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Researcher Urges Zimbabwe to Address Gukurahundi Atrocities


Cynthia Chigwenya delivering her TedTalk

A Zimbabwean researcher based in South Africa says there is need for the Southern African nation to address Gukurahundi atrocities of the 1980s if the nation wants to succeed.

Cynthia Chigwenya, who made these remarks recently when she delivered her speech at the 2019 TedxLyttleton Women event held in Johannesburg, compared Zimbabwe to Rwanda. Chigwenya highlighted how Rwanda went through a genocide in 1994 and addressed it, a move that she believes led to the nation’s economic boom.

According to Chigwenya, there could be significant development in the country if Zimbabwe addresses the Gukurahundi massacres.

“Most of the governments focus on economic development without bearing much to the fact that for an economy to be built, it has its foundation on the society, and once the society is divided because of injustice that is perpetrated by the government, it needs to redress that. Rwanda took the initiative to redress the mass killings of 1994. If you look at their economic development, it is one of the most rapid growing economies in Africa right now. That is owed to redressing the 1994 genocide and injustices that occurred.”

Chigwenya giving a Tedtalk in Johannesburg
Chigwenya giving a Tedtalk in Johannesburg

When asked why she chose to focus on the 1994 Rwanda genocide and the Gukurahundi massacres, Chigwenya stressed her aspirations for reconstruction and development in Zimbabwe regarding the Gukurahundi massacres.

“The reason why I chose to revisit this period of conflict is the fact that in contemporary affairs, we are having an economic crisis and we tend to forget that there is an injustice that occurred during this period. This injustice is not owed to the colonial regime, but was an injustice that was perpetrated after Zimbabwe gained its independence. This is something that we as a nation need to redress.”

2019 TedXLyttleton Women Panel
2019 TedXLyttleton Women Panel

Chigwenya urges Zimbabwean youth to use their access to social media to their advantage to break communication barriers that older generations had and talk about the Gukurahundi massacres and formulate a way forward for Zimbabwe.

TedxLyttleton Women is an annual three-day event held in Johannesburg, South Africa, which seeks to not only provide a platform to some of the world’s most inspired thinkers allowing them to engage each other, but it also targets promoting women and girls to become creators and change-makers.

Cynthia Chigwenya is a South Africa based researcher, who is currently pursuing a postgraduate degree in development studies with a focus on post-conflict reconstruction and development. In 2018, Chigwenya spent some time in Rwanda studying the effects of the 1994 genocide.

The talk given by Chigwenya, which left a predominantly South African crowd looking to learn more about Zimbabwean history and the Gukurahundi massacres, will soon be made available on Youtube on the TedxLyttleton Women page. For more details, either message Cynthia on Facebook or follow her on Twitter under the username cy_chigwenya.

Over 20,000 people were killed during the height of the Gukurahundi atrocities in the 1980s resulting in the signing of a unity agreement between then bitter rivals, PF Zapu and Zanu PF.

South Africa based Zimbabwean delivers Tedtalk
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