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Coming from Zimbabwe, I don’t take voting lightly: Danai Gurira

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  • "My parents grew up in a nation they could not vote in, and their parents could not vote in." - Danai Jekesai Gurira.

By Mutsa Makuvaza

AMERICAN-Zimbabwean film star Danai Jekesai Gurira says thanks to her Zimbabwean experience with elections, she values her right to vote seriously and is encouraging all legible Americans to go and vote in this week’s 2020 Presidential elections which pit incumbent Donald Trump against Democratic contender Joe Biden.

The 2020 United States presidential election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 3, 2020. It will be the 59th quadrennial presidential election.

Playwright and actress Gurira, best known for her role in Black Panther, spoke on The Carlos Watson Show about the importance of voting, drawing on her lessons from her country of origin Zimbabwe.

The 42-year-old Danai revealed she has been involved in political efforts before, but not in Zimbabwe. However, she reckons that her Zimbabwean experience could come in handy for the American voter, especially minorities.

“In 2016, I traveled through a lot of states (in the US) and really was trying to get out the vote effort during that time, and met a lot of young people who were choosing not to vote. And that was … it was a hard thing to hear that and to hear people make that decision, knowing exactly what you said.

“I come from a country … I was born two years before all Zimbabweans were able to vote after colonial rule [was] toppled in 1980. And so literally, my parents were only able to vote really in their 40s in the country of my origin, where I then grew up.

“And so it is something that is close to me in that regard, that I know how hard fought it is. My parents grew up in a nation they could not vote in, and their parents could not vote in.

“And of course, here in the United States, we are 100 years this year from the 19th Amendment where women gained the right to vote and then even more of a fight further along the civil rights movement for Black women to be able to vote.… So it’’s not something that we can take lightly,” said Gurira, whose childhood alternated between living in Zimbabwe and the US.

Gurira said the year 2020 has come with a lot of challenges and as a playwright, she too “can feel a lot of frustration, a lot of helplessness”.

“How do I help? How do I contribute at this moment? And as playwrights, we see the institutions, theaters are of course very much hard-hit by COVID and unable to function at all. And so there was just a desire that hit me one day to connect with other playwrights and try to give voice to the Americans we often don’t hear from.

“Our job as playwrights is really that, to reflect society back to itself, and so we really thought like maybe … I called Tarell [Alvin] McCraney. I called Jocelyn Bioh. And I called Lynn Nottage.

“And I was like, “What do you guys think about just trying to give voice in a way that we can’t just encourage folks to contribute that, really saying, ‘Let’s vote, guys, let’s make sure we vote this time.’” I mean, it’s a lot of loss of voice when we see how little people have voted in the past.

“And apparently, there were at least 100 million eligible voters who did not vote in 2016. So it’s just really giving voice to voices and just encouraging people to get out and vote and to give some material also to the theaters that we love and that have supported us and that need support right now in this time,” Gurira said. – Zimbabwe Voice

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