Monthly Archives: February 2012

Afrowoman: History, Roles and Responsibilities

Mama Africa! I used to wonder where and how this name was derived and remember vividly asking my mum about the origin as a kid. I remember her saying “This coined name signifies Africa`s personification in terms of its ability to breastfeed her own children”.

History shows the significance of the African Woman over thousands of years making reference to her strength, passion, compassion, resilience, long suffering and so many other qualities that makes her idolized and revered by friends,families and the society in general.

Every African culture has a significant story or history portraying the role of the woman in her society. Ancient records show her as queen, goddess, scholar, diplomat, scientist, icon, prophet and freedom fighting warrior exalted with and sometimes above her father, husband and brothers. She is the epitome of multitasking balancing the needs of the husband with that of the children as well as other extended family members not to mention the society.

We have Historical African Women like Queen Nefertiti, Makeda the Queen of Sheba, Queen Ahmose-Nefertari, Queen Tiye, and Queen Nzingha, and the women warriors of Dahomey kingdom and even in recent times, Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti(the mother of Fela Kuti the original pioneer of afrobeats, activist and human right activist) who championed the course on recognition of African Women in Nigeria in 1953 and founded the Federation of Nigerian Women Societies . According to Dr. John Henrik Clarke, “The first accomplishment of the African woman, in partnership with the man, was the creation of a functioning family unit. This major step in human development laid the foundations of the organization of all subsequent societies and institutions. In Africa the “woman’s place” was not only with her family. She often ruled nations with unquestioned authority.

Many African Societies still need to understand that the African Woman is not a figure head but an essential member of the family unit who creates equilibrium across it. A father earns his respect and honour among his children by treating their mother with respect and dignity. She in turn sings his praise to the children and he is revered and respected.

So how is the modern day “African Woman” stepping into the shoes of her ancestors? For one, the western influence and education have had positive and negative influences on the African Woman`s role (and I am not saying this as a male chauvinist pig but as a realist). The role of the African woman has evolved over the years due to (but not limited to)these factors which brings me to these points:

Should these apparent stimuli push the African Woman out of her lifelong role?
What happened to her duties inside the home which is very significant in the bigger society?

Do not get me wrong, we have a lot of African Women who are still aware of their roles and playing it to a T, but the question remains – what is going on with the ones that have lost the cause? Where did it all go wrong?

The African Woman needs to realize that she belongs to a lineage of Warriors, Leaders, Inspirers, Home makers and so on. She is the epitome of multitasking, a goddess who is respected at home and the world in general, a ruler and warrior. Her role with regards to the man is not a competitive one in which the man is the adversary, but rather an important partner (and vice versa) without whom her role cannot be complete.

African woman, take your rightful position of respect because you have earned it over time.

Please find some relevant read links below which you can also peruse. I would like some comments and other viewpoints regarding this issue.

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True Diversity

This weekend gone,my girlfriend who is 1st generation British of Afro-Caribbean heritage, her best mate who is White British and her best mate`s fiancé who is 1st generation British of Asian heritage were out and about in London having a swell time doing everything from bowling to dining and got the best smiles from people we did not even know. It later struck me that we represented the real 21st century Britannia irrespective of colour, family history or background. We represented the minoroty to the majority, and showed(unconsciously) how easy it was to relate with each other irrespective of our different backgrounds or heritage.

We all grew up in almost similar types of environment, watched the same children programmes as kids, have similar(or almost similar) interests, discussed familiar topics ranging from politics to fashion and entertainment with each person having their own opinion.

If the society at large can live in harmony, with everyone understanding the fact that diversity does have its pros in terms of education about other cultures, similarities with other cultures, differences and cohesiveness, then the society at large will be more peaceful and dispute-free!

Just a thought 🙂

Attached Image courtesy of Southern Nevada Diversity Roundtable