WHY INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY IS IMPORTANT FOR STRUGGLE: EXPERIENCES FROM USA
EmaSwati For Change (EFC) came into being in 2021 following the deadliest massacre in modern Swazi history.
Fast forward two and a half years later, EFC finds itself navigating the intricate world of diaspora activism, advocating the Swazi cause in global discussions on human rights and governance. The path has been a steep learning curve, with opportunities for meaningful conversations often hard to come by.
Yet, the doors that have opened have significantly moulded our perspectives. The aftermath of the 2021 uprising witnessed an upsurge in activism, Swazis at home and abroad taking to the streets, presenting petitions, and engaging in letter-writing campaigns. Some pursued legal avenues against human rights violations, while others sought to spark public discourse.
Over time, the initial enthusiasm waned, leaving the democratic movement divided. Frontline activists faced targeted attacks, forcing many into exile. As the government returned to business as usual, the necessity for global support became increasingly evident.
Author Saneliswa Magagula attending the Forge conference in the USA
EFC stands firm in acknowledging the sacrifices of our martyrs, exiled or imprisoned activists, seeing global solidarity as a renewal of hope and resilience. The knowledge that numerous individuals and groups worldwide stand in unity fortifies our determination to press on despite adversities.
In our recent participation at the #FORGE2023 conference, we thought critically about the time horizons within which we plan and execute tasks. Reflecting on historical precedents, the Swazi struggle has witnessed various waves, notably 2021, which emerged as a pivotal period.
Perhaps a significant setback though, was the assertion that the events of 2021 overshadow decades-long activism. Amongst other factors, this was a polarizing issue, highlighting a critical need for proactive political education, transcending biased narratives and providing a comprehensive understanding of the Swazi struggle.
Despite progress and setbacks in our lengthy struggle, the regime's tactics remain alarmingly constant, mirroring those used by authoritarian regimes worldwide. Our proactive stance in staying informed is pivotal, shifting from reactionary responses to strategic activism.
Leveraging the collective historical insights of our network of democracy and human rights defenders, EmaSwati For Change commits to preserving our ongoing narrative. Documenting our unfolding history lays the groundwork for informed activism and shapes present and future strategies.
Swazis in the USA carrying placards after picketing in the USA following the massacre in 2021
The significance of documenting our journey and projecting it onto global platforms cannot be overstated. We are duty bound to ensure Swaziland's prominence and contribution to global frameworks against injustices. Unified global support amplifies our advocacy.
When we lobby democratic nations to exert pressure on the Eswatini government to engage in a mediated national dialogue, our voices must be heard because we are part of the conversation and contributing to global justice solutions.
The diaspora's unique position allows us to forge collaborative alliances, ensuring representation in the international community that unites in condemnation of injustices. This collective pressure fosters accountability, demanding respect for democratic principles and human rights standards.
It also strengthens the case for targeted sanctions against perpetrators of human rights violations. The #FORGE2023 experience affirmed in EmaSwati For Change a commitment to a solutions-focused approach to activism.
Recognizing the tendency to dwell on issues without actively engaging in ideas and actions, FORGE is a call for a paradigm shift. Urgency is identified as a crucial element, framing activism in a way that propels the movement forward on a day-to-day basis.