The State of Africa

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The State of Africa:
The Ghost of Sani Abacha
Bathing under half of a yellow sun
Watches
As things fall apart
In the secret lives of Baba Segi’s wives

A Letter to my Unborn Child

There were many who came before you
Who decided that the world they were born into
Was not going to be the one they would die in
Ones who dared to dream of another future
And woke up every day to realize those dreams
They didn’t need to be told their dreams were valid
 
I pray that this is the world you will be born into
One in which you’re able to chart your own course
Without seeking the permission of others
 
I pray that you will not know of days when
Our bodies
Were fragmented
Compartmentalized along with our identities
When the dignity, integrity and autonomy
Of our bodies which house us
Was up for negotiation
 
I pray that you will not know of
Violence, abuse and discrimination
At the hands of
Those meant to protect you
Your parents/teachers/partner/police or employers
And perhaps worst of all, by the society at large
Condemning your very birth and gender
 
I pray that
FGM
Child and forced marriages
Rape, widow inheritance
Breast ironing
Honor killings,
Will be foreign words to you
A taboo to the entire community
That the only culture you know
Puts your safety and well-being
Above all else
 
I pray that you will not know of a time
When bullets were more readily available than bread
When profits came before people
When industries were mined on our backs
When our own drowned in foreign shores
Searching for a life worth living
 
I pray that
Your realities will only be peppered
By the understanding that those before you
Overcame the most horrendous of sufferings
 
I pray, my unborn child, that you will only know days
Where those who used to be at the margins of our societies
Are now at its centre
 
Where gender parity and equality are not principles
In an idealist conversation
But rather your daily reality
 
Where you have an equal say, share and control
Of the resources this continent has to offer
Where your voice and your choice
May be questioned, but never threatened
 
Where we care for the earth
And the sustenance it births
 
Where your chances of becoming the next
President
CEO
Pilot
Scientist
Engineer
Media Owner
Is equal to that of your brother
 
Where the guns will be silenced
Where justice & peace are simply
The constant and consistent state of affairs
 
Where all people, everywhere
Are treated with
The Dignity & Respect
They deserve and were born entitled to
 
And I pray, my little sweet one,
That as I end this letter
And read it to others,
 
That they won’t dismiss it as the rantings
Of a mad idealist who dreams of an impossible utopia
I pray that they will wake up from their stupor
Wake into a state of consciousness that makes them realize
We can and we must refuse to accept things as they are
We must be mad and ‘dare to invent the future’
Another reality is not only possible—
It is necessary

After all, we are reminded:
‘Africa is still waiting for its makers to re-make it’
‘We shall be the ones we’ve been waiting for’
 
Together, we’ll create that world for you
And for those who come after you
 
And when that day comes,
My unborn child,
I can’t wait to welcome you into it

©Nebila Abdulmelik, November 2014

We’ve lost the last vestiges of our humanity

‘What makes it even more unconscionable, more horrific is that they’re being blamed for their own deaths – there’s a deliberate, systematic campaign to blame the victims….

Let’s put things in context. It’s very disingenuous to say no nation will accept being shelled by rockets…it’s the other way around, it’s exactly the other way around! No nation can accept to be imprisoned, besieged by air, by land, by sea and being starved and deprived of the most basic requirements for decent life….no nation can accept to be treated like defenseless canon fodder’ – Hanan Ashrawi

May we always remember Rasul’s words paraphrased:
“If one of you sees something wrong, change it with your hand; if you cannot, then with your tongue; if you cannot, then with your heart and this is the weakest [level of] faith…..there is no part of faith behind that, not even so much as a mustard seed.” – Prophet Muhammed (PBUH)

Take action.
Join the BDS movement.
Add your voice calling for a military embargo of Israel.
Demand that  companies who are contributing to the death, destruction, oppression, occupation and injustice to stop doing so.

In Solidarity and Struggle,

The Lion’s Daughter

In Solidarity – Resistance is Existence

Palestine

The constant bombardment and occupation, the arbitrary arrests and indefinite detention, the incessant killing – an entire family of 18 killed at once from an attack – the very real fear and reality of being bombed to non-existence – regardless if you’re an infant or an elder, a student or a fighter, the deliberate policy to suffocate existence and ability of people to live lives of dignity,  crushing any possibility for ‘loving thy neighbor’  for over half a century  – if that isn’t terrorism, I don’t know what is. We must join the BDS movement  –  we must boycott, divest and sanction Israel until it stops its systematic policies of state oppression, violence, destruction, apartheid and terror against the Palestinian people.

In Solidarity. Resistance Is Existence and Existence Is Resistance.

