today in history

January 31, 1976. Ernesto Miranda, famous from the Supreme Court ruling on Miranda vs. Arizona is stabbed to death.

international news

international

Africa has forgotten the women leaders of its independence struggle


When the British colonial officers refused to give permits for demonstrations, activist Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti mobilized local market women for what she called “picnics” and festivals.One of few women in early 1920s Nigeria to receive post-primary education, Ransome-Kuti used her privilege to coordinate the resistance against colonialism in Nigeria that not only targeted the British but also the local traditional figureheads they used to enforce their rules.The Abeokuta Women’s Union, which she founded, protested unjust taxes, corruption and the lack of women’s representation in decision-making corridors. While she is probably better known now as the mother of the Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti (an activist in his own right), Ransome-Kuti’s role and years as the mother of anti-colonial activism in Nigeria are rarely celebrated outside of early primary school texts. Her son once sang: “She’s the only mother of Nigeria.”In many ways, the muted legacy of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti in Nigeria’s independence movement plays out across the continent.In the six decades since many African countries attained political independence, the stories of women in the liberation struggle is yet to be told and celebrated unlike their male counterparts who wasted no time in having universities, airports and major highways named for them and affixing their faces on national currencies.For those whose stories have been told, such as anti-apartheid activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, they are riddled with double standards and sexist tropes which often try to to position them as “helpers” to men and reduce them to wives.Women, both educated and uneducated, were pivotal to liberation parties, although they were often pigeonholed with the less powerful women’s wing of the party, if it had one. While they had little opportunity to be part of the broader organogram of these parties, leaders of the women’s wing were able to demonstrate enormous leadership potential.Within a year of being recruited, Bibi Titi Mohammed, as head of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) women’s wing, had attracted 5,000 women to join. Bibi Titi used women’s cultural and economic network to mobilize, exchange information, sell party membership cards, announce rallies, organize marches, and raise money for TANU, which would go on to become the freedom party of modern Tanzania.In Ghana, Mabel Dove-Danquah, described as a ‘trail-blazing feminist’ was well ahead of her time as an outspoken advocate for women’s equality. Dove-Danquah worked as a writer, journalist and editor for various liberation-minded newspapers including the Accra Evening News which was founded by Kwame Nkrumah. She was among a host of women Nkrumah and his Convention People’s Party used to advance the struggle for independence and would go on to become the first African woman to be elected by popular vote to parliament in 1954.The CPP’s women’s wing were made up largely of market women who, while crisscrossing the country to buy and sell, went along with the gospel of self-determination. Just like in other African struggles, market women were also the financial backbone of the party but as Ghana commemorated 62 years of independence this month, their names and contributions have effectively been written out of popular history.In contexts where the fight for independence took a particularly violent turn, women were also on the front lines. Young Muslim women were a central part of the FRELIMO resistance against Portuguese colonial rule in Mozambique. FRELIMO recruited teenage girls and young women as guerrilla fighters and crucially in intelligence gathering as they were seen by the Portuguese as non-threatening. They also performed domestic duties such as cooking and cleaning.Women were pivotal to liberation parties, but were often pigeonholed with the less powerful “women’s wing” of the movement.But the lack of recognition for the role of women in history telling, is not unique to Africa. Around, the world, there have been attempts to rewrite the past and make it fuller and nuanced, says professor Akosua Darkwah, head of the department of sociology at the University of Ghana. “Often because, these stories are being told by men so they tell it from their perspective,” she says, “but there has to be a constant reminder that it couldn’t have been that all the women were just sitting down watching.” In 2017, Darkwah co-authored a paperabout women and post-independence African politics.In struggle times, the leaders of African liberation spoke passionately about women’s equality and recognized their contributions. By Nkrumah’s own admission: “much of the success of the CPP has been due to efforts of women members. From the very beginning, women have been the chief field organizers. They have travelled through innumerable towns and villages in the role of propaganda secretaries and have been responsible for the most in bringing about the solidarity and cohesion of the party.”But that progressive rhetoric was at best a veneer as they did little post-independence to structurally include women in governance and remove sexist colonial-era laws. Although his government introduced a gender quota (9%) [pdf p.3] in the legislature in 1960, Kwame Nkrumah’s cabinet as head of government and president, for example, was exclusively male for 11 out of the 14 years he governed. As the economy of newly independent Ghana found itself in dire straits, due to decades of colonialism, the Cold War and his bankrolling of other liberation movements, Nkrumah, picked on market women as a cause of the economic challenges.Again, women were not spared the brutalities that accompanied criticism of the authoritarian governments that ruled in post-independence Africa. Shortly after independence, Bibi Titi was arrested by the government of her former ally, Julius Nyerere, on trumped-up treason charges. She was sentenced to life in prison but was released after two years on pardon and she spent the rest of her life out of public view.Similarly, Malawi’s first female lawyer Vera Chirwa endured exile and long years of imprisonment when she along with others, fell out with president Hastings Kamuzu Banda. Chirwa is a founding member of the Malawi Congress Party, which eventually led the country to won independence. She also founded the League of Malawian Women which did not only fight for the rights of women but was a leading supporter of the resistance against white domination in Malawi.Generations later, the power that women’s wings of political parties across the continent wielded have been decimated and usurped by first ladies. They have been depopulated of charismatic, educated, professional women to the extent that a coherent progressive feminist agenda can now be found with civil society. For example, the women’s league of the African National Congress (which has been described as “the gatekeepers of patriarchy”) until 2017 maintained South Africa was not ready for a woman president, despite the party possessing a cadre of accomplished women politicians. Tellingly, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf remains Africa’s only elected female president.There are many untold stories of women’s role in the resistance against European colonialism from the women at the frontlines in Algeria and Zimbabwe to the Somali women poets whose words captivated and inspired their freedom movement. However, a new generation of African feminists are determined to reclaim these narratives.In Lusaka, Zambia, the Museum of Women’s History has collected 5,000 pieces of audio records and other artifacts and is already changing the narrative about women and equality, which was nearly erased by colonialism. Similarly, tech savvy feminists are using the occasion of Ghana heritage month to reposition women’s role in the history.But professor Darkwah cautions: “That is not the job for only feminists…this is our history, this is a more complete rendering of our past, it shouldn’t be the responsibility of only young feminists to tell us that. It should be all of us.”Souurce: QZLEAGUE OF JUSTICE ONLINE

