As a collaborative network, our project: I AM A WOMAN DEFINED/STORIES ABOUT HER was shortlisted by Digital Lab Africa in the Virtual Reality category as one of the top 6 projects. Part of the accompanying prizes include training and mentorship which is invaluable as there are no formal VR training institutions in Zimbabwe where we may be guided in our work. It is also yet to be noted if there are any other women working in VR and the training opportunity will help us grow in numbers and interest. So I need your vote to make it into the finals.
I Am A Woman Defined/Stories About Her seeks to pioneer women and conversations about women using dramatised immersive storytelling. It will either affirm or challenge the way society views Nyamhika, Charwe, Nehanda (the ancestral spirit which guided them) and share how their life experiences manifest in the women we are today.
In Zimbabwe, the history of our country is highly patriarchal and does not give due credit to the role women played both before and after Independence. We can count on both hands, the number of women who have made it into our history books. We do not have enough fingers or toes to count the number of documented men. The role of a woman in our society has been one filled with complexity. We have always been prone to subservience and forced to carry society’s burdens with little thought to our own success. But at some point, the people looked to women for leadership and solutions…
Undeniably, the battle is yet to be won today.
A 13-part series, I Am A Woman Defined/Stories About Her, will anchor stories about defiant women in Zimbabwe’s history, to stories of rising women who are playing a role in defining Zimbabwe’s future – women who are breaking the fold.
Said to only possess women of the Vahera, this being the name of a totem spun off the word kuyera meaning sacred, Nehanda is an ancestral spirit synonymous with strong will and rebellion. Despite being the daughter of a ruler, Nyamhika’s life was not her own. I Am A Woman Defined/Stories About Her will share her experiences as a Chief’s daughter forced into royal incest to expand her brother’s rule and how she stood for her people and land whilst being possessed by Nehanda.
It is said that ancestral spirits roam the mountains in the form of lions until they find a new medium and it wasn’t until 500 years later that the spirit possessed an elderly woman who was to lead Zimbabwe’s next rebellion. Charwe.
I Am A Woman Defined/Stories About Her will delve into the defining moments of Charwe’s life and how a woman guided those who wanted to lead Zimbabwe. In her dying words, still possessed by Nehanda, Charwe is quoted to have said “My bones will surely rise”. In present day Zimbabwe, through all of my country’s turmoil, a question has always floated: “When will Nehanda rise to guide us again/Can she not see the turmoil we’re in?” My question is: What’s not to say her bones are the women rising to lead Zimbabwe in various sectors? Each time the people of Zimbabwe have been in trouble, the spirit of Nehanda has taken possession, advised and helped fortify them. “Trouble” has become diverse. The women of Zimbabwe are diverse in their defining stories.
The relationship between reality and the supernatural is an ongoing battle we struggle with as Zimbabwean women as we fail to own our history and its traditions in fear of being labelled as hedonistic. Told in binaural (3D) sound with a 360 tour of some of Zimbabwe’s traditional spaces associated with these women, I Am A Woman Defined/Stories About Her will provide women, and men alike, with proverbial “step into my shoes” experiential opportunity to find out what the environment could have possibly been like for these women.
Let us tell you a story.
Stories About Her.
Zimbabwe is She.