today in history

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

international news


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

‘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


AU envoy mediates Sudan crisis as protesters slam military

KHARTOUM, Sudan — An African Union envoy said Thursday that mediation efforts to ease Sudan’s crisis are making “significant progress,” while leaders of the protest movement accused the ruling military of pursuing a crackdown on protesters.Ethiopia and the U.S. have recently stepped up diplomatic efforts to ease Sudan’s growing tensions, following the deadly dispersal last week by security forces of pro-democracy demonstrators’ main protest sit-in in Khartoum. Over 100 people were killed in the capital and across Sudan in a sweeping crackdown, according to protest organizers.The dispersal was an alarming turn in the standoff between the protesters and the military, which removed President Omar al-Bashir from power in April after a months-long popular uprising against his 30-year rule.In response to the sit-in dispersal, the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, a coalition of political groups representing the protesters, staged a three-day general strike and a campaign of civil disobedience earlier this week.The AU envoy to Sudan, Mohamed El Hacen Lebatt, declined to elaborate on where the mediation talks were headed, saying during a news conference in Khartoum that it was up to the two sides to disclose the outcome of the talks.He also said that the AU is demanding “an accurate, transparent and credible” investigation into last week’s violent sit-in dispersal.Following the military crackdown on protesters, the AU’s Peace and Security Council suspended Sudan’s participation in all AU activities until a civilian-led transitional authority is formed. Lebatt reiterated that other punitive measures could be taken if the situation deteriorates further in Sudan, but the suspension could be lifted if the situation improves.Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday the military council and leaders of the protest movement had agreed to resume their talks soon, “in good-faith to iron-out the remaining outstanding points.” Those points include setting up a government council to run Sudan during a transition period. The ministry said both sides also agreed to refrain from inflammatory rhetoric and de-escalate tensions, and that the military council would undertake confidence-building measures including the release of political prisoners.However, Tarek Abdel Meguid, an FDFC leader, said the direct talks with the military had yet to resume. He said the AU mediators hadn’t delivered any guarantees that the generals had accepted protesters’ preconditions for talks.Earlier, the FDFC said it would not resume direct negotiations with the ruling military council until it acknowledges last week’s “massacre,” allows the formation of an international commission to investigate the killings of protesters, restores internet services, adheres to previous deals struck before the breakdown in talks and sends paramilitary troops back to their barracks.“Nothing changed so far and hence there will be no direct talks,” Abdel Meguid told The Associated Press.The Sudanese Professionals Association, which led the protests that drove al-Bashir from power, issued a strongly worded statement Thursday accusing the security forces of arresting, intimidating and getting workers laid off from their jobs after participating in this week’s general strike.The association claimed the military had threatened to evacuate government-owned residential apartment buildings to force strikers to go to work. Owners of private businesses faced similar threats, it added.“We will work with our people on exposing the perpetrators of these crimes, which are no less serious than crimes of dispersing sit-ins and confronting rallies with bullets and tear gas,” the SPA said.Amid international diplomatic efforts to contain the situation, the FDCF halted the general strike on Wednesday. However, Abdel Meguid denied any link between the decision to call off the strike and the mediation talks.“You can never have an open-ended strike,” said Abdel Meguid. “We suspended the strike but we will resume it and resume our rallies.”Source: The Washington PostLEAGUE OF JUSTICE ONLINE

June 13, 2019, 6:41 pm

Dozens killed in major Boko Haram attack on Cameroon island

A weekend assault by suspected Boko Haram fighters in northern Cameroon killed dozens of people, including soldiers and civilians, officials have said, in one of the deadliest attacks by the group in the country.Cameroon's defence ministry said that "more than 300 heavily armed Boko Haram" fighters attacked military positions on Darak, an island near Lake Chad in Cameroon's Far North region some 1,000km from the capital, Yaounde.The toll, which has been revised several times since the attack, was put at 24 dead, of which 16 were soldiers and eight civilians. The ministry said 84 fighters were killed and eight taken into custody.Separately, a military source told the AFP news agency that the fighters had killed at least 37 people."As of today, we have 21 military and 16 civilian fatalities," the source said. Another security source told AFP that about 40 attackers had been captured.Boko Haram has led a decade-long armed campaign to establish an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria's northeast.The violence, which has cost the lives of some 30,000 people and displaced millions, has frequently spilled over into neighbouring Cameroon, Niger and Chad.  A multinational task force, headquartered in the Chadian capital Ndjamena, had been formed to fight the group, pulling troops from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.Cameroon's armed forces are also grappling with an armed revolt by separatists in two English-speaking regions in the west of the country.  According to the International Crisis Group think-tank, 1,850 people have been killed in the domestic fighting, while more than 530,000 people have been forced from their homes, according to UN figures.SOURCE: ALJAZEERALEAGUE OF JUSTICE ONLINE

June 13, 2019, 6:10 pm