thata                                                                             

“No, my Lord. I did not rape her. I “took” her to my home with the assistance of my brother and cousin. The following day I called my family and introduced her as the daughter-in-law in the home.” (He took her to his home means he abducted her to his home) Those are words the rapist used to justify his actions in court. He does not see any wrongdoing; he did what culture has been practising since time immemorial.

In court he confidently expressed his actions as legitimate; his actions are in accordance with the culture of the Tonga people in Binga: It was his defence based purely on cultural values of the Tonga tradition. (Rape is when sexual intercourse is forced on woman without consent.) The parents of the girls looked for her and found her, they reported the case to the police as rape: their under-aged daughter was raped. She was sent to the hospital for treatment.

This case was reported to the police on the 12th of May 2020: Three men grabbed the girl minor whose name was withheld for legal reasons, lives in the same village in Binga where the accused men live. They force-marched her to their home, arrived by the night then one of the men sexually forced himself on her. Sexual intercourse with the girl was sealing the relationship as his wife the next day.

This incidence is a classic example of rape that is embedded in our cultures!

Again, lately in our news media, a similar incident happened that shocked the nation. A man named Herbert Chamunorwa from Chirundu took three boys aged nine, ten and eleven from their home and while they were in the bush he grabbed one of them, forced him to bend facing down: forced his p*nis inside the boy’s anus. He repeated the same to other boys and in return he gave them wild fruits to buy their silence. The pain in the anus was intolerable, they reported the man to their parents. The case was reported to the police, he is in custody for trial.

This is what we mean when we say in Zimbabwe, men have unfettered sense of entitlement! Zimbabwe is quick to point fingers at Caucasians about their culture of homosexuality as if it does not exist in our African societies. Inflicting pain related to sex to young boys leave the boys traumatized for life and will affect their lives adversely forever. Doubtful still if Herbert Chamunorwa knows the consequences of his actions to young boys.     

On the 13th of May, this month three women parliamentarians: Cecilia Chimbiri, Netsai Marova and Joanah Mamombe were kidnapped by unknown CIO agents of the state after a demonstration in Warren Park. The women recounted horrific sexual and physical abuse at the hands of the kidnappers. By the look of their photos, the young women were seriously beaten by their abductors, the feared secret service: CIO.

Does it surprise us then that the culture of rape is just embedded in our societies? Here is an example of how the government of Zanu uses rape as a weapon to punish dissenting voices and opposing political parties.

Some voices in Harare argue that it was a stage-managed abduction done by the MDC party: this is however inconclusive if it was stage-managed. This narrative is malicious knowing the notoriety of Zanu PF and how on several occasions Zanu has used rape as one of its weapons against political opponents: the abduction of dissenting voices is Zanu’s modus operandi we know and acquainted with. My question to this will be: Is Itai Dzamara stage-managing his abduction? Not to pre-empt the police findings on this case that is still being investigated, we know Zanu will manipulate the case, twist facts to its favour the women will be deemed liars and attention-seeking.

Why they demonstrated during the lockdown is neither here nor there. It becomes exceedingly cynical if state-sponsored violence against Cecilia Chimbiri, Netsai Marova and Joanah Mamombe; abducted, tortured, raped, and severely beaten should be a state corrective for violating lockdown. The culture of violence: the state sponsored pornography of violence in Zimbabwe is nerve wrecking, dangerous and abhorrent. This must stop. This violence must be taken seriously and be reported to world bodies, we are helpless on our own against the government of Zimbabwe.

In May 2016, a white South African Judge: Ms Mabel Jansen was strongly condemned for having commented online about rape in South African cultures. She said: “Rape is a black man’s pastime. In their culture a woman is there to please them. Period! It is seen as a man’s absolute right and a woman’s consent is not required.” Close quote. Judge Mabel Jansen was widely criticised as from a racist who should resign from her post. I wonder still if it were a black Judge who made such comments: would it be deemed as racist: What racist name will be labelled to a black making same comments?

Then how do we comprehend a situation in South Africa, every 36 seconds a girl, or woman even babies are raped? Every 90 minutes a woman is raped in Zimbabwe. Other statistics say 12 girls are raped every day in Zimbabwe. There are rising cases of old women who live alone in rural homes who are raped by young men, most of these cases go unreported to the authorities. Women are paying the price of a nation that is becoming lawless. In a country with 95% unemployment, men past their time on sex sprees with young rural girls and old vulnerable women in rural areas.

This is what we mean when we say rape has become a culture in our societies; it is the statistics that show critical cases of rape that has become a way of life. It all depends on who said the statement; is it a black person or a white person saying the same, saying the obvious fact: violence has become a culture in Zimbabwe and South Africa.

The case of a young man from Binga is of great significance because his case confirms the culture of abduction and sexual assault on a woman as culture of Tonga people. The local Chief Sinamagonde gives a name to this medieval practice: “kwangila or kucizisya: whereby a man can force a woman into marriage and is called “kujata anguzu.” (The Tonga Kujata anguzu means sex by force and subsequent marriage). The Chief was deeply concerned about the actions of the three men because he says these practices have been outlawed generations ago by international conventions that protect the rights of women. He is worried that such medieval traditions are revisiting his villages once more.

Women in Zimbabwe experience raw masculine sexual violence daily. Violence is directed at woman’s dignity, self-determination, self-integrity, self-assertive and self-empowerment of their lives. These three women activists: Hon. Mamombe, Chimbiri and Marova are targets because they are self-liberated, opposition politicians in their right and empowered, and dynamic. Their dignity is violated using sex and cruel beatings to demoralize them and cow them to fear and silence.

Does it surprise us then that the culture of rape is embedded in our societies?

The history of Zimbabwe is marred by sexual violence on women and girls. Sexual violence has become pervasive in all sections of our societies evidenced by police statistics: every 90 minutes, a baby, a toddler, a child a girl, a young woman, a mother a grandmother is sexually mutilated, assaulted, experience sexual violence. It is therefore undeniable that rape is now part of our culture, the nation is going through an epidemic of rape cases. You need to trace the origins of it; you will find that it came with the liberation struggle, from liberation movements that purport to have liberated us from colonialism.

Several forms of abuse on women were prevalent in both liberation movements. Women died in crossfire because they have been abducted from their homes and in some cases on their way to collect firewood and water. Joining of women in the liberation struggle was not a choice but coercive; some women who participated in the struggle were sex mules. Is that not the irony of history that the culture of violence and rape can be traced back from the liberation struggle?

The young girls were used and abused, were rotated, exchanged from one freedom fighter to the next. In the event of enemy exchange where commanders and freedom fighters lost their lives: they will turn on the young women and term them loss and criminals. They were accused to have caused deaths of war commanders and freedom fighters. So many women died of non-clinical abortions, after rape ordeals, some died due to bleeding and infections. All these stories must be told without fear.

The white South African Judge: Mabel Jansen was right. Our African men spend much of their time having sex with multiple women because sex is a black man’s past time. In our culture, women are there to please men and we have no right to our own bodies and that is the painful fact. Judge Jansen was dead right, the difference is that she Caucasian, she is not supposed to comment about facts relating to black people and culture. We Africans are allergic to facts coming from “Caucasians.”

Zanu PF government has committed gross human rights offences since 1980. It is for this reason that this government must be reported to the United Nations for the abductions of three parliamentarians. Zanu government has crossed the red line long back we ask the international community to assist in solving our political situation in Zimbabwe. We ask for UN interventions to set up an NTA – National Transitional Administration, a non-political administration composed of experts and technocrats that will spearhead the implementation of electoral, political, and economic reforms.