~~In all societies, there are vices and disparaging traditions for some and demeaning customs for others. From the white people who pay women less than men for the same work done, who rape thousands of women each year even at the UN mission, to the Arabs who behead women that were victims of rape; from the Africans who beat up their wives and kill poor old women accusing them of witchcraft, to the Pakistani who burn women with acid when they reject their courtship, women no matter the color of their skin and their place of residence have been abused for centuries. Some societies have changed a little in favor of women when others have deteriorated. We thus went from the 13th century’s France where husbands use to sell their wives at the market to that of the 21st century where women earn 30% less than men and are beaten by hundreds of thousands each year. We have moved from African queens like Asantewa, Amina, Nzinga, Candace, Makeda, Ranavalona and Nefertiti, to a contemporary Africa where the value of a woman depends on the success of her president, minister or soccer player husband.
The deterioration or the improvement of the status of women in any society requires first and foremost that they like all oppressed people break the chains of coercion by asserting and imposing their identity. I am pained when the salvation of the African woman is attached to her submission to a man, regardless of his color. I am even more saddened to hear people say that the African woman's salvation will come from those who have hurt us so bad in the past and continue to do so. Those who raped over 2 million African women in their "colonies", turned them to living incubators in the Americas, compared the African woman to a monkey and have extradited an African woman from South Africa to a zoo in Europe (Hottentot Venus). I am troubled, and my flesh aches when I read such provocations vis-à-vis my person, my history and my people.
I come from a lineage of warriors and hunters and as my grandfather once said, "we are the one make others flee; not the other way round." Therefore no one on this earth, regardless of the color of their skin will make me flee the battle to restore the integrity of my people. And my people are us: African women. We hunted slave traders and settlers trough Nzinga and Asantewa. We brought down Western dynasties trough Nefertiti and have ruled the world in the time of Cleopatra. We are lionesses and we defend our children, our communities and our people. Our only weakness was to have allowed men to make us believe that in the human species; only the male can guarantee our security.
African Women, you need not to pray to have a soccer player for a husband because today you lead FIFA.
African Women do not dream of becoming a mere first lady because you lead the African Union.
African Women, do not let anyone make you see happiness through a skin other than yours because you are the essence of every "race".
African Women, know that through thee who they call "Lucy," you are the beginning of mankind and it is only you that can define the end!
Being a woman and African on top of it is a privilege that we must be proud of. But that comes with the responsibilities we have to take or leave to the less fortunate. It is up to you African women to decide whether you wish to play the role of Patsey (the slave Lupita Nyong'o portrayed in "12 years a slave) or that of Queen Nzinga who was chased all slave traders out of her kingdom in present-day Angola. It is up to you to decide whether you want to be treated as an object by those who were built piece by piece inside your womb or not. Strong you are, brilliant you are, inescapable you are and indomitable you shall become if you refuse to be treated as a slave.
Farida Bemba Nabourema
Disabused Togolese Citizen