Hope and Hopelessness: The Paradox of Inspiration


The paradox of “the struggle” – the phrase that some of my senior comrades use in reference to organizing – is that it is inspired by both hope and hopelessness. Often, people invest in the struggle through action with the hope that matters will change one day. What of those whose hopes have been dashed and still forge on? This brings to mind Wangari Maathai’s allegory of a hummingbird. The hummingbird sought to extinguish a forest fire with drops of water, drawn from a nearby stream with its beak. This took place as other animals looked on impotently and questioned the futility of the hummingbird’s efforts. In response, the hummingbird said “I’m doing the best I can.” Wangari Maathai explained the allegory further:
“..and that to us is we should always feel like a hummingbird. I may feel insignificant but I certainly do not want to be like the animals watching as the planet goes down the drain. I will be a hummingbird; I will do the best I can.”
What happens to those who face struggles within other struggles? Women who struggle against the oppression they face from their male comrades within the movements they are part of, movements that pride themselves as progressive. Or residents of informal settlements who struggle to get basic social services and then the next thing you know, their houses have been demolished and they then have to struggle for shelter. Or expelled University Students who were struggling for equity inside and outside their universities but now have another struggle to contend with – the struggle to get an education for survival, now a taller order in our neoliberal times.
These stories have to be told. Ukombozi Review remains a platform for these and more. The candlelight may flicker but it continues to illuminate our dark times. May the eighth edition give you the light you need.

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