Further viewpoints:

Marwan Bishara – On Journalistic Responsibility: Media & Palestine

‘…a military occupation is a violence-based system managed through force; one that breeds more of the same. No act, terrible as it might be, could or should be seen separately from the larger system of violence governing an occupied territory. Separating individual cases of violence from the larger context of collective violence is morally irresponsible and journalistically misleading.

The occupation is not a theological or religious issue. Not a question of Muslim and Jew, Arab and Israeli. It’s about power, its pretexts and ramifications.’

Richard Falk – Tormenting Gaza

‘Granted that such indiscriminate rocket attacks are unlawful forms of resistance, but to single out this lesser type of violence and overlook the greater violence distorts the context in biased and unacceptable ways. Surely, the greater occasion of terror is that being inflicted on the hapless Gazans as disclosed by comparing the casualty figures, and surely the political condemnation by responsible governments and even more so by the UN should be directed at the aggressor, who also happens to be the only political actor with the means to end the escalating violence.

The international reaction to this latest crisis confirms for all with eyes to see that geopolitical alignments, not law or justice, dominate the diplomacy of leading western states and the UN, when it comes to the Middle East, and especially if it concerns Israel-Palestine, and never more so than in relation to Gaza.’

Here’s an interactive map that chronicles disproportionate attacks on Gaza since 2005 and 11 Infographs that break down the injustices.

Join the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement for justice, freedom and equality.

In Solidarity and Struggle,
The Lion’ Daughter

The Africa I Envision – #TheAfricaWeWant/Need

#TheAfricaWeWant

I envision an Africa
Where our little ones grow up
Believing the world is their oyster
Knowing that whatever dreams they may have,
‘Their dreams are valid’
And not only are pockets packed with dreams
But dreams also pack pockets

An Africa
Where our elders are well taken care of
Because we’re not only thinking about the ‘youth bulge’ but also the resulting ‘aging bulge’
Where our youth are not robbed of today at the promise of tomorrow
Where our educators, our healers, our artists, activists and creatives are valued
Where we tell, retell and value his and her stories equally

An Africa
Where our dignity cannot be bought or sold for a dollar
Where we don’t have to fight to survive
Where we don’t struggle for
Sima/Ugali/Foufou/Injera/Aish
Or Freedom

An Africa of
Solidarity and Sisterhood
Beauty and Brotherhood
Unity but not uniformity
Where the multiplicity of our voices strengthen us

Where our Africanness is not determined
By the shade of our skin
Our ability to Afro-speak
Dress in ‘African’ garb
There is no shade of African
#TheAfricaWeWant is one
Where we recognize
‘I am not African because I was born in Africa,
But because Africa was born in me’

I envision
Seamless borders
Where no visas are required for African citizens
Where I can travel freely from Cairo to Capetown,
By road or rail
Where my journey from Dakar to Mogadishu is not punctuated by a stop over in Europe
Where the color of my passport is only a mere technicality

I envision
An Africa of conscious citizens
That would rather take a stand than take a seat
An Africa that respects its people and the planet
And an Africa that reflects the realities, aspirations and ambitions of its people

I envision
An Africa where our voices matter
Not simply at the ballot boxes
An Africa where half of our 55 nations have females heading them
An Africa which has no room for rulers preaching ‘democrazy’
No room for impunity
Where leaders realize they are public servants
Hired and fired by the will of the people
Where the bellies of people trump pockets of the high & mighty

An Africa
Where war drums and guns are silenced
Overwhelmed by the tranquility of peace
Where police protect rather than harass
Where we critique our governments without risking our lives

An Africa
Where harmful practices – FGM, early and forced marriages
Mothers dying giving life, children on the streets
Disease and poverty
Are confined to story books

Where security is defined by
Satiated bellies, healthy bodies, educated minds,
The safety of our streets, our homes, our schools
Our communities

I envision
An Africa where we pull each other up
For when one is down, so are we all

I envision
An Africa of the highest standards
Where “TIA” is a statement of excellence
Because there’s no room for mediocrity in #TheAfricaWeWant & Need

I envision an Africa that is the epitome of
Equality
Integrity
Solidarity
And self-sufficiency

One in which all members of our African community lead and live lives of dignity, respect and justice.

This is not only #TheAfricaWeWant, but also #TheAfricaWeNeed if we are not only to survive, but to thrive for generations to come.

Dear Momma

I write this to you today as the World commemorates Mother’s Day. I salute and pay tribute to you – everything you do, all you are, have been and continue to be. For reminding us that the revolution will only be sustained by love, and that we must begin by loving ourselves. For teaching us to breathe beauty. To seek knowledge. To grow and build by picking others up along the way.