March 18, 2019, 1:48 pm
international

‘No country, no region’ can tackle global challenges alone says UN’s Mohammed


“In the regions today, no country is alone. Our borders don’t make any difference in the Sahel when we talk about issues of terrorism, migration, and climate change”, Ms. Mohammed said on Tuesday at the opening of the Kaduna State Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Acceleration Conference 2019.“No country, no region can tackle the global challenges of today”, she spelled out.Under the theme "Building effective partnership for accelerated progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals", the two-day conference aims to fortify partnerships to fast-track implementation of the global goals, which each country is adapting to reach ambitious targets on poverty and hunger eradication, among other challenges. Ms. Mohammed advocated strongly for gender parity saying that “part of our population, especially women and girls, has to be put at the centre of the results” and not only “at the centre of our policies”.Moreover, she continued, “we need to see young people at the centre of the impact that is made on everyone’s life. Because they are not the future tomorrow; they are the future today.”Calling the rise in global hunger over the past few years “a great concern”, Ms. Mohammed underscored that the world has enough to feed itself two to three times over, but inequalities mean that millions go to bed hungry and “short change us in the revenue [that] otherwise would have been put into governance.”Despite a global decline in the number of people living in poverty, the Deputy Secretary-General observed that there are many reasons why extreme poverty remains. She singled out the two explanations of “when there is no enabling environment and when there is no stability”.Ms. Mohammed stressed the importance of using a national outlook, within a regional context, to drive what are global goals.The Deputy Secretary-General also argued that effective partnerships are vital to achieving the SDGs.  As a case in point she focused on the room, where federal and state governments, members of the international community, civil society, and local and community authorities, were all participants.Also speaking at the conference, Governor Mallam Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai said that Kaduna state stood out as an SDG pacesetter. He noted that his administration has adopted the targets and indicators, and developed an integrated, sustainable infrastructure that would make Kaduna a leading investment destination in Nigeria and provide it with a “comparative advantage’’ to make it globally competitive.-UN News CentreLeague of Justice Online

