Barricading and opening doors with naked bodies

On Monday, Dr Stella Nyazi at Makerere University got the door to her office opened after she got naked. On Tuesday, a number of womyn at Rhodes University barricaded a road with their naked bodies.

These womyn were compelled by different reasons to undress; but that they did in their respective universities is rather interesting for me.

Their actions have, for better or worse, inscribed the naked body to the university discourse in a new yet old way. New in that the ‘man of reason’, it would seem, can only be reasoned with by staging (or perhaps erecting) naked protests. And old, in that, we remain, in a sense, and to borrow from Oyewumi, with the oppositional constructions of a ‘man of reason’ and a ‘woman of the body’.

At this stage, I am not sure how best to process all this. I am unsure how to express the pain and trauma of patriarchy. Still, I intend to hold on to the hope that all will work out.

Why? Because when Charles Taylor’s shit was no longer tolerable, the Liberian womyn undressed at one point, as part of their sustained prayer for the devil to go back to hell. For me, these womyn are a ‘historic’ reminder that naked bodies can, if needs be, open the doors of dialogue and act as barricades against brutality!

With this historic reminder—and as I take heart in the possibility of things changing a bit—I am beginning to slowly grasp why Basotho talk of “ntoa ea libono”, when fighting for that which matters! We are in this fight and overcome…we shall!

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