int_far_300x250Dear Petina Gappah:

It is a pleasure writing this letter to you as you have ignored my request to have you engage me concerning a video about my latest song Kubata Mwana Chibharo (Child rape).So far I am very pleased that the song has been liked by many people who have listened to it. My worry in the meantime is why you chose to harass Betty Makoni begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting for liking my song and video without harassing me, the artist who posted that video. I think it is only fair that you share your views about the video with me instead of bothering people who like it.

The messages that you and Betty wrote to each other concerning the video, which are in my possession as you already know are proof enough that you are harassing Betty Makoni begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting for liking my video. I am kindly asking you to respect the choices of those who like and admire my work. There are many other people who don’t like my work and it is very wrong for anyone to harass them on why they don’t like my work. People have different views about certain issues and I strongly believe that we learn to respect our different views and also learn to stop back biting but be open with each other.

After reading all your messages I concluded that you are harassing Betty Makoni begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting, you don’t understand how I work and your concerns are not genuine .I could be wrong but that is how I understood your communication to Betty.

Many people who disagree with my views say it directly or write me private messages but you chose to harass Betty Makoni begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting for liking my video behind my back which I think is very irresponsible, childish and inappropriate. Let us learn to engage each other openly and stop speaking behind each other’s backs. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with my video. When we are faced with differences in opinions it is advisable to discuss openly and share our different views as we learn from each other.

Don’t think that when you share your views with someone else it is a must that they must agree with you. People are different and view issues differently. Let us learn to respect other people’s views without harassing or terrorising each other. You have the right to be heard yes but the person who was supposed to hear you is me. That is why Betty Makoni begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting kept on referring you to me as she explained that the right person to talk to is myself. You should have just respected her wish and then approach me.
I believe in transparency and I am well known for being always there to discuss different issues with anyone and I am well known for being a free expression supporter who gives everyone their right to be heard no matter who the person is.

1.You wrote “………. I wanted to tell you personally how disappointed I am that you support Viomak’s video.”

My comment is .You are infringing on her right to choose what she likes which is dictatorship.There’s no need for you to be disappointed by what she likes as her reasons for liking th evideo are different from your reasons for not liking the video. I am strongly against such kind of dictatorial tendencies where someone thinks because she doesn’t want something it therefore means that everyone should not like the thing. I would have appreciated it had you contacted me to discuss the video instead of harassing someone who liked it.

2. You wrote “If anyone really needs to have awareness raised by watching videos of women and girls being violated, then this is very troubling. And what about the ethics of this? Are these women aware that they are part of a music video? Is this not the same degradation that we claim to be fighting?

My comment is. Betty Makoni begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting did not put up that video or compile the pictures so it is wrong for anyone to shower her with such kind of questions as she doesn’t even know who the women in the video are.Please be reminded that that video was posted by me and if you need to know more about it may you please contact me and stop harassing someone over a video that she did not produce.

3. You wrote “I do not know viomak, we are not friends in life or on facebook, and frankly, after this I will run the other way if I ever see her. My reason for emailing you was to express concern regarding your views because, as I said, I like and respect you.”

My comment is. I don’t understand why you have to run the other way if ever you see me.That is hatred to say the laest.Because I posted a video that you disagree with doesn’t mean we should be enemies unless you have a hidden agenda. We can always meet and greet each other even if you are not pleased by the video.How would you feel if all those who don’t like your book run the other way if they see you? It is not a sin to disagree so I suggest you come and meet me and hug me if you see me instead of running the other way. It is hard to believe that you would run the other way Petina just because I posted a video that you dislike. If you dislike the video approach me and share your views. You have the right to be heard.

4.You wrote “Then there is nothing to discuss because this suggests that your views and actions are above reproach and beyond criticism.

My comment is.When Betty said she works “in area for girls and am a global champion in this and know every rule to it and my wall will tell you all “it means she knows all about her work which is good. I’m sure when someone approaches you and criticises your literary works you can also say the same if you are an expert in your work. So when someone tells you that they know all about their work is it not proper to leave them alone and respect the fact that they know everything. Why should you force them to accept criticism when there is nothing to criticise?

