By John-Paul Kayuni
As countries worldwide observe 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV), a group of young people under the banner of Sapitwa poetry is using art to advocate for the end of the vice, which seems to be deep rooted in the Malawian culture.
Dubbed Art for A cause, the campaign employs poetry with strong message to society particularly perpetrators of the vice, victims and people who witness the abuse and choose to remain silent due to various reasons.
One piece a day, the poems will be shared for 16 days starting from November 25 to December 11 2017 . Different media platforms shall be used, with its main focus being social media. The aim is to target many people and change their perceptions.
According to the group leader, renowned poet Robert Chiwamba, the poems sourced from different poets across the country carry a challenging message to society to immediately stop any forms of gender based violence.
The poems among other things, express serious physical and mental suffering experienced by victims of the malpractice.
Reads one poem in part by Tumtufye Simwimba;
“I have wrapped my neck before
With my lover’s manhood,
And dangled under his lions
I have sought death in that manner before
I have tasted life in my throat
Pouring away like a stream of bile
a noose made from his foreskin tightens around me, killing…
Florence Mwale also paints a picture of how people ignore gender based violence in her poem titled “because society says it’s okay”
According to the United Nations, Gender-based violence is “Any act violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
The first official definition of Gender-based violence was offered in 1993, during the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.
GBV can occur throughout a woman’s lifecycle, and can include everything from early childhood marriage and genital mutilation, to sexual abuse, domestic violence, legal discrimination and exploitation.
Another poet, John-Paul Kayuni, in his poem written in vernacular Chichewa titled “Mayi ndi munthu” calls on the society to respect and help woman to reach greater heights and achieve her dreams instead of pulling her down for no reason that because she is woman.
So far, 6 poems have been shared from 25 November and the last one will be shared on the 16th day, December 11, 2017.
According to Chiwamba, the campaign will reach climax on 17 December with a poetry show at Grittahz camp in Lilongwe. Where different poets including Patwell Phiri, Yolie the poet, Marumbo, Jedidiah, Phindu Zaie Banda, Chim Chisiza, Nathan Malimba, Rodwell Lumbe, Josh Cooper, Mlakatuli Wamanyazi, Yona Gondwe, Robert Chiwamba himself and many more will perform.
The show is expected to start at 1:30 to 5:30 pm . Patrons will have to produce a ticket worth K1500 or K2000 cash at the door.
The tickets can be accessed at Koko Bean, Cheza Café, Fussion and Grittahs Camp.
The 16 days of activism against Gender-based violence is an annual global movement which emphasizes on all forms of violence against women as a human rights issue.
The campaign is conducted from 25 November, which is International Day for the Elimination of violence against women to the International Human Rights Day on 10 December each year.