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"To My Vagina Warriors" by Ratanang Mogotsi, V-Girls South Africa
"If you can speak freely about something, you can protect it" - Dr. Denis Mukwege of the DRC
This will live with me forever because we said "VAGINA" close to a billion times at the summit. In our rooms, in the toilets, during lunch, super, breakfast and even when we greeted each other. "Vagina Warrior's" Isatou Touray would say this every time she spoke and the rest of the would follow. In the beginning many feared to say the word, even in their languages, but as the summit progressed we learnt to say Vagina in almost all the african languages all in the name of protecting women and girls in Africa.
I was surrounded by powerful women and men who were doing amazing work in their countries to protect women and girls. I was introduced to the world of activism and one which I never thought I would enter. So I began to question my role at the summit. I am just a young girl from South Africa who has dreams of becoming an actor, a director, film maker, writer in fact my list is endless. Little did I know that all my dreams could influence change in our society or take the form of activism. Little did I know that by being in the play "I am an emotional creature" I was exposed and introduced to activism.
Wait. So I am an activist? But that's pushing it, let's just say I'm still learning about this world of activism.
*The Visit to the Tasaru Safe House*
We went to the safe house and the V-Girls got the chance to hold a workshop. Similar to one we held in South Africa. We danced, we created our own emotional creature's and at the end of it all we sat around in a circle and the girls told us what they wanted to be when they graduated. "A doctor, a chef, a teacher and an accountant". I realized that like me, the girls have dreams, like me the girls are young and like me they have the opportunity to be bigger, better and powerful women. One of the girls told me that she came when she couldn't speak not even a single world, but know she leads the girls in song and she wants to go back into her community and gather other girls to come to the safe house. I thought, wait a minute, this girl could be the next mama Agnes, she smiled when I told her. She told me to take a picture with her because she said we looked alike and we liked the same colour; green.
When we danced we all released all kinds of emotions and tensions and unfortunately for her she lost her earring, she was saddened by that, so I gave her mine and her eyes lit up and I received a huge hug. the girls of Tasaru safe house taught me that when you want something, you do whatever it takes to get it. They ran away from FGM and early marriage in search of education and better lives.
Like Jane Mukuninwa from the DRC and "City of Joy" they ran and ran and ran" away from all pain and fear in their lives. I have found role models in each and every girl who stepped foot in the Tasaru centre because these girls went against everything to be refusers and emotional Vagina warriors!!!
*smile and a laugh*
Jane made me realize how we don't always need languages to communicate and understand each other, she proved that emotions and actions spoke louder than words. I remember trying to have a conversation with her in English and all she did was smile, take my hand and gave me a big and long hug. I was asking her how she managed to be so happy and full of joy even after what she had gone through. The answer I got was a hug and that's all I needed.
The Summit opened my eyes to the real issues of Africa, it educated me beyond what I thought I knew, it made me realize what power we have. If 50± people can meet and discuss ideas about ending women violence, a billion more shouldn't fail to do the same. I am part of that one billion who will dance, sing, strike, act, write and blog about women issues in Africa. As young as I am, I have been hit by the buzz to make a difference in my continent, my country and my community. One Billion Rising Africa is only the beginning of more gazillion to rise.