Tuesday, October 18, 2011

African Women throughout the World and Their Contributions to Our Struggle – Those Known and Not So Commonly Known Pt. 1

The struggle for African Liberation has never been an easy one throughout the course of our history this is evident.  However it is a struggle that we cannot ignore.  This is the same for men as well as women.  You do not so often here about the contributions of women in revolutionary work as much as you do men, but it does exist.  There, as a matter of fact, cannot be any type of revolution unless the woman has been involved.  Again, I say, examine our history. This is not a message of egotism, or to be boastful of African women pride or feminism.  This is a mere message to our people as a testament to never forget who we are.  We must look at these women’s’ lives and use it as an example to shape our own.  Just as them we must be brave, smarty, courageous and have no fear when working towards our peoples’ liberation.  Again these are only a few of the many of us. Hopefully this contribution will be a resource to invent more.  UHURU SASA!

Al-Kahina, Dahia of Mauretania, North Africa.  Dahia was described as possessing "dark skin and a large mass of hair.  She was a Moorish freedom fighter, resistance leader, and African patriot. Dahia al-Kahina directed the most determined resistance to the seventh century Arab invasions of North Africa.  About 690, Al-Kahina, whose name means the 'priestess' or the 'prophetess,' assumed personal command of the African forces, and under her aggressive leadership, the Arabs were briefly forced to retreat.  The Arabs were relentless, however, and as the African plight deteriorated, our brave and audacious sister ordered a scorched earth policy.  It is said that the effects of this devastation can still be seen in the North African countryside.  In 701, however, after fierce resistance, the Africans were defeated.  Dahia al-Kahina took her own life, and sent her sons to the Arab camp with instructions that they adopt Islam and make common cause with the Arabs.  Ultimately, these men participated in invading Europe and the subjugation of Spain and Portugal.  With the death of Dahia al-Kahina, however, ended a magnificent and heroic endeavor to preserve Africa for the Africans. –excerpt from Runoko Rashidi’s DAHIA AL-KAHINA: VALIANT NORTH AFRICAN FREEDOM FIGHTER

Baker, Ella Joe, never allowing her marriage to interfere with political work, said, “Strong people don’t need strong leaders.”  This was her motto when organizing.  She understood that the people had to lead themselves.  Ella has a long history of organizing.  She was known for speaking out against anti-communist.  She also worked with the Organization Workers Education Project of the Workers Progress Administration, educating workers’ militant Trade union in politics.  Although she graduated valedictorian of her class at Shaw University of 1927, she never really accepted the conservative philosophy.  She joined ranks with classmates on social issues that were deep rooted in resistance.  Born 1903 in Norfolk, Virginia and growing up in Littleton,NC, her upbringing was also rooted in resistance to oppression through her folks.  She felt necessary to organize Harlem during the Great Depression. Mrs. Baker was a leader of the NAACP in the forties.  Ella Joe Baker is more commonly known as being the Executive Secretary of SCLC, Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the fifties.  Also commonly known as one of the founders of SNCC, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in the sixties.  She was a staunch believer that the people could become a powerful people through organized unity.  Ella always said during the fight against segregation, “Even if segregation is gone, we still need to be free.  We will still need jobs. Singing alone is not enough.  We simply need more.”  Our great ancestor left this earth in 1986.

Kathleen Cleaver was born in Dallas, Texas on May 13th 1945. Growing up her family lived in India, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Philippines.  Kathleen returned to the United States to finish her education. While studying at Barnard College she became involved in the civil rights movement. In 1967 she left college to work full-time for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The following year she met Eldridge Cleaver and moved from New York to San Francisco to join the Black Panther Party (BPP). The couple married on 27th December, 1967.   Kathleen Cleaver became the BPP's National Communications Secretary and helped to organize the campaign to get Huey Newton released from prison. She was also the first woman to be appointed to the Black Panthers Central Committee.

