Award winning musician and professional model, Rudo Nyoni, popularly known as Rudo Amor, is not a stranger to speaking out about Gender Based Violence (GBV). She took time to share her experiences with us, and to give a few words of encouragement to women who are afraid to leave abusive relationships.
You’ve had all the success as a musician and professional model; however, you have also experienced your fair share of heartbreak, as well as ‘aggressive’ partners in relationships, as you put it. You actually did an Instragram post quite recently, about a very emotionally abusive relationship which you managed to get out of. Can you tell us briefly about that, and how you managed to pull yourself out of those kinds of relationships?
I was involved with a guy I had known for years and we dated for almost 4 years. At first he was the perfect gentleman; he was sweet, thoughtful, funny, and he would sing to me… but then things started changing! He started getting jealous of my friends and the amount of time I would spend with them, till he would insist on seeing me every day, and he would humiliate me in public by shouting at me or making me feel stupid. I thought it was a bit much, but because I was in love and wanted him to be happy and secure, I went along with this. He then started getting emotionally abusive when we would argue, and most times it was about how I had somehow disrespected him. He would lock his office door and shout at me for hours, and tell me not to speak. He would punch walls and break chairs at times. I was terrified to do anything, so I would just sit there and try to calm him down, which would only make him worse, until one day he “accidentally” hit my jaw. But even after that, I stayed. I broke it off after spending more time in prayer and with my friends who never gave up on me. I believe if it wasn’t for God and for those good friends of mine, I would have married him, despite the fact that I was so miserable.
At some point a few years ago you were dating someone else, and you went as far as calling off your wedding to him just three or four days before the big day. Can you tell us more about that situation, and what gave you the strength and courage to put yourself first and get out of an unhappy relationship, despite the fact that you had spent thousands of your own money on the wedding preparations and knowing that people will talk?
Firstly I would like to say there was nothing really wrong with my ex, he was a great guy and very passionate about God. We just were not meant to be together, and God made it very clear towards the wedding. I still feel like I was a fool at times for not asking more questions, and why I could not just put my foot down and refuse to pay for the things we agreed to get for the wedding, and why I believed in him so much. But well, I was naïve and in love, and under the philosophy that ‘you always trust your man’.
A lot of people thought that I was the one pushing for the wedding, because people could see that he wasn’t ready for the financial commitments involved, but I believed him when he said he had it all figured out. So when he came to me a week before the wedding to tell me that he had no money and couldn’t pay me back or pay his portion of the wedding, and that he had been lying about his business and finances, I forgave him – on the condition that he wouldn’t lie to me again, and that he would ask his parents to assist him, and I would get mine to do the same. Well… that promise was broken two days later when he asked me to postpone the wedding and forfeit all the deposits and money I had paid for, so that we could then have the wedding in the manner which his father wanted. I felt shattered because I had worked 7 days a week, seeing service providers and making payments, and he didn’t even appreciate the efforts I had made and would still want to please his father, even though the father wasn’t willing to contribute.
I had been praying and fasting the previous two weeks with my mum, so I somehow found the strength to call off the wedding and engagement. My eyes were opened and I realized that things would never change, and that if I continued, I would be doomed to a life of investing myself in a relationship where I hardly get any support from him, and that our lives would be dictated by his family and what they wanted. I chose to leave for the sake of my peace of mind, and it was a very difficult decision to make because we were attending the same church and horrible things were said about me, even though I was the one who was betrayed and financially drained. I recovered no funds, but I turned it around and donated a lot of the things I had paid for to other brides and people as a seed offering to God. It was the strength of my family, especially my mum who would sleep with me for a month, praying for me daily after the break up, the relatives who drove from Harare just to see me, and relatives who called, and friends who prayed for me and my grandfather’s love and support that brought me through it. I did not return to my former church because too much was said, and I felt I could not heal and move on if I continued going there.
You have had all the success as a professional model for corporates and big organisations. Can you tell us if you have faced (or continue to face) any form of gender-based discrimination, seeing as most firms are usually male-dominated, and if yes, what did/do you do to stop that from happening?