January 25, 2019, 12:17 pm

african news

africa

Free press should be barred from 2020 poll: Burundi commissioner


A senior Burundi election official has called for independent media to be barred from covering the country's presidential polls in 2020, local press and witnesses reported Wednesday.Jean Anastase Hicuburund, from the National Independent Electoral Commission, urged that official steps be taken to "block the way for those media who do not want to follow the path taken by the government"."They have done everything to bring the country to its knees," he told an audience of journalists and civil society groups in Bujumbura.The comments were reported by SOS Media Burundi and confirmed to AFP by two sources present.SOS Media Burundi is one of the few independent outlets left in a country ranked one of the worst in the world for press freedom.Burundi has been in turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his candidacy for a third term in April 2015. He was re-elected in July of that year.Violence claimed at least 1,200 lives and displaced more than 400,000 between April 2015 and May 2017, according to estimates by the International Criminal Court which has opened an investigation.Hicuburund, the commissioner in charge of electoral operations and litigation, said independent media was to blame for the 2015 violence that "paralysed the country"."You witnessed the events of 2015. It was mainly the independent media that had received from abroad the mission to create chaos," he said."The Burundian people must disassociate themselves from the media that do not support government action."Burundi's independent media were among the most flourishing in the region until the 2015 crisis, when several radio and television stations were destroyed and about 100 journalists were forced into exile.In March, the BBC was banned from operating in Burundi. The country's media authority had already suspended FM radio broadcasts of the BBC and Voice of America the year before.Burundi ranks 159th out of 180 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.SOURCE: The East AfricanJEAGUE OF JUSTICE ONLINE

May 17, 2019, 9:17 pm
africa

UN Security Council to Discuss Cameroon's Escalating Crisis


YAOUNDE —The United Nations Security Council this Monday is set to informally discuss the separatist crisis in Cameroon for the first time. The discussion comes at a time when the conflict is escalating with many internally displaced persons from the English speaking regions escaping to the French speaking zones where some live in desperate conditions.This is Cameroon’s Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute, visiting the English-speaking town of Bamenda on Saturday, begging people to ask their relatives who have joined separatist fighters to come back home.Dion Ngute says President Paul Biya has sent him to say he is ready for an all-inclusive dialogue but will not discuss separating Cameroon.As the prime minister went begging for peace, the military announced that the war against the separatists had intensified with many of their camps destroyed and at least two dozen fighters killed.The baby of 38-year-old Flora Yenos cries at the Obili Catholic church in the French speaking capital Yaounde. She says she escaped fighting last week from her village Bafanji in the English speaking North West region. She says lost her husband in a battle with the military.She says when she arrived in Yaounde, she and her four kids did not have anything to eat and drink and lacked a place to sleep. She says the Catholic church allowed her to lodge in a classroom and asked Christians to contribute for their upkeep after all of her relatives had told her they could not assist because they were already hosting many IDPs. She says her children are very sick and lack food.Cameroon’s unrest began in 2016 when English-speaking teachers and lawyers demonstrated against the growing dominance of French in the officially bilingual country. The government responded with a crackdown and separatists launched an independence movement, saying they were defending their people.The United Nations says at least 500,000 people have been displaced by the fighting.Allegra Baiocchi, coordinator of the U.N. system in Cameroon, says their humanitarian needs are increasing by the day."We are fully aware of how many people are suffering on so many different needs where there is health, education, protection, violence and I think the commitment is there to try and reach as many people as possible," she said. "We have often said the primary responsibility for the protection of the people is with the government so our action has to come in complementarity."Last week, Human Rights Watch said 1,800 people have been killed in the war and said it had documented cases of the government detaining and torturing alleged separatists and holding some incommunicado detention.Iliaria Allegrozzi, senior reseach for Human Rights Watch in Central Africa, said, "We have compounded accounts from former detainees with information provided by former detainees families and lawyers as well as forensic experts who have reviewed and analyzed a number of photos and videos following torture or signs of torture on the bodies of the detainees."Human Rights Watch says it is calling on the U.N. Security Council to condemn torture and incommunicado detention, and call for the government to end these practices that have persisted since the crisis began.Cameroon territorial administration minister Paul Atanga Nji says separatists are responsible for the wave of abductions, killing and torching of public buildings including schools and hospitals. He says the government in its effort to bring peace will forgive fighters who lay down their weapons."We want to make it very clear. Those who voluntarily lay down their weapons will not go to jail. Those are instructions from the president of the Republic. They will be Cameroonians, I can call them born again," he said.Analysts say since discussions at the U.N. Security Council will be informal, they just expect Cameroon to be condemned for its poor handling of the crisis and asked to organize an all-inclusive dialogue.SOURCE: VOICE OF AMERICALEAGUE OF JUSTICE ONLINE

May 14, 2019, 1:32 pm

today in history

January 31, 1976. Ernesto Miranda, famous from the Supreme Court ruling on Miranda vs. Arizona is stabbed to death.