Mae Mallory when the police attacked this woman attacked back.  Mae Mallory was a leading figure in the movement for Black liberation in the 1960s, and of all her life’s battles, before her death in 2007, the hardest one established Mallory’s political role. It began with her support and fundraising for Rob Williams, a leading advocate of armed self-defense for Black people in the fight against violent racism.  From Monroe, N.C., in 1961, came Williams’ decisive call to Mallory in New York: “Mabel and I need you down here.”  Rob Williams had come home to Klan-infested Monroe from the U.S. Marines. He recruited Black WW II veterans into a working-class chapter of the NAACP. They fought to desegregate the local swimming pool.  Some in the civil rights movement at that time advocated nonviolent civil disobedience. Williams, however, organized armed pickets, who withdrew only when the city closed the pool. Faced with increasing threats and deadly violence, Williams and his self-defense guards protected the resisting Black community. In the newsletter named “The Crusader,” which Williams printed on a mimeograph machine, Williams called on all Black communities to do the same.  In one confrontation, racists forced Williams’ car off the road. One held a gun to his head. One of Williams’ young supporters jammed his gun against the skull of the would-be killer. His bold action saved William’s life.  When 17 Freedom Riders came to Monroe to support Williams, a dramatic debate developed between the ideologies of passive resistance—which the Freedom Riders supported—and Williams’ armed self-defense. Williams warned the brave young idealists that racists would confront passive resisters with violence.  This is who Mae Mallory was she was you she was resistance and she was brave.  Most importantly she was armed.  Her motto was self defense.  This was just a couple of instances, but her contributions to our people struggle made all the difference a difference that helped us to know and exercise our rights as African people to armed self-defense.—excerpts from the Workers World by Jeanette Merrill and Rosemary Neidenberg

Nzinga of Angola, Queen was determined never to accept the Portuguese conquest of her country. An exceptional stateswoman and military strategist, she harassed the Portuguese until her death, at age eighty. Her meeting with the Portuguese governor, recorded by a Dutch artist, is legendary in the history of Africa's confrontations with Europe: Representing her brother, the Ngola, Nzinga arrived at Luanda in royal splendor. Upon entering the room, Nzinga observed that the only seat in the room belonged to the governor. She promptly summoned one of her women, who fell on her hands and knees and became Nzinga's "seat". Outwitted from the start, the governor never gained the advantage at the meeting, which resulted in a treaty on equal terms, but of course, the governor could not honor the treaty as Portugal's rapacious appetite for black slaves had to be satisfied. She appealed to her brother to repel the Portuguese, but he proved to be a weakling and Nzinga decided to take matters into her own hands.
Subsequently, Nzinga formed an alliance with the Jaga. She fashioned an organized army out of disparate elements, strengthened the alliance by marrying the Jaga chief, and ultimately created a land for her people by conquering the kingdom of Matamba. The fragile alliance with the Jaga chief ended when he betrayed her and attacked Matamba. Fortunately, dissension among the Europeans—the Dutch were encroaching on Portugal's share of the slave trade—created an opportunity for Nzinga. She established a strategic alliance with the Dutch, pitting them against the Portugese. After the Portuguese routed the Dutch, Nzinga retreated to the hills of Matamba, where she established a formidable resistance movement against the Portuguese regime.   She became renowned for the guerilla tactics she employed for resisting the technologically superior Portuguese army. She was a brilliant strategist and, although past sixty, led her warriors herself.  Never surrendering, she died on December 17, 1663.

Organization of Angolan Women (OMA), created in 1962 as the women's wing of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) played a crucial role in supporting the guerrilla forces from both inside and outside Angola. Reports on OMA's activities show that its members contributed to food production for the guerrilla army, organized literacy campaigns and basic health care and carried arms and food over long distances. There are no figures on how many women participated in the MPLA guerrilla army but oral testimonies indicate a substantial number.  OMA saw women's involvement and participation in the independence struggle as being "a testing ground where all who took part were called upon to make their utmost effort and develop their talents and abilities". As in other women's organizations linked to liberation movements, the OMA leadership comprised mainly educated women with strong family or marital links to the political leadership of the party. Nevertheless OMA's main supporters were ordinary women from all social and ethnic backgrounds, who became involved in political activism and community work. Consequently, by independence, OMA had gained enough popular support to have delegates in every province and had an estimated 1.8 million registered members in 1983.—excerpts from Conciliation Resources

Pam Africa is a member of MOVE a revolutionary organization that was based in Philadelphia.  MOVE’s focus has always been Black Liberation.  It was founded by John Africa.  MOVE lived communally and was always involved in political work where needed such as public demonstrations related to African People.  Because they were considered radical their activities drew attention from the local Police department in Philadelphia.  In 1978 the police decided to raid their home or the MOVE headquarters and as a result of this raid a police officer died and nine MOVE members were hauled off and imprisoned for this murder.  Pam Africa is a revolutionary African woman whom till this day continues to battle against the injustice of that event.  Her mission is to rally our people to continue to struggle for the liberation of the MOVE 9 political prisoners and Mumia Abu-Jumal.

Scde. Kilaika Anayejali Baruti

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