I have been fortunate to have worked with big brands such as P.P.C, Edgars, Econet, Delta etc., and to have been under a great agency, AM Model Management, and these great companies I have mentioned were so professional. I was shielded from unsolicited attention most times, except for events that were with other companies and event organisers. As I am also a singer, most events are organized by men and sometimes the lines of professionalism are blurred, especially when dealing directly with them, and even in terms of music producers.
It isn’t easy being a female singer and model in Zimbabwe… well Africa in general (laughs); because we are taught as females from a young age to respect men, specifically older men, as they are ‘father figures’, but there are so many times that men try to take advantage. I’ve had cases where I have had men approach me wanting to be my manager or offer opportunities, only to then try to date me, and when I would refuse, the show would be cancelled or the deal withdrawn. I have since learnt that the only way to deal with these things and to stop them from happening, is by avoiding meeting potential male managers and booking agents and promoters alone. Through the grooming lessons I have conducted with Open Eye Studio (owned by Samantha Tshuma), I have highlighted the need for models to set boundaries and personal goals, so that no one can attempt to take advantage of them and succeed in doing so all because of an ‘opportunity’. I continue to talk to models and singers about the dangers in the arts industry and the business world in general.
The world has just been commemorating 16 Days of Activism Against GBV. What have you as an influential person in Bulawayo done during this period to raise awareness of the need to curb GBV?
During this period I have used my social media to share on my own experiences, and we have a series we are working on under SisNxtGen. We want to focus on the root cause of GBV, which in most cases is how a child is brought up. We have many boys growing up being told to not show their emotions because that is weakness and it’s only for girls, and as such, some grow up with anger and resentment, and because they were not taught healthy ways of expressing their emotions, they lash out at women and men and children. We also have girls growing up being conditioned for abusive relationships through watching their mothers being abused, and being told that this is normal and okay. I believe that raising awareness must be a daily thing and not just over a certain timeframe, as cases of GBV keep rising and have alarmingly done so during this Covid-19 pandemic.
You are currently the Programme Manager for SisNxtGen, an intitiative founded by Culture Fund Zimbabwe and supported by EU in Zimbabwe, whose aim is to train upcoming female musicians in production, management, sound engineering, radio presenting, podcast and DJing. What inspired your decision to want to get involved in that kind of a programme?
As a female musician having faced so many challenges in music production, like how to communicate to producers exactly what I want when recording, and the lockdown forcing music recording to come to a stop, I decided with the team that we have to come up with a programme to address such issues. You will also notice that there are very few female music producers and sound engineers in Zimbabwe, and those professions have been male dominated for years, worldwide.
In your opinion, do you think that such programmes are useful in empowering women to become independent and to stand up for themselves? Are you already seeing tangible results from this particular programme?
We believe that this initiative will firstly empower young female artists to get more control over their music, and be able to produce for themselves and other artists. The various programmes which we are running will assist them to earn an income in fields normally reserved for men.
We have already finished the Music Business Management trainings where 15 females were trained and I watched them come out of their shells and regain confidence that they could make it in the music industry. Some who are already managers have already begun implementing the information they received with the artists they are managing.
We completed the training in Music Recording and Production on the 19th of December, and some of our participants have already almost completed their own original compositions. All the participants now know how to set up a studio, capture vocals and instruments, and have learnt the basics in mixing.
Cases of GBV have been on the rise this year, especially during lockdown. What are your words of advice to women who would love to get out of abusive relationships, but because of financial dependency, and cultural and societal norms, are finding themselves stuck in those situations?
You are fearfully and wonderfully made by God, and He is your source – not a man, and if He is in your corner, then He will provide for you, if you will just believe that everything you need in life to survive and succeed is already inside of you. You carry gifts inside of you that only you can give, and no man can ever take that away. You have the potential to carry and give birth to life, and that is by far the greatest miracle on earth.
Remember that you can only live your life once, and once its gone, you can not get it back or redo it. So today, decide to choose to love yourself enough to leave that man who doesn’t love you, and let the man who was created for you love you as you were created to be. “Love is patient, kind, doesn’t envy, doesn’t boast, it doesn’t dishonour others, it is slow to anger, forgives all things, it protects always, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres; love never fails”. 1st Corinthians 13:4-8 (paraphrased).