5.You wrote “You may have been working in this area all your life, you may be a victim of rape, but this does not give you the ultimate authority on it. There are many other valid perspectives. And mine is simply that it is outrageous to show naked bodies of women and children being mutilated and attacked. She can have her song, you can have an effective campaign without exceeding the bounds of ethics, without further degrading women and girls who have been traumatised enough. This is a form of poverty porn which is highly distasteful and unnecessary.”

My comment is. I am the one who posted that video and the pictures and harassing Betty about it is uncalled for ,especially after she told you over and over that you should approach me and share your views with me. I also requested that you appraoch me to discuss the video but unfortunately you ignored my request.I am surprised why you refused to discuss my video with but chose to gossip about it without seeking clarification from me even though I had asked that you talk to me about it .

6. You wrote“I was disappointed that you and ……lavished comment after comment on this, this is why I wrote to you.”

My comment is.If you don’t like something do not be disappointed that others do like it, but get to understand why they like it. How would you feel if I write such kind of private messages to those who lavish comment after comment on your books? Let us learn to understand that even if we don’t like some poeple ‘s works there are other people who like their work.

7.You wrote ”As for Bona Mugabe, certainly, people have commented, but you must also take responsibility for posting the story on your wall. You surely knew what kind of comments would come from it. I would prefer accusations of rape to handled sensitively, especially where they are speculative.This is rumour, there is no court case here to discuss. Bona has not made a statement on this. Why not respect womens right to her privacy, why, just as in the Makanaka case, must we pronounce and speculate on young women who are competent to speak for themselves if they wish to do so?

My comment is.Who are you to decide what Betty should post on her wall? She has been a child rights activist for more than 10 years and if the truth be told I am sure she is an expert in such issues. How would you feel if she starts dictating the kind of books you should post on your wall? Why not allow her to do her work according to how she understands it especially after she told you several times that she knows what she is doing? You cannot be a lawyer on her facebook wall. If she doesn’t want your criticism why force it down her throat? Do you take all criticism that comes your way about your books? I’m sure you don’t. So why not respect others as they do their work in the same way you would like to be respected as you write your books?

8. You wrote “Those images are gratuitous which means they are not necessary to tell whatever story Viomak is telling. They are cheap and manipulative. You can make a song about rape without showing women being raped. The people in those videos are real. Just as they did not give consent to be raped and cut, they did not give consent to have their images filmed and used in a song. This is where the ethical dimension comes in.

My comment is .That video was posted by me and the best person to answer your queries is me. How do you know the story that I am telling without getting clarification from me? How do you know that I was not given consent to have their images used in a video? Did you get the confirmation from me or you are just suspecting? We should learn to communicate openly .I find your comment to be very degrading. Who are you to tell me if the images are not necessary to tell my story? Do you even know the stories that I am telling? Let us learn to seek clarification than rush to say this is not necessary as chances are you don’t know all the reasons why the images were used or how they came up to be in my video. I have the answer and you don’t know the answer I have unless you clarify with me. So why not contact me so we discuss the issue.

9. You wrote “I did not, and will never tell you or … or anyone else what to do. I only wrote to say I am disappointed in the stance you have taken on this. I have not said you should end your friendship with Viomak or anything like that. I merely expressed my disappointment.”

My comment is .You wrote to Betty telling her what to do even though you deny that you never told her what to do and I quote one example below among others when you wrote telling her what to do,

“On Makanaka, I did not make a personal attack on you. I said that it is not right to go on and on about the girl being a rape victim when she would rather not see herself in those terms. There are different ways people cope … she had consensual sex with an older man. yes, the law says that is satutory rape because she was under 16. but this cannot possibly compare to a child of 5 being raped. Makanaka was a teenager. teenagers have sex. She does not wish to be a victim. so stop going on about her life. if that is a personal attack, then I am sorry you see it that way.”

10 You wrote “As for Bona Mugabe. This may have been in the news, but not everything in the news is discussed on Facebook. my point here was simply that I expected you to be more sensitive about posting a speculative story on rape.”

My comment is who are you to choose for Betty the type of news she should discuss on her wall? You have your facebook wall and how would you feel if someone dictates the type of literary works you should discuss on your wall? Why not respect others and stop dictating what they should post on their walls. You have your wall and I fail to understand why you are so much worried about what Betty should post on her wall. Advising each other is good but Betty told you that she is right and it is upon you to respect her views and leave her alone.

