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

Three Burundi schoolgirls face jail for doodling on President's photo


Three schoolgirls in Burundi spent the weekend in jail and are facing five years in prison for drawing on the President's face in their school books, Human Rights Watch told CNN.The girls, who are all minors, were arrested last week and were on Monday charged with 'insulting the head of state,' according to the human rights group.They are on remand while they await trial for drawing on President Pierre Nkurunziza's face during one of their classes, Lewis Mudge, the Central Africa Director at Human Rights Watch told CNN.A 13-year-old girl was released for being below the age of criminal responsibility while four others arrested alongside the schoolgirls were released.Mudge said textbooks in Burundi's school system are often passed in between classes and it is, therefore, difficult to know who scribbled on the President's image in the first place."It's ridiculous that we're at a point where we even have to ask or interject this point in a conversation. These are schoolgirls that are being detained," he said.CNN was not immediately able to reach the Burundi government for comment on the case.School children in Burundi have previously been jailed in the past for similar offenses.In 2016, agents of the National Intelligence Service of Burundi arrested eight secondary school students for allegedly insulting Nkurunziza by writing phrases like "Get out" or "No to the 3rd term" on a picture of the President in a textbook, according to Human Rights Watch.The same year, hundreds of children were expelled from several schools for scribbling on the President's face in their books.President Nkurunziza, who has been in office since 2005, was re-elected to a third term in 2015despite massive protests and concerns over the legality of running beyond his second term.But Burundi's constitutional court ruled that he was eligible because he was picked by parliament, not elected by people, during his first term.Scores died in the violence that marred the 2015 vote.Human Rights Watch said the case was "quickly becoming the benchmark for a crackdown of freedom of expression since 2015."The organization added that it would apply pressure on the government of Burundi to release the girls.He said the students in 2016 were released after pressure from the international community following their initial conviction."Burundi used to be the benchmark in the region for freedom of expression and association, but ever since the president decided to change the constitution to run for a third mandate," Mudge said.'When he saw the backlash against that, the response from the president has been to crackdown and limit the space of dissent."He added: "We're seeing the consequence of that play out and frankly this case is ridiculous."Just weeks ago, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said the agency was forced to shut its local office of 23 years under concerted pressure from the Burundian government.Source: CNNLEAGUE OF JUSTICE ONLINE

March 24, 2019, 4:49 am
africa

Burkina Faso - the country where it’s too dangerous to go to school


The headteacher says the school just outside the town of Foubé in northern Burkina Faso, which the BBC visited in March, had closed after an attack by armed men in the area."A lot of schools have been torched. Teachers have been attacked and some even killed," says Samuel Sawadogo, explaining that most of his staff fled in the wake of the raid."When a teacher is killed, no-one does anything - so we have to save ourselves."In the three areas affected by an upsurge in violence in Burkina Faso, 1,111 out of 2,869 schools have closed in recent months. These regions - the North, the Sahel and the East - are in the north of the country that borders Mali and Niger where jihadist militants have operated for several years. In the province of Soum, in Sahel Region, 352 schools are now closed.More than 150,000 children are affected by these closures - a staggering number in a country where education is already an issue. In 2016, only 57.9% of children finished primary school.Mr Sawadogo says the security forces have failed to protect the community, but he remains hopeful that his school will be able to reopen soon.Parents scaredA visit to various schools in different areas paints a complex picture: the reasons why they close or why they are empty vary.Some schools, especially in the Sahel province, are directly targeted by Islamist militants, who are against Western education. Others, like the one in Foubé, are closed by teachers worried that they will be targets.A number of schools are open but empty because parents are scared their children will be attacked on their way to class.Near Foubé, we find another school, which is nominally open but its classrooms are empty."I don't think all the children will come back," a teacher at the school, Joseline Ouedraogo, tells the BBC."But if some of them come back, we'll do our best so that they can catch up on the time lost," she says.Emergency classroomsSome of those schools could remain empty for a while: thousands have fled their villages and are now living in camps.The number of internally displaced people rose from 43,000 in December to 100,000 in January.Insecurity in the country is not just linked to Islamist militancy and in the camp of Barsalogho, in North Central Region, more than 1,000 people have arrived recently after fleeing inter-communal violence.More than half of those are children and in the two emergency classrooms that have been set up, maybe 100 children overall were present on the day of our visit.Not all those who are displaced have access to emergency education as many have fled to neighbouring villages, living in host communities.In the village of Gorgadji, in the Sahel Region, 1,000 people have recently arrived, fleeing active armed groups operating in nearby Soum.According to the administrative head of the village, Boniface Kaboré, only an estimated 30 children have since registered at the 32 schools available in the area.Militant attacks quadrupledWorsening and spreading insecurity in the country is taking a deep toll on children."When children miss out on school - especially in times of conflict - not only are they unable to learn the skills they need to build peaceful and prosperous communities; they also become vulnerable to horrific forms of exploitation including sexual abuse and forced recruitment into armed groups," said Henrietta Fore, executive director of the UN children's agency.The government says it is actively working to address the situation."We are going to bring back security everywhere. I can't tell you how, or get into the details, but there are different plans being put in place," government spokesman Remis Dandjinou tells the BBC."In some areas we are already able to re-open, in others we are closing, so the strategy varies depending on the location."For years Burkina Faso was immune to the violence that wreaked havoc in neighbouring Mali and Niger.But the number of violent attacks suspected to involve Islamist militants has quadrupled in a year in Burkina Faso, according to monitoring groups like the International Crisis Group and the Africa Center for Strategic Studies.There are several reasons to explain the increase and spread of attacks.Fighters affiliated to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group in the Sahara have made their way south into Burkina Faso.A local-grown group, Ansarul Islam, has also grown in capability.These groups are increasingly in communication with one another and are probably collaborating at some level, US and Burkinabe officials say.Many soldiers in the Burkinabe army are also unprepared - those who are prepared are deployed outside the country, in neighbouring Mali as part of the regional UN force Minusma.The government says it is also paying the price for not negotiating with extremists."For years we had an army whose purpose was to defend a regime and not protect a territory," says Mr Dandjinou."There was a deal with the government in place that enabled terrorists to get safe passage and treatment here in exchange for leaving the country unharmed."The government spokesman says that deal evaporated when Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was elected president in 2015 - and that is when the attacks started, including two large-scale attacks on the capital, Ouagadougou."We have gone from a phase where we were victims of attacks to a phase where we are on the offensive, going into those areas to clear them out of those terrorists."For now, many parents and their children are living on standby, too afraid to go home, let alone consider school.SOURCE: BBCLEAGUE OF JUSTICE ONLINE

March 24, 2019, 4:36 am

today in history

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