Connect with Rudo Amor
Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu
Unprepared and Offended
We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters. ~ Gloria Steinem
For years tension has been building between the sexes, a battle line has been drawn, and if we are being honest, noone knows when this happened. It is evident in movements like the Men’s Rights Movement and the christened ‘Third Wave of Feminism’. Somehow it has become a ‘Men vs. Women’ world in a reality where we honestly need each other to evolve and survive.
In a past article I spoke about how of late we tend to make everything about gender; a man behaves badly, it’s because he is a man. If a woman abuses her spouse, it is because she is a woman and privileged. In our bid to simplify the issues each sex meets in life and figuring out who’s to blame, we have cultivated so much contempt and mistrust. According to actress, Emma Watson, “It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum, instead of two sets of opposing ideals”.
I recently had a conversation with an educated lady who pointed out a huge factor in the case of the modern woman and man. Men and boys were never prepared for the empowered, educated and powerful woman point-blank. Think about it; when you are born into societies where two parties hold such suspicion and resentment towards each other, what happens when we try to evolve and grow? Further misunderstanding and skepticism, and the game of broken telephone continues.
Whether it be in the African setting or European household, women have generally played the subservient role; treed away from major roles in powerful spaces like politics or law enforcement, asked only to entertain with their feminine appealing looks, and valued for procreation.
With the rise of feminism, women were encouraged to be just as daring as men, confident, and commanding. Women started entering the workforce, voting, started businesses… oh what a time it was! However, no one thought to prepare boys and men for this evolution of the woman, and unfortunately, it has ended in a stand-off.
The modern-day educated and working woman is often persecuted and made to feel guilty for having aspirations beyond a household and a spouse. Speaking from an African perspective, I will go as far as to say the modern woman is seen as less than. I have been genuinely warned to not get ‘too educated’, as I will be hard to marry off.
On a social level, boys and men have and are still being taught that to be a ‘man’, a woman or several have to be at their mercy, inferior, and often in a position of humiliation. A woman being intelligent and insightful is equated to a man being less than. One would think that logically, having a working and educated wife would add to the quality of an ideal spouse and life partner. Many households are plagued with violence of all kinds created by insecurities which young boys are taught and carry into adulthood.
The tension has gotten to a point where women are either taking too long to marry, or forgoing the experience altogether. Such actions will have ramifications on society, but the biggest question is whether they will be positive or negative? One asks, “Ok, we have identified the issue, now how do we correct it?” The truth is that the fix is tedious, and it requires dedication from parents and adults around young boys. In the famous words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “Culture does not make people. People make culture.”
The perception of the opposite sex and the dynamics of man and woman are topics taught from the tender stage of infancy, hence the nuclear family unit is where the work should start. Boys should be taught that it’s ok if a girl is better than you in a sport or at a job, her capabilities shouldn’t translate to your self-worth. “We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters,” says Gloria Steinem.
Let us be brave enough to teach boys to not see girls as the benchmark of weakness and inadequacy. Teach boys to not to be sore losers who rather than be motivated to do better next time, lash out at girls and women who excel. Let us make phrases like ‘throws like a girl‘, ‘fights like a girl’, a positive thing; if I am a girl, how else am I to throw, fight, etc.?
Zambian professional soccer star, Barbara Banda made history at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo by becoming the first woman to achieve multiple hat tricks in a single Olympic event.
They say it’s better late than never. The month of August’s significance is one that originated in South Africa after more than 20 000 women from all walks of life united in a mass demonstration walking towards the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
The strength and audacity exercised by women like Helen Joseph and Albertina Sisulu on August 9th 1956 are virtues that young African and black women alike can look up to in today’s world. For this year’s just ended National Women’s Month, I would like to shine a bright light on the black girl magic that has been going around in Africa and around the globe lately.
It is the time of the black woman to shine, not to say she couldn’t before, but the world right now is giving black women, as they say these days, ‘their roses while they’re alive to smell them’.
I will kick off this magical show with a feat I am sure many will agree is a game-changer. Kamala Devi Harris, the 49th Vice President of U.S.A. This biracial black woman of South Asian descent is moving in circles which women with any trace of melanin complexion couldn’t even dream of being included in for centuries. Harris’ position as Vice President of the most powerful nation on the planet gives women of colour, old and young, a sense of pride.
Her success also gives us another platform to discuss and grow; Harris’ sex and race are not all she is but they play a large role in the world she lives in. With time we can only hope the novelty wears off.
