by Hope Chigudu
As we think about our sisters; women rights activists; Yara Sallam and Sanaa Seif as well as 21 others, unjustly imprisoned in Egypt, and other women human rights defenders from across the continent, not forgetting our little ones captured by Boko Haram, and those battling merciless Ebola, we pause to gather our spirits together as sisters and human rights defenders. We don’t come as helpless people. We are bold warriors who have walked through fire and wilderness of patriarchy, dictatorship, greed, abuse, humiliation, disempowerment, and uncertainty, fear, intimidation, injustice and imprisonment. We have moved huge mountains and even built some but we have also had our movement fragmented, our physical bodies tortured and our emotions tested and tried in more ways than we can count. Some, amongst us have been killed and others maimed. Nevertheless, standing on the shoulders of our ancestors, we have always tried to stand for one another (even in our disagreements) and continued to believe in feminism and its power to burn patriarchy and all its off springs such as homophobia to ashes.
Today we champion our brave sisters as they languish in prison and as they fight other battles. We pray that even in such difficult places (physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual) you show them how to care for themselves and how to protect their spirits from being broken by the enemies. We hold them in love, support and admiration; we celebrate them but also cry with them, with great love, and tenderness. You know that we are proud of their strengths. May we, too, stand as firm, tall and strong as the sisters that are being tried, may we allow our light and love to shine in the darkest places, rekindling connection and hope. In this way, may healing and wholeness spill from our hearts to our sisters.
We ask you to uphold and embrace them and us because, warriors though we are, there are times when we, too, need a loving touch, a warm embrace, a word of hope.
We come this day to renew ourselves, our commitment to the liberation of every sister on earth, and our love and support for women activists and all the women who struggle in various ways. We come bringing our sighs that are too deep for words into this prayer and observance; we bring our shrill cries knowing that with your support, our weary souls might find rest. We are gathered as a community that has learned the truth: that we can transform the world as a collective, a movement than we can alone.
Just Associates Southern Africa (JASS SNA) & friends of JASS came together to express our solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Egypt as well as women human rights defenders standing for rights across the African continent and around the world. This prayer is a part of that compilation.