WHO AM I? CHAPTER ONE.

CHAPTER ONE.

“ACHAZVICHINJA.”

“She’s going to change things”

FOREWORD: Achazvichinja, shortened to Acha, is the name of the main character in this narrative. “Acha zvichinja” is shona (one of the main languages spoken in Zimbabwe) for “he/she is going to change things.” In other words “she is going to revolutionise.” Acha is a determined woman, a woman with a lot of profound things to say. A woman who is very critical of not only the world that she lives in, but herself, she wants the best for both. Acha is also a woman who has struggled with an identity crisis as a result of a lack of representation growing up. This scene addresses some of the internal conflicts that someone in the fight for diversity and equality may have.

Diversity and Equality are topics that Shades of Noir will be addressing as part of our event titled ‘Who Am I? An Exploration of The Arts Community’ on the 28th of September. I wrote this play script as a response to the topic, it is very much open to interpretation.

SCENE ONE.

Steve: Good afternoon, ma’am. I’m sure you know why you’re here today! We are the men responsible for selecting who will be the Influential Voices of the Nation, in the year of 2017. My name is Steve and this here, is my co-partner Barry. So erm…ach…acha…

Achazvichinja: It’s pronounced achazvichinja, but most call me acha anyway. My parents are strong believers in the power of prophecy!

Steve: “Ah! Right, yes. Apologies. I’m absolutely terrible with names! Right, where were we… ah yes Acha, you have been shortlisted for the Influential Voices of the Nation 2017. As our co-ordinator, Sally, will have explained to you, the purpose of this meeting is to allow us to get to know you a bit better and see if you are the right person for the job! Barry here, has some questions prepared for you, are you ready to get started?

Acha: Yes, of course!

Barry: Right erm, ach-ar. Nice name, Nigerian is it?

Acha: Er no, I’m Zimbabwean actually.

Barry: Ah great, so let’s get this show on the road! You strike me as an intelligent young lady, so I will start off with two questions! Who are you and why do you think your voice is important?

In this moment, Achazvichinja has an outer-body experience. She steps into a parallel universe, and from here she is no longer the girl sat in the boardroom, she is now watching the girl sat in the boardroom like she would a character in a sitcom. Real time freezes, and her sub-conscious has a moment to speak.

Acha’s sub-conscious: Shit. Well, what do they want to hear? No, what do they need to hear? Who am I? Achazvichinja. Well, that’s my name anyway. I thought we’d covered this already? “Who are you” that’s not exactly a question with a straightforward answer, I am a lot of things all at once. Every woman, like my name’s Chaka Khan. Yeah sorry, that was a very dead bar. Anyway! I am also a black woman, that is part of why me being here today is so significant. But do they even recognise that?

Maybe I’m just a percentage for their diversity quota. A feminist is also who I am, if I address that mightn’t that scare them away? Ha, probably! Would it even make a difference either way? I could write a 2,500 word essay supported by evidence and statistics that show how black women are very much underrepresented. I could explain how that affects many young girls like me, girls who don’t see themselves as having the power to be influential. How it affects the women who don’t see themselves stepping into positions like this. I could talk about how I’m here today, not for myself alone, not only to be a motivation speaker for “the youth”, but for my little sister. For my younger self, the little girl who lacked self-esteem. For all that are like me really, ‘cos boy, I’m looking around and there aren’t really many of us around here still. What does any of this even mean to a Steve? Anyway, it’s not about what it means to him, it’s about what it means to me.

Maybe I should talk about everything that I’ve achieved? The certificates and awards attached to my name, are they what make my voice qualify? Are they the things that I need to be validated? My voice is important because I’m human, first of all! Human rights and all that. There is nobody on this earth who is exactly like me, both spiritually and genetically.

(She laughs) bloody hell, why can’t I just answer the question?. Why does everything have to be so damn deep? Who the f**k are Barry and Steve anyway, and what am I trying to prove here? Wait, so they’re picking three of us today and we’re supposed to represent the entire nation?

Okay, well that’s it then. I’m here for diversity. I’m here for representation. I’m here for myself. I’m here because I have ideas and I need an influential platform to host them. I’m here to revive the vibrancy and cultural variety that may die out in London in, let’s throw a random figure out there, 20 years? Maybe less, 10? These are the men who have the power to “undo” cultural gentrification, aren’t they? Alright. Let me tell them what they need to hear, and then proceed to do what I need to do. What’s my name again?

Acha chuckles, just as she finds herself repositioned as the girl in the boardroom once again.

Barry: It’s not a trick question, don’t worry!

Acha: Yes. My name is Acha and I applied for the Influential Voices of 2017 because…

Written by Charisse Chikwiri. Twitter @CharisseeC