On Tuesday, Perry World House will host the next event of its The World Today series “Human Rights Advocacy and Social Media: Lessons from Zimbabwe,” featuring Zimbabwean clergyman and activist Evan Mawarire.
The conversation will be moderated by PWH Senior Executive Director LaShawn Jefferson. The event will be offered both in person at the World Forum and on Zoom on Tuesday, Dec. 6, from 4-5 p.m.
Mawarire — who is the director of education of the Renew Democracy Initiative and the founder of #ThisFlag citizen’s movement — will focus on how democracy and human rights advocates use social media in order to expose human rights violations, creating positive change by challenging government abuses.
Mawarire will also discuss the factors that made his movement successful in Zimbabwe and share his ideas for how future movements can deploy the same strategies and lessons.
Mawarire launched #ThisFlag via Facebook in April 2016 through a video, organizing and rallying Zimbabwean citizens. He aimed to stand up to the cycle of violence, disruption, and deprivation in Zimbabwe because he was personally touched by the devalued currency and family poverty under the ZANU-PF and the Mugabe regime.
“His eyes were opened to the level of systemic repression in Zimbabwe, and his role as a pastor made him turn to more decisive action to secure justice and contest the Mugabe regime,” Jefferson said.
The movement has received pushback from many government officials and parties in Zimbabwe.
Because of Mawarire’s involvement in challenging corruption, injustice, and poverty in Zimbabwe through the #ThisFlag movement, he was imprisoned, charged with treason, and faced 80 years in prison. He currently lives in exile in the United States.
Despite his distance, #ThisFlag still remains active. Beyond Mawarire, social media allowed many leaders to rise up in their communities, making it hard for the government to halt the movement.
“The true power of his story is how an ordinary regular man looked around and decided that he could no longer abide by the circumstances in his country … Everyone is capable of making a difference and transforming the world within which they live,” Jefferson said.
Transitioning to a new chapter in his activism, Mawarire is now the director of education at the Renew Democracy Initiative, an American nonprofit organization promoting and defending liberal democracy in the United States and abroad.