Born in Kaduni, Nigeria in 1958 Professor Mama co-founded the African Gender Institute which ran one of South Africa’s foremost gender studies academic programs. At AGI she oversaw the establishment of the journal Feminist Africa. You can access, read and download ALL this insightful content here> http://agi.ac.za/journals Topics from e-politics, peace-building, livelihoods as well as sexual and reproductive rights are covered by authors who span the continent and Diaspora.
What can we learn from Prof. Mama?
1. Feminism is the politics of love
My early life, like most peoples’, was not consciously political and I did not grow up identifying as either ‘African’ or as ‘feminist’. However, I was made aware that I did not behave the way I was expected to as a young girl growing up in one of Nigeria’s northern states. I studied too much, played too hard, and was much more assertive and confident than most of my peers. I also had different ambitions, nurtured by the kind of family I grew up in.
A sense of justice cannot be taught or forced onto people, it is innate but it can either be destroyed or nurtured depending on the room we give our children to BE. Imagine how many Aminas are born daily but their ambitions are not validated?
2. Women and men need to fight militarism TOGETHER
War and the male domination of political and economic arenas are inseparable. The kidnapping of 234 school girls by Boko Haram is but one of the many instances that remind us how women and girls serve as collateral in these senseless wars and how violence is used to uphold systems that despise the diversity that makes our world so beautiful.
Open conflict is only the surface eruption of much deeper-seated contradictions, vivid ulcers on the skin of an unhealthy body politic governed by a militarist mindset. The roots of these eruptions include complicated webs of economic, cultural and political malaise. Militarism is not just about men with guns, or wars, or the blistering legacies of the past. It lays out a future ordained by economic decisions that neglect social development and justice, and perpetuate the stark stratifications and gendered inequalities that militarism at once relies on and perpetuates..
African women and men need to stand side by side if we are to seen an end to the injustices we live with daily. This means acknowledging how militarism harms and imagining more constructive means of putting forward our ideas.
3. Own your femininity
Women are weavers, we are very good and building links and making connections.
Women are socialized to be home-makers and social beings. This has often been used as a justification to exclude women from leadership positions as well as from the arenas of politics and the economy. However, the traits that are often laughed off as effeminate; being emotional, expressive etc contribute to the problem solving capabilities women have and our reserve of skills.
4. The persecution of women didn’t stop with the Crusades
Myths are often used to justify the subjugation of women, especially the opinionated and talented ones. The witch is an archetype that is often used to marginalize women who don’t conform to social expectations. Professor Mama has co-produced The Witches of Gambaga which looks into the lives of women marginalized by myth. Please see the trailer here: http://www.witchesofgambaga.com/trailer/