Zimbabwean Women Weave Their Own Beautiful Future

InterPress Service
By Busani Bafana

Siduduzile Nyoni, a mother of three, busily completing one of her ilala palm products, which will be sold through a women’s cooperative in western Zimbabwe. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS
Siduduzile Nyoni, a mother of three, busily completing one of her ilala palm products, which will be sold through a women’s cooperative in western Zimbabwe. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

LUPANE, Zimbabwe, Jun 3 2015 (IPS) – Seventy-seven-year-old Grace Ngwenya has an eye for detail. You will never catch her squinting as she effortlessly weaves ilala palm fronds into beautiful baskets.

Her actions are swift and methodical as she twirls, straightens and tugs the long strands into a fine stitch. Periodically she pauses to dip the last three fingers of her right hand into a shallow tin of water that sits beside her, to wet the fibres and make them pliable.
Slowly, under the deft motion of her hands, a basket takes shape. She insists on attention to “detail, neatness and creativity.” Once she has decided on the shape and colour of her product, she will work for seven days straight to complete the task.

“Working together as women has united us, and strengthened our community spirit.”
— Lisina Moyo, a member of the Lupane Women’s Centre (LWC)

When she’s done, the basket will be inspected for quality, carefully packed up, and shipped off to its buyer who could be anywhere in the world from Germany to the United States. Her efforts earn her about 50 dollars a month – a small fortune in a place where women once counted it a blessing to earn even a few dollars in the course of several weeks.

Ngwenya lives in Shabula village in Ward 15 of Zimbabwe’s arid Lupane District, located in the Matabeleland North Province that occupies the western-most region of the country, 170 km from the nearest city of Bulawayo.

Home to about 90,000 people, this area is prone to droughts and has a harsh history of hunger.

Today, rural women are putting Lupane District on the map with an innovative basket-weaving enterprise that is earning them a decent wage, preserving an indigenous skill and enabling them to erect a barrier against extreme weather events by investing the profits of their creativity into sustainable farming.

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Unbridled capitalism is the ‘dung of the devil’, says Pope Francis

The pontiff condemns the impoverishment of developing countries by the world economic order and apologised for the church’s treatment of native Americans.

The Guardian

Pope Francis shakes hands with a mining worker’s leader watched by Bolivia’s president Evo Morales, right, in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Photograph: Rodrigo Abd/AP
Pope Francis shakes hands with a mining worker’s leader watched by Bolivia’s president Evo Morales, right, in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Photograph: Rodrigo Abd/AP

Pope Francis has urged the downtrodden to change the world economic order, denouncing a “new colonialism” by agencies that impose austerity programs and calling for the poor to have the “sacred rights” of labor, lodging and land.

In one of the longest, most passionate and sweeping speeches of his pontificate, the Argentine-born pope used his visit to Bolivia to ask forgiveness for the sins committed by the Roman Catholic church in its treatment of native Americans during what he called the “so-called conquest of America”.

The pontiff also demanded an immediate end to what he called the “genocide” of Christians taking place in the Middle East and beyond, describing it as a third world war.

“Today we are dismayed to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus,” Pope Francis said.

“In this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end.”

Quoting a fourth century bishop, he called the unfettered pursuit of money “the dung of the devil,” and said poor countries should not be reduced to being providers of raw material and cheap labour for developed countries.

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