Colonialism is the greatest threat to African women

The following is an excerpt from the 2024 Political Report to the ANWO Convention written by Yejide Orunmila.

Using African Internationalism, we can provide a clear path to freedom for African women.

As the African National Women’s Organization (ANWO) advances its work, we intend to further dismantle the hegemony that feminists have obscured concerning the issues of class and violence. These are pitfalls we see our sisters drop into time and again.

The African petite-bourgeoisie, neocolonialism

The class contradiction is a gray area amongst the African masses.

There is a collective celebration when a woman accomplishes a high achievement within the white ruling class structures. For example, the selection of Kamala Harris as the U.S. vice president and the appointment of judge Julia Sebutinde to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) meant a lot to African women, creating a shared pride for their accomplishments.

African women donned pearl necklaces and Converse’s Chuck Taylor sneakers on inauguration day to celebrate the first “woman of color” becoming the U.S. vice president. Sebutinde’s acceptance to the ICJ garnered cheers and accolades from women on the internet and in her home country of Uganda.

In both instances, however, when African working-class people needed these women to stand against oppression, they did not.

These women are instead rewarded by the white ruling class for their unity. Only a week after voting against South Africa’s application against Israel for violating the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Julia Sebutinde, the sole African woman judge in the decision-making, was selected as the International Court of Justice vice president.

The contradiction deepens further when we reveal the irony of the South African settler colony submitting such an application. Despite neocolonial African leadership, the minority white settler population still owns and controls the means of production, while the majority African population is distributed throughout the country’s 532 townships where rampant poverty and violence persists.

Additionally, we popularize the phrase “black girl magic,” something that is only reserved for African petit-bourgeois achievements, when it should be popularizing “black girl against colonialism,” a phrase that would recognize the achievements of African women fighting for our collective liberation.

We must be wary of women who achieve high-ranking positions amongst the white ruling class, especially if we don’t know who they are.

The time demands that African women make a choice. Are we for imperialism or are we for liberation of African people?

This cannot be determined by someone achieving a spot in bourgeois institutions, but rather by their track record in defending what is right even when faced with the full power of imperialism. We must take an anti-imperialist, anti-colonial approach.

Colonial violence, horizontal and vertical

A few weeks into January, women in Kenya held one of the biggest protests the country has seen, calling attention to Kenyan “femicide,” the escalating murders of women.

It was the third week into the new year and already 14 women had been murdered. The feminist organizers called for men to be held accountable for the violence.

However, the violence wasn’t contained just to women but instead extended to the entire population. Therefore it was not femicide, as the feminist organizers claimed, but evidence of escalating violence overall.

The violence that affects women is happening within a country where all African people are experiencing violence from the State and from within the colony.

As Kenya sends its citizens to be migrant workers for Israel—in the face of Palestinian resistance to Israel’s colonial rule over them—and sends its police to contain Haitian resistance, the violence inside the colony escalates.

Although we empathize with the murders of women, we are more concerned with Kenya’s nascent imperialist policy organized by the U.S. military which also manifests itself in the daily lives of Kenyan people. This includes the escalating violence against and deaths of African women.

It is deeply important to us to create an African Internationalist anti-colonial narrative around violence that does not name African men as the greatest threat to African women when African men are largely victims of colonial violence.

We squarely blame the parasitic social system that maintains its power using violence. African men and women are victims of this culture of violence even if it manifests itself interpersonally.

When it comes down to challenging these specific oppressions, however, the groups fighting against them are often women or directly impacted.

What kind of society do we hope to have if only one-half of it works toward a solution and the other can barely be bothered, either because they believe it is a women’s issue or they don’t do anything because they benefit from it?

Our work, as revolutionaries, is to bring it to the surface and create communal responses to ensure the eradication of all backward oppressive practice and the ultimate destruction of colonial capitalism.

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