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

UN orders Malawi to release Trapence, Sembereka


The United Nations (UN) has ordered the Government of Malawi to immediately release activists Gift Trapence and MacDonald Sembereka.Trapence – Vice Chairman of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRD) – and Sembereka who is a coalition member were arrested on Tuesday for fraud and operating an unregistered organisation called MANGO.In a statement dated July 10, The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said the organisation has reached a resolution with the activists.A letter from UN resident Coordinator in Malawi to the Malawi Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday said MANGO had agreed to repay funds which the organisation received from UNAIDS but did not use for intended purpose.The UN statement confirmed that UNAIDS reported MANGO to police but the case did not represent legal action against the organisation.“UNAIDS respectfully requests the immediate release of the two members of the Mango Network, Mr Gift Trapence and Mr Macdonald Sembereka, from police custody.“UNAIDS is strongly supportive of the full empowerment and engagement of civil society organizations in the AIDS response. It looks forward to continuing its partnership with community and civil society organizations in ensuring that all people affected by HIV have access to HIV prevention, treatment and social support services and that their human rights are protected,” says the statement.Sembereka and Trapence were arrested days after they led post-election demonstrations to demand the resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Jane Ansah.SOURCE: MALAWI24.COMLEAGUE OF JUSTICE ONLINE

July 12, 2019, 3:06 am
africa

The brave women fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria


More than 100 women are working with security agents in Borno state to thwart Boko Haram attacks.Maiduguri, Nigeria - Boko Haram killed the two most important people in Komi Kaje's life within two days.In November 2015, Komi Akaji, her 46-year-old brother, was shot dead by Boko Haram fighters. "There were seven students killed. When I got there, I saw he was shot twice in the head," Kaje said.The days of mourning followed according to tradition. Kaje was broken but Peter Adam, her 35-year-old boyfriend, provided some relief. On a Saturday afternoon, Adam observed mourning rites with Kaje's family and shared lunch with her.But Boko Haram attacked again, turning a visit of solace into sorrow."They shot him in his chest and head and he fell inside a ditch. The bullet touched his brain," said Kaje, her eyes in tears.Kaje has tried hard to forget the killings but military sirens, the sound of gunfire, and constant exposure to the areas where her loved ones were shot dead were enough to provoke new trauma.If she moved to a new city, her parents thought, it might help her heal. Kaje relocated to Abuja, Nigeria's capital, to spend some recovery time.But Kaje realised the solution wasn't to run, "because Boko Haram was everywhere". Maybe, Kaje thought, if she could play a role in defeating the fighters some healing would come. At the time, the armed group held many towns and villages captive as part of a so-called "Islamic caliphate".Boko Haram since 2009 has killed more than 27,000 people and forced another two million out of their homes.Fighting Boko HaramWhen Kaje introduced the idea of joining the fight against the rebellion to her friends and family, it was received with mockery and indifference. "How can a woman fight Boko Haram?" she was told.However, other women aside from Kaje, such as 45-year-old Idris Fati, shared her ambition to flush the fighters out of Maiduguri.Kaje and Fati joined the Civilian Joint Taskforce (C-JTF) - a civilian militia drawn from communities affected by Boko Haram - that partners with and supports the military in its operations.C-JTF had been an all-male force but there were tasks best-suited for women.For one, Boko Haram favoured using girls and women in the group's operations, especially as suicide bombers attacking markets, hospitals, mosques, churches and other public places."Boko Haram were using many women and girls to fight the war. Women were needed to counter that strategy," Kaje told Al Jazeera.Between 2011-17, Boko Haram used female suicide bombers in at least 244 of its 338 attacks, according to the United States-based Combating Terrorism Center. In 2018, 38 out of 48 children used by Boko Haram as suicide assailants were girls.Nigerian soldiers, for religious and cultural reasons, are restricted from searching women and girls in most cases - an opening exploited by Boko Haram to blow up its targets.Since then the women, from dawn to twilight, search other females at security checkpoints leading to Maiduguri's markets, hospitals, schools, and other public sites vulnerable to attacks.Many suicide bombers have been exposed and arrested and their murderous assaults foiled.In some cases, the military involves the women in intelligence-gathering on the armed group's activities. This has helped reveal operations by the armed group, earning them the nickname "Gossipers of Boko Haram". When the military receives intelligence that Boko Haram will target a particular location, it deploys the women to detect and expose female suicide bombers who might mingle in the crowd.In rare, but far more dangerous cases, the Gossipers are involved in military operations targeting notorious female Boko Haram members. Death threatsBut not everyone is happy with what the Nigerian women are doing."My neighbours are always insulting me. They say that one day Boko Haram will kill me. But whenever I am involved in saving people's lives, the joy of it is above all insults," said Fati.Boko Haram sends warning messages through emissaries, threatening to kill those working security."Boko Haram has threatened me so many times," Fati said. "They warn me to quit the job or risk being killed. They say our work hurts and exposes their operations. But I won't stop because I am fighting not just for my life, but for the future of my children." During the peak of Boko Haram's violence, the military was accused of arresting, jailing, and killing innocent citizens on suspicion of being collaborators.Discerning who was involved with Boko Haram was difficult for the military because of a lack of information about the communities.About 20,000 people, including boys as young as nine, were detained without due process, according to rights group Amnesty International. About 1,200 men were reportedly killed.'Many have died'Some locals knew those linked to Boko Haram, but to speak out was to risk death as the fighters retaliated against the families of those who exposed them to the military.Women helped break the barrier by taking vital information to the military about members of Boko Haram living in their communities."Many women have died doing this job," said Umar Habiba, 38, who coordinates the gatekeepers in Monday Market in Maiduguri.She said there are more than 100 women currently working in Nigeria's northeastern Borno state - the hotbed of the rebellion. Others have resigned as a result of threats, marriage and pressure from society.Danger is always present in their work as suicide bombers detonate explosives and kill themselves, along with those attempting to search them."If I die doing this work, I know my parents would be proud of me because I died for my state," said Kaje, who earns $60 a month from the state government - a huge sum for a job she previously did voluntarily. "Many women, unable to cope with the pressure, have resigned."SOURCE: ALJAZEERALEAGUE OF JUSTICE ONLINE

July 12, 2019, 2:57 am

today in history

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