ZIMBABWE POETS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS FEATURE
Welcome to The Adroit Journal’s 2014 Human Rights Feature, a resurrection of our publication’s fierce and longstanding commitment to human rights. My name is Joanna Moley, and I have had the distinct and great pleasure of working closely with Eloise Sims, my fellow Adroit Human Rights Correspondent, to create this year’s feature. Two years ago, I was approached by the journal’s Editor-in-Chief and asked to help with the translation of several poems and short fiction pieces originally penned by Cuban dissidents. As you might imagine, this was an incredibly exciting opportunity for me—a high school sophomore at the time. The pieces we translated were featured in the Spring 2012 issue of the journal, the first of which to call attention to human rights violations perhaps unknown to the average global citizen. Now, we are hitting the ground running, with Eloise and I working throughout the year to promote advocacy for these individuals’ rights, as well as involvement of new organizations for future issues. We hope that you’ll enjoy this year’s feature, which focuses on the role of spoken word poetry in the struggle for advocacy within Zimbabwe.
We’re very proud to be working with Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights, an organization that works with the rising generation of Zimbabwean youth through spoken word poetry workshops, festivals, and forums. By teaching young people to articulate their beliefs and perform confidently, the organization has undoubtedly provided this pivotal generation with poetry: a new way to advocate for human rights and related issues. “We use poetry to talk about social, economic, and political issues bedeviling our country,” explains Program coordinator Robson Isaac Shoes Lambada in the video below.
In recent years, Zimbabwe has been plagued by powerful government administrations that neglect certain basic rights of their constituents. This violence and oppression reached a particularly high point after the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2008, when activists and politicians that opposed the leading party were brutally attacked, murdered, or simply removed at the hands of their political rivals. Ever since that election, organizations fighting for Zimbabwean human rights have been fiercely targeted by the government. In 2012, Zimbabweans rallied to ratify a new constitution in a political referendum. When the existing president, Robert Mugabe, was re-elected in July 2013, there were widespread allegations of corruption. Eloise and I are especially thrilled to offer both an exclusive interview with Robson, as well as three poems from these promising poets in this issue of the journal.
Thanks so much for checking out the human rights portion of this issue, and we hope you explore the interview and the three poems available from this issue’s homepage.
Human Rights Correspondent
The Adroit Journal