Zambian professional football star, Barbara Banda made history at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. She has become the first woman to achieve multiple hat tricks in a single Olympic event. The Zambian Women’s soccer squad’s captain is the first African woman to achieve a hat trick in Olympic history ever. Furthermore, she now holds the women’s record for most Olympic goals scored by an African. The 21-year-old is a striker who began her professional career in 2018 playing with Logrono in Spain; she scored 16 goals in 28 games. Banda came to the Olympics an unknown, but has left a name for the history books.
Earlier this year we were impressed and elated to learn that the Miss South Africa pageant would be opening its doors to Transgender participants. Lehlogonolo Machaba took this invitation and ran with it, becoming the first openly transgender participant to make the top 30 of the competition.
“Everything I do as a dark-skinned, transgender woman is a statement. My mere existence in society is threatening, and there’s a lot of closet transgender women who are afraid to come out in fear of receiving hate and even worse, being killed. By doing this I am helping all those women to know that there’s still hope and the world is changing for good, slowly but surely,” Machaba said.
Machaba works as a model booker at Invade Models, and is also the founder of the DeMollies fashion brand. She has a Diploma in Fashion Design technology from the Tshwane University of Technology.
Hailing from the western African nation of Nigeria is innovator and businesswoman, Oluwayimika Angel Adelaja. Adelaja’s two businesses Fresh Direct Produce and We Farm Africa are innovating farming technology, a feat that couldn’t come at a better time considering global warming and all. Adelaja is leading the crowd with her revolutionary stackable container farms that ease the strain on land use and opens up the world of fresh quality food to urban populations.
Adelaja’s organic urban farms require way less land and water in comparison with traditional farming methods, and all while producing a yield 15times higher. Adelaja’s food shortage solutions and farming techniques all work towards creating a cohesive agricultural chain of production and creates opportunities for Africans. Adelaja also works towards the empowerment of women and developmental economics, and still holds positions like Special Assistant to the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Poverty Alleviation and National Coordinator and Consultant to the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Wealth Creation.
In the world of poetry, Dasha Kelly Hamilton is the first black woman to be named the Wisconsin Poet Laureate in its 20years of existence. Her primary objective as the award holder is to be an ambassador who encourages poetry throughout her tenure of 2years. Hamilton will be receiving a stipend of US$2,500 and a residency at Shake Rag Alley Centre for Arts in Mineral Point.
Brenda Katwesigye saw something broken in a system and set out to correct it; the result is Wazi Vision. The Ugandan native became concerned with the high cost of eyecare back in 2015 during a personal visit and launched Wazi Vision in 2016. Wazi Vision provides free eyes tests at schools and rural areas; the startup has even developed an app that incorporates virtual reality in visual tests.
The company also uses recycled materials in manufacturing their glasses which cuts the cost of glasses. In 2018, Wazi Vision was named in the Forbes Top 60 Woman-led Startups that are shaking up Africa, and Katwesigye was named as one of Quartz Africa’s top 30 Innovators. I could go on and on, black girl magic is upon us, and backwards never my melanin beauties.
The Strength Of A Woman – Celebrating National Women’s Month
To be a woman is to reject being known as a strong woman, because our value goes beyond our expectation to be confronted by pain.
Reflections By Rorisang Moyo
Kumkanikazi. Mofumahadi. Mfumukazi. Queen.
You are most of the time overlooked, undermined,
stifled, frustrated. Scorched by fire, dipped in water;
yet pressure does not end you, it elevates you to
your fullest potential.
This does not mean that to be a woman means
pain is romanticised. To be a woman is to reject
being known as a strong woman, because our value
goes beyond our expectation to be confronted by
To be a woman means to feel things deeply in
their entirety, to be at one with the earth and how it
works. After all, it is through us that great men and
women continue to be born, and to take their place
on this earth.
Woman means beauty, strength, community,
trendsetter, lover, and fighter. To be a girl child and
a daughter, means potential and endless possibilities.
The privilege of standing on the shoulders of
giants, a community of other women; women who
have paved the way for you to live without any barriers – ever-changing, limitless and fluid.
No person alive can put a lid on the power of woman.
Photography by Jeremy Kupfuwa, IG @remyshoots
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