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Published on Nov 23, 2009
More at http://www.theuptake.org Excerpt from President Obama's Speech: Magodonga Mahlangu and the organization that she helps lead -- WOZA, which stands for Women of Zimbabwe Arise, and is represented tonight by one of its founders, Jenni Williams. As a young girl raised in Matabeleland -- in the Matabeleland region of Zimbabwe in the early 1980s, Magodonga witnessed the -- I've got to make sure I get this right -- Gukurahundi massacres -- the systematic murder of many thousands of people, including her uncle and several cousins -- many of whom were buried in mass graves that they'd been forced to dig themselves. She witnessed the fearful silence that followed, as talking about these events was forbidden. Magodonga found this to be intolerable. She wanted to speak out -- she wanted people to know the truth about what was happening in her country. So it was a revelation when, years later, she discovered a group called WOZA whose mission is the very opposite of silence. WOZA was started back in 2003 to empower women to speak out about the issues affecting their families and their country -- desperate hunger; crumbling health and education systems; domestic violence and rape; and government repression ranging from restrictions on free expression to abduction and murder of dissidents. WOZA's guiding principle is "tough love" -- the idea that political leaders in Zimbabwe could use a little discipline. And who better to provide that than the nation's mothers? Since its founding, the organization has grown from a handful of activists to a movement of 75,000 strong. There's even a men's branch, I understand -- MOZA. And over the past seven years, they have conducted more than a hundred protests -- maids and hairdressers, vegetable sellers and seamstresses, taking to the streets; singing and dancing; banging on pots empty of food and brandishing brooms to express their wish to sweep the government clean.