I cannot wait to be a mother, so that I too may be able to pass these things on, as you have done for me. But I’m also anxious. Anxious about the world in which our offspring will grow up. Disheartened by the fact that 300 girls can be abducted from their schools, what is meant to be a safe refuge and still not found close to four weeks later. Heartbroken and enraged by the 25 who were abducted and the 50+ school boys who were massacred months prior and got little attention.  Disillusioned by the kind of governments who seem to have little if any regard for their citizens – at least those in far-removed remote areas whose socio-economic status perhaps doesn’t threaten.

Perhaps the love and the beauty that we’re taught can counteract all the ugly in this world.

Today, I stand in solidarity with all the mothers whose children have been abducted, tortured, killed, disappeared – who are victimized by terrorism and the counter terrorism efforts which seems to have the same effect. As we agitate to #BringBackOurGirls, may we never forget the thousands who are currently detained at Kaserani, whose homes are barged into every night, whose lives are  disrupted, whose dignity is trampled.

As we begin to shape #TheAfricaWeWant and the #Post2015, next development agenda, may we never forget that at the core of it all, we all want Dignity, Justice and Respect.

In Solidarity and Struggle,

The Lion’s Daughter.

 

 

Necessity for the Revolution

‘The Emancipation of women is not an act of charity,
the result of a humanitarian or compassionate attitude.
The liberation of women is a fundamental necessity for the revolution,
a guarantee of its continuity and a precondition for its victory.’

-Samora Michel, 1973

Everything You Do Matters

Don’t be disheartened.
Don’t be disillusioned.
Understand that everything you do matters.
If a pebble in the oceans can create ripples,
Why do we doubt that the pebbles and bigger stones thrown into the universe
(Whether to build or destroy)
Don’t set the beginning of foundations
Or create cracks in our systems
Preparing them to come crumbling?

Updates – #JusticeForLiz

Many thanks for all the support, the love, the solidarity and outrage for #JusticeForLiz. Unbelievable how far a petition that had an initial target of 1000 could go – now at 1.3 million and counting.

This story has gone global – with vast media coverage from Al Jazeera, CNN, BBC, RFI, AFP, Reuters, and numerous other media platforms#JusticeForLiz has also trended globally. (Media Coverage Mapping)

Yesterday, we managed to mobilize at least 500 people including 100 FEMNET members – African women from across the continent –  to come to the streets to say “Enough is Enough” to demand Justice, Dignity and Respect – for Liz and all other survivors and victims of violence.

We presented the 1.3million+ petition to the Office of the Inspector General, along with a list of our key demands.  Although the Inspector General wasn’t there to receive us himself, the Chief of Staff received us, took his time, answered our questions and asked us to come back today for a private meeting.

The way we were received today – starting at the gate (with soldiers greetings us warmly with smiles, telling us “you’re the ones from yesterday!” and introducing themselves to us, taking us to the office) – the Chief of Staff and his fellow officers taking over 2 hours to sit down and discuss our concerns and demands and to be able to come up with a number of immediate and long-term strategies including; revising the police curriculum and service standards to ensure gender sensitivity across the board,  guidelines on how to handle gender crimes and the establishment of gender response units.

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has also referred this case to the National Council for Administrative Justice, top-level oversight body which brings together the judiciary, the police, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Attorney General.

We’ll be following this up – we will not stop until there is a precedent set with this case and due diligence is followed through and Liz’s case becomes a turning point for the way such crimes are handled, in Kenya and across the region.

The culture of violence, impunity and lack of accountability must come to an end.

Are “Women’s Rights” Dirty Words?

I was talking to someone about what I do.  I told him I work for a women’s rights organization. He raised his hands and backed away. We began to discuss why.  He told me he has nothing against “women’s rights” but that sometimes we go overboard. We should take it slow, and go with culture.

But culture is dynamic I told him. It’s not static. Culture is learned, and so it can be unlearned.

You may have heard of Liz, a 16 year old who was gang-raped on her way back from her grandfather’s funeral in Busia, Kenya. She was dumped in a pit latrine. She is wheel-chair bound and has the worst case of fistula, a condition that doesn’t allow her to control her urine and feces. Though she recognized three of her rapists and reported to the police, the police caught them, ‘punished’ them by ordering them to cut grass and then let them go. A campaign to get #JusticeForLiz has been launched – to address the wider issues of patriarchy, impunity, lack of public accountability and the culture of violence that permeates. Please sign the petition and engage in the conversations. Liz is one case – there are countless more like her.

I see my world – and among all the beauty, I do see ugly. I see a culture of violence, a culture of impunity, a culture of disrespect, a culture of absolute injustice. So my question is, do we wait for culture to catch up or do we do whatever we can to make sure that the culture our kids and their kids grow up is a culture that encourages integrity, accountability, respect and justice that allows people to live dignified lives?

At the end of the day, I think we all want respect and we all want dignity. That’s it. And my struggle for women’s rights is to do that.

If this is crossing the line, then yes, watch out – we are crossing lines.

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