11.You wrote ” Like Viomak and Betty, they think anything is justified in the name of “raising awareness”. And they have been so puffed up with human rights awards and international attention that they assume any criticism must come from their enemies. So the immediate response is the kind Betty gives whenever anyone says something even mildly critical on her Facebook wall.Instead of addressing the criticism, she attacks and then reminds everyone she is an activist who knows it all. She did it again in these messages.”

My comment is did you ever hear me saying I think anything is justified in the name of “raising awareness”. When did I say that to you? Isn’t I kindly asked you to contact me concerning the video but you ignored my request only to go and harass Betty about liking it. I have the communication between Betty and yourself and I don’t see anywhere where you were being attacked but she shared her views honestly with you. You don’t expect everyone to say yes the lawyer has spoken so all have to listen to her. Mind you Facebook is not a magistrate’s court where you defend rapists and murderers, so it is upon you to understand that you should not dictate what Betty is doing on her wall or what she should like especially after she explained to you several times that she is right . Where did you get news that I am so puffed up with human rights awards? Personally I have not received any human rights award and so spreading such kind of lies about me is malicious and irresponsible. I also notice that you could be bothered by the fact that Betty has reached great lengths and is now an international figure something you most likely is not happy about. I am sure we see her working very hard to be where she is now. These petty jealousies that have seen women fail to progress and work together well should be a thing of the past Petina. Let us respect each other.

12. You wrote “Shamwari, you are on dangerous ground. You essentially threatening to defame me. If you publish anything of this nature, whether on Facebook or elsewhere, I will take every legal means available to protect myself. You may threaten others if you care to, but you do not issue defamatory statements about me and expect to get away with it.”

My comment is .Does it have to come to all this because of my video or there is something else that I am missing that you did not discuss in your communication with Betty? If it is my video please I beg you to leave everyone else out of it but approach me and let us share your views. Where is the dangerous ground? Is it because you are a lawyer so you can easily file a case against Betty, even if she is right or what? You don’t expect that you approach someone with your different views and the person smiles when you harass and torment her over something she likes.

13.You wrote “ I am now declaring war on the staggering arrogance of civil society activists. Just because you are speaking for the “oppressed” does not mean you are above criticism. Just because you are “fighting for victims” does not mean you can do anything at all and get a big cheer. Enough. I declare war.”

My comment is. You are just jealousy Petina Gappah which is very bad and sad for women.I don’t understand why a woman like you would stoop so low to want to declare war on civil society activists just because Betty Makoni begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting doesn’t agree with your views. Why would a woman, a lawyer for that matter talk about declaring war on civil society activists when there is no reason to do that . When someone differs with you it doesn’t mean they are arrogant. When are people going to feel free to share their different views without being given labels? Betty is not there to be pushed by you. She is not your client. Declare the war and let us see where the war will get the civil society activists to. Just be reminded that you are not the only one who is able to fire bullets and know that some territories will be protected from the enemy by all means possible. It is shocking that you are declaring war on an issue that just needed you to share your views with me in peace like everyone else. When people start speaking like Robert Mugabe I get worried.

Set up a civil society activist group to monitor civil society activists and we will see how far you can go with that type of mentality. You don’t just treat other people as non entities and give me the impression that you think you know everything since you are a lawyer and so everyone should share the same views with you. You say being a human rights activist is now an industry in Zimbabwe and yes it has to because of the dictator ruling our country. So you expect Zimbabweans to just sit down and watch whilst Mugabe is oppressing masses? You can write your books and allow those who want to fight for human rights to do so. You are also free to join the human rights industry if you want to.

When you sent your private message to Betty expressing your disagreement with the views expressed by a well-known human rights activist you were not threatened with “exposure” but Betty advised you that she will do a press release about the issue, a right she has. I suggest you contact the well-known human rights activist with your views instead of harassing Betty. If anything that I quoted here is false please let me know so that I show all the messages you wrote concerning the issue. I hope when we meet we will treat each other like sisters and not run away in different directions. The truth will set us free and bind us together. Please feel free to contact me instead of harassing others.

Protest Singer and Activist VioMak

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