Maureen Sigauke, Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity, and a social justice and labor activist based in Zimbabwe, took part in the Atlantic Institute's Blog and Op-Ed Workshop on Sept. 9, 2020. She has written this blog about learnings from the session led by Sarah Anderson.
2020 has been a reminder of Heraclitus iconic and wise words – “The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change”. For months now, life as I experienced and knew it has changed. Sadly, for the global and local communities I serve in, the changes have been anything but good! As from the moment I woke up, for months now, I have made it a point to remind myself that I had to change with the world as it evolved. If I was to remain the active citizen I have always aspired to be, I had to ready and equip myself with skills that would make me adapt to the times for social justice and equality.
The Coronavirus pandemic has exposed already existing social justice crevices and, in most cases, has widened the cracks. In my beautiful motherland, Zimbabwe, human rights deficits were still the order of the day as the government continued to violently thwart dissenting views. With each passing day the poorer were becoming poorer as many who had been involuntarily relegated to the informal economy were robbed of their livelihoods by the Corona-induced lockdown restrictions. With all the woes associated to the virus, continuous writing and information sharing is one sure way of having a critical tool of organizing. If I was to remain the active citizen I have always aspired to be, I had to upgrade my writing skills. I need to be more effective to influence change. The Op-Ed and Blog Writing Skills Workshop, hosted by the Atlantic Institute, was timely and just what I needed.
Having brought together fellows from all parts of the world, the skills workshop was well-thought through, interactive, informative and practical. Sarah Anderson’s experience shone throughout the workshop as she contextualized issues in a geographically and culturally sensitive manner. The workshop reiterated my key takeaway from fellowship year – that storytelling is powerful in activating change. As an activist and changemaker, if I was to organize effectively, I have to tell stories that educate, inspire and incite action. Grass-root action has to be grounded on facts, research and evidence. The workshop opened up to me how to use the Facts, Ideas, Story and Hook (FISH) method and turn dry, inaccessible academic writing into something palatable to the common man and woman. The practical tasks that were so cleverly allotted for the two-hour training served to expose areas I knew I had to work on myself.
It is my every intention to adapt to the new normal. It is my intention to ‘up’ my activism because it is in crisis that leadership is truly needed. It is now my intention to write for change in these times when mobility and traditional organizing mechanisms are so restricted. Thanks to the Atlantic Institute team and Sarah’s expertise, I have the FISH method which I can now use as checkboard for my future writings.