African women in the United States are three times more likely to die as a result of intimate partner violence (IPV). Although we represent only 8 percent of the U.S. population, 22 percent of African women have died as a result of IPV and we are also 29 percent of all cases of victimized women.
Throughout Africa, women are being summarily killed, raped or maimed under the pretext of war or tradition. In Somalia 95 percent of girls between the ages of four and eleven are victims of female genital mutilation (FGM).
In South Africa, women who are suspected of being lesbian are viciously raped in a practice called “corrective rape.” The perpetrators of these heinous assaults are often African men and sometimes African women as in the case of FGM.
There is no freedom for African people if half of its population is oppressed or exploited by the other half. In African revolutions of the past, namely Guinea Bissau and Mozambique, women played pivotal roles on the front line in the struggle to end colonial domination.
Even though great strides were made to overturn colonial imposed ideas about the role of women in African society during the armed revolutionary struggle (which allowed for African women to become leaders) after the revolution wound down, women saw our place retard to a level of backwardness that left us poised for victimization through parasitic capitalism and horizontal violence. Because we were not successful in destroying capitalism entirely, its influence over our lives prevails, preventing us from creating a new society that will overturn all forms of violence especially ones that perpetuate colonial imposed violence.
We are making this struggle again; to empower African women to be “leaders, makers and shapers of our new society” and in doing that African women along with African men have to take a stand against the violence that permeates our communities; that’s why the creation of the African National Women’s Organization (ANWO) is so important. By bringing African women into political life and arming them with the theory of African Internationalism, we are better prepared to take on colonialism and in doing so help to stamp out colonial ideas like the superiority of men.
If African men continue to act in a way that infringes on the rights of African women to also be free of oppression, then they must be made to understand that they are acting in the same way that the oppressor nation acts toward the entire African nation. This is completely unacceptable.
Europe imposed anti-woman culture on Africa
We must be clear how enslavement and colonialism interrupted African lives. The European developed in a hostile environment. During a period of seven years (1346-1353) a little more than half of Europe’s population died as a result of the bubonic plague. They had no resources and since most of the people were dead, there was a serious labor shortage, which caused serious internal turmoil throughout Europe.
European women were not free. They were relegated to property and their primary role in marriage was to produce male heirs. They couldn’t own property, were not allowed to divorce, and could not inherit from their parents if they had brothers or a close male relative. Women were considered a burden.
African society developed under totally different conditions. Land was plentiful, food abundant, no fear of disease, society was communal, arts and technology prevailed.
Women were important parts of the community, owning land and often responsible for commerce throughout the continent, as we have been the natural custodians of marketplace trade. We remained part of our family structure even after marriage and had the freedom to end a marriage and return to our families if our husbands behaved badly.
Men could not relegate women to the level of commodity. Both men and women played important roles in the progression of the African world. Women were not considered burdens.
So when these two worlds collided –the European world-more experienced with weapons of mass destruction and terror, because of their hostile way of life – African society was forcefully regressed to a European primitivism, enforced through violence.
Enslavement and colonization of Africa and African people halt.ed the natural development of African society. The values and policies of the oppressor nation be.came dominant and as we have been under the foot of capitalism since this time, many of us believe that their way of life is something intrinsic to African people.
This includes the way that Af.rican women are made to work like beasts of burden, anywhere we are in the world and how violence is often taken out against us because our role has been devalued.
NGOs attack African unity
It should also be noted that when we are devalued and used as pawns, it generates a lot of interest from imperialist humanitarian agencies called NGOs who call themselves taking up a “defense” for us, often calling for U.S. or European military intervention. Violence against us commissions imperialist violence against and the beastializing of African men.
When Congo was declared the rape capital of the world, Af.rican men were simultaneously named the rapist of the world. And when Boko Haram kidnapped girls in Nigeria African men were again targeted as the perpetrators of violence and shown as completely incapable of protecting or defending African women.
The defense of African women by NGOs can only be seen as an imperialist created tool to deepen U.S. and European military influence in Africa. The same can be said of the U.S. when pictures of African men who murder, beat, and rape African women are plastered across the screens of imperialist media as way to deepen the contradictions that exist between us.
The call is then for African men to say Not in My Name or under my watch will African women be harmed by anyone. To allow violence against African women allows our oppressors to win.
African women, we must also say Not in My Name will we allow ourselves to be used as a way to further deepen this contradiction. So we must determine that we have to be politically astute, physically prepared and part of organization that challenges colonialism. We mustn’t let them win!
African women, join ANWO by visiting anwouhuru.org.