In 1851 Sojourer Truth said, “If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together, ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!”. Feminine strength is rooted in the exact femininity some of us have tried to escape in the effort to attain success for ourselves and our communities.
In any case, I hiked up to the top of Table Mountain with friends of mine whom I met literally 2 mins before we began to climb. It was glorious. I was with a group of vibrant young beautiful African women, telling stories from their homes in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Nigeria. All of the ladies were graduates studying their Masters Degrees in one thing or another, mostly on prestigious Scholarships, I myself, having just entered a new Industry in a new Province, traveling around while trying to keep one ear attentively listening in on Africa’s development pulse.
On our way up the mountain, we sang songs, cheered each other on, discussed men and honesty, family, success and it’s cost. On our way down the mountain we were louder, funnier, faster, more patient with one another, we analysed our surroundings and conversed with those around us.
Despite the challenges facing us as young black women across the continent, we are the most resilient of Africa’s population. We are often called the most vulnerable, but resilient is a stronger truth. Not only this, but we are often raising our siblings and taking our own peers under our wings. Poet Rupi Kaur writes, “you could be a water and soft river your way to freedom…”. I believe this describes the works and interests of Young African Women across the continent and the diaspora who have have continued to work towards brighter futures through empowering their family systems despite opposition to their ideas. Sending the little they have home.
We want feminism but we want healed families more. You hear it in our conversations about Feminism and You see it in the things we fight for. Young Women want communities they know their children will be protected and empowered in. Young Women were not in Fees Must Fall simply because Fees had to fall but because the Generations they will birth deserve access to education.
In the exploration of African thought, philosophy, methodology, ideology etc., it is of paramount importance that we raise the real issues facing our society. For the purpose of self discovery, we are to priorities defining for ourselves; what it Means to be an African and what Africa needs to do next in order to compete and thrive.
One of the concepts we often discuss is Feminism, hence this article. We often discuss Feminism as if its application only has implications on how women are treated by men and “the system”. We also consider Feminism outside of Femininity as if Gender lines are in fact ok to blur, they are not. Why? Our bodily functions do not allow it.
This is the Feminism I say can only be considered last in line to the importance of the African Family; the Family comes first to all other structures. The Family is where we learn Loyalty, Cooperation, Productivity, Communication and many other highly critical aspects which help us to mold our Identity.
A majority of Africans born in the 70s, 80s and 90s grew up in the midst of challenges created by the breakdown and restructuring of the African family. Black Consciousness urges us to look again at Family values because the battle is in fact won where the soldier trains, eats and sleeps; only the trophy is fetched out in the streets.
We want Feminism, but We Want Healing Families More.