Dear Daughters of Africa
For one day in March every year the universe conspires to pretend they care about women, while for the rest of the year it is murders, defilement, dying in childbirth. That’s the world we live in but allow me to celebrate you today and I care about you. On this same day last year (bc) before corona , the celebrations were held in Mbale, the highlight for me was the young girl from Kenya making everyone stand and pledging gender equality including Mr Tibuhaburwa. Well the Chinese flu had plans, I have been criticized for that word but didn’t the flu come from Wuhan? Well it has ravaged the world and we are now living with it. We couldn’t wait to get herd immunity rather we have developed vaccines meaning that we have accepted to live with the Chinese flu. It’s no wonder that the theme for this year’s event rotates around the Chinese flu and women leadership. What the Chinese flu has taught us this past period is the effect on the women and girl child, from domestic violence, teenage pregnancies and a plethora of issues like maternal and sexual reproductive health came under a spotlight. This has forced some of us to think about the way forward in light of the challenges.
“Human intelligence cant estimate what we owe to a woman. She sews our buttons, she mends our clothes, she confides in us, she gives us good advice, and plenty of it–she gives us a piece of her mind and sometimes all of it. She soothes our aching brows. Wheresoever you place a woman she is an ornament to that place she occupies and a treasure to this world. look at the noble names of history, Cleopatra, Desdemonia,Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale. But jesting aside, a woman is lovable, gracious, kind of heart, beautiful worthy of respect of all esteem of all deference. Not anyone will refuse to drink to her health right cordially”. -A Toast to a Woman 18th January 1868- Mark Twain
To the ornaments of the Africa, I celebrate you.
In Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe says, “The greatest name is Nneka meaning mother supreme. It is true that a child belongs to its father. But when a father beats his child, it seeks sympathy in its mothers hut. A man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland. Your mother is there to protect you.”
That’s why it is easier for fathers to run away from their children, while mothers would sadly do anything to raise their children. And this is what feminists ignore looking at the role of a woman in the African context. She was in charge of the granary ensuring food security, was key in give away of the daughter marriage. So the feminism ought to have understood from that point of view and try to model their solutions along that model. Contrary to popular belief, a woman was respected in African Tradition.
Now that may not go well with my friends the feminists. I don’t think writing the word, Womyn is activism. Rather we should accept that societal partriachy has affected the girl child and work towards the deconstruction of the mindset. If there’s anything that has derailed the struggle, it’s radicalization of feminism. The point is simple, when you want to uproot a system/mindset by being radical,it won’t work. I think Afrofeminism is the way to go. I’m one of the many who think that we must craft African solutions for Africa’s problem and this has to begin with the mindset change, demystification of traditional gender roles and so much more. Ofcourse one may argue that partriachy and colonialism is to blame for the inequality which is true which is why we must seek to dismantle the foundation without seeming radical.The beauty of this is that it is a collective struggle. About seven years ago I wrote to a dear friend who is a radical feminist in every sense.https://yongyera.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/dear-ladygodiva-redifining-feminism/ Ofcourse I know the dear reader might have different opinions which I will welcome in the comments section.Happy International Women’s day.