Friday, March 11, 2011

soul food extraordinary woman

When you come face to face with magnificence and extraordinariness (I don't care if that's not a word, I like it!) you realise, with stark reality and a great big 'coming back down to earth' jolt, how very insignificant you the big scheme of things that is. I don't say that with any sense of regret or yearning. I say it with a sense of awe for those who are indeed extraordinarily special.
Last Friday I attended the International Women's Day lunch put on by the Canberra chapter of UN Women (previously UNIFEM). The key speaker was this woman...
Princess Kasune Zulu. Very beautiful and amazingly articulate. From Zambia, she lost both her parents and a sister and brother to AIDS. She is HIV positive herself, and she's a fighter. Her book Warrior Princess (co-written by Melbourne woman Belinda Collins) is the account of her life so far. I will be honest...I've only just begun to read it, but I'm going to try very hard to finish this weekend before I hop on a plane on Monday...given that long distance travelling is now to be an ibook only experience :)
image from here...and yes, thanks to my very kind colleague Tania who stayed and waited in line when I had to race off to a meeting...I have a signed copy :)
Listening to Princess Zulu speak I was inspired, amazed, saddened by the horrendous statistics and moved by the heartbreaking stories. I wanted to leap up and say 'what can I do to help?' But of course I didn't. In a room of just over 1000 women, you tend not to do stuff like that :) Not unless you're very brave. And I can't say that I am.
But it made me wonder...what do you have to go through to become someone who is truly capable of changing the world? Changing it in a good way that is. Becoming, as one book testimonial says "a voice for the voiceless". What characteristics do these amazing people possess? After all, sadly, lots of people have lost parents, siblings, children, husbands, wives to this most indiscriminate of diseases. What makes one person take on the fight (not just for themselves but for a generation), persevere, triumph, and another succumb? 
I have lived a pretty fortunate life. I've not been touched by tragedy and I've never had to fight like Princess, and to be honest I hope I never do. But it makes me wonder, if placed in her position, would I be a person who could be a champion for others, a justice fighter, a spiritual example. I suspect not. And that's ok, but gee...the world needs more women like this don't you think? And importantly, it's made me think about what small contribution I might be able to make. I'm investigating some options here and here.
Something to think about in this privileged world of ours.


  1. Very thought provoking Kerry. I don't think I'm much of a warrior either, maybe more of a quiet soldier, doing my little bit here and there for things that are important to me.
    I think that's why I support people who are wariors for animals, as creatures have no real voice of their own, they rely on people to fight the fight for them.
    I bet it was a wonderful function, hearing this inspirational woman speak. The strength of some people totally amaze and inspire me.
    Have a great weekend Kerry :)

  2. Hi Kerry long time reader of your blog and shamefully rare commentator or any blogs. But what you wrote is something I too believe in very much. In fact my lastest post very much is along similar lines about voices uniting about what matters. Please read and follow

  3. I think you would be a different person if your circumstances were different. You would probably surprise your 'First World' self if you lived in Africa and saw your family suffer what we can only imagine in Australia.

    I hope Princess is an inspiration to her people. Women have a much longer journey on the whole.

  4. Yes the world needs more people like her. Look forward to your review of the book too.

  5. Wow, what an inspiring woman. Thanks for the tip - I'm off to find her book!

  6. What an inspiring message....what a great post!!

  7. Wow - this post just crept under my skin - well done Ms warrior princess, and you for posting about her and the horrifying statistics. Look forward to your book-review!
    A xx

  8. Such a great post. I aspire to be like Princess, but I also wonder if I was in extraordinary circumstances if I would do anything extraordinary and I rather think I wouldn't. It's good to raise the bar high though.

    Have a great time in the big apple. I'll be thinking of you.

  9. A wonderful woman Kerry, and so inspiring. It really does put one's life into perspective when you hear what she has been through and what she is doing. Makes me feel very small and inadequate. It is wonderful to know that there are women like Princess Zulu in this world.
    Sorry that I haven't been around lately......I'm having terrible trouble with my computer AND Blogger. Hope that I will be back on track soon. Lots of love. XXXX


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