Harriet’s Daughters – An interview with Makda Yohannes on Feminism

Editors Note: The following first appeared September 2014 in Harriet's Daughters, a page edited by comrade Yejide Orunmila that appears monthly in The Burning Spear newspaper, news organ of the African People's Socialist Party.
In the final days of the historic Cadre Intensive that was held in St. Petersburg, FL during the month of July 2014, the Secretary General of the African Socialist International, Luwezi Kinshasa, asked two questions of comrades to get their overall thoughts about the process and to understand how they internalized the theory of African Internationalism when applied to real world contradictions. The response from Makda Yohannes, a Party leader based in Sweden, is below.
Luwezi Kinshasa: What are your thoughts on Feminism?
Makda Yohannes: Before I came into the African Socialist International I used to be a feminist. I was drawn to feminism because I could see African women suffering everywhere.
As an African woman, I very often experienced oppression from African men, and I wanted to organize against this oppression.
From what I understood at that time, I chose to organize with women of all colors in different feminist movements against the patriarchal structure that is present in many cultures.
Historically, feminism as such was born as an expression from the white women to have the same rights as white men.
Simply put, white women wanted the white man to give them their piece of the loot that was stolen from Africa and other parts of the world.
White women did not include black and brown women, but wanted to climb higher on the pedestal with the white man. The same thing is happening today.
As a colonized people, as an oppressed nation, there are a lot of contradictions we face. African  Internationalism teaches us what our primary contradiction is.
We talk about horizontal versus vertical violence. Vertical violence is violence from the State against the oppressed nation or resistance by the oppressed against the oppressor. Horizontal violence is violence within the oppressed nation itself.
The primary problem for African men and women
African Internationalism taught me that the vertical violence, violence from the State, is the primary contradiction for us.
The colonial contradiction is the primary contradiction we face as oppressed people—both African men and women.
So, the question of African women being oppressed by African men is a symptom of the colonial contradiction we face as an oppressed nation.
When we are a free nation, the symptoms will be solved on our own terms and not by the opressor nation that has been oppressing us for over 500 years.
Just like when feminism was born, white women still to this very day fight to get a piece of the stolen loot.
So to fight for the ”same rights” as white women, will not change our position in the world. Instead we should be fighting to control our own resources and destinies, which is what we need in the first hand.
Us being colonized is a bigger contradiction than you being oppressed by African men. When the oppressed nation is free, free from colonial oppression, we will be able to solve our problems on our own terms.
Luwezi: What are your thoughts on the class struggle?
Makda: If you want to understand what is happening in Africa and with African people everywhere, you must understand the class question.
Usually when we hear the class question being discussed, it is discussed as the relationship between workers and bosses within the oppressor nations.
This was the perspective I had before I got political education from the African Socialist International from the worldview of the African working class worldwide.
We must understand that the class question is tied to the colonial question. If we dont put it in that context we can’t solve the real issue, which is the relationship between the oppressor and oppressed nations.
It’s still ”House Negro versus Field Negro”
With regard to the class struggle within the oppressed nation, we have the African masses (working class and poor Africans) versus the African petty bourgeoisie.
Malcolm X used an analogy where he talked about the ”house Negro versus the field Negro.” He said that the house Negro finds a stake in the existence of slavery.
It’s the same to this very day.
The African petty bourgeoisie benefits from the colonial oppression we live under. The African petty bourgeoisie live at the expense of the African masses, both in Africa and abroad.
This is why we must oppose the petty bourgeoisie in Africa and their sell-out leadership! African Internationalism says that Africa belongs to the African working class. Africa’s interest lies in the masses.
We produce everything we can see in the world but we don’t own anything. There is something fundamentally wrong with that.
The African working class must seize power over the resources that belong to us and that way we can talk about real freedom for the majority of the people of the world.
Historically, we can see that the petty bourgeoisie has fought against the true leaders of Africa and our interests by supporting the murders of heroes like Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah, Thomas Sankara, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey and many many more.
The African Socialist International is a continuation of their legacy in the aspiration to free Africa from colonial oppression and building an African economy based on the needs of the African masses and other oppressed people of the world!
This is our mission.


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