African Women: The Necessity of Struggle
"The total liberation and unification of African under an All African Socialist Government must be the primary objective of all Black revolutionaries through out the world. It is an objective which when achieved, will bring about the fulfillment of the aspirations of Africans and people of African descent everywhere. It will at the same time advance the triumph of the international, socialist revolution."
"The freedom and development of the African woman are indispensable to the freedom and emancipation of the African people"
Ahmed Sekou Toure
Myths are stories which, however marvelous and improbable to us, are nevertheless told to explain why something exists or happens. Unfortunately, myths can program the writing of history. Myths disguise truth and are potentially destructive, particularly when their legends become institutionalized. Our task is to help destroy the damaging uses of myths be destroying the system which created the myths regarding African women as we attempt to re-educate and search for new formations and symbols.
The system that created these myths is capitalism. Capitalism is an economic system by which individuals (the owners of the top corporations in the world) are allowed to deny the masses of workers and unemployed an equitable share in the wealth of the world, thereby denying the masses basic necessities (adequate nutrition, clothing, shelter and education) for living productive lives and thus limiting the productive capabilities to uplift humanity.
In attempting to analyze the situation of the African woman in America, one sees many myths. The system of capitalism under which we all live has attempted by many devious ways to destroy the humanity of African people since the inception of slavery. This has meant an outrageous assault on every African man, woman, and child who resides inside and outside the United States. Unfortunately African men and women have not understood the forces against them and have accepted negative capitalist evaluations.
African women face triple oppression all over the world as workers, as Africans and as women. African women must destroy the myth that in order for the African man to be strong the African woman must be weak. Both must be urged to be strong. The African people need strength. Telling African women to step back is to tell the African people to wait for liberation from the poor conditions they are living under today. In this highly industrialized world, every member of the African nation must be as educationally and technologically developed as possible.
The only way to deal with capitalism, the root of the damaging myths we speak of, is through organizing ourselves in order to equip ourselves to destroy capitalism. The All African Women's Revolutionary Union (AAWRU) was established for the purpose of recruiting African women to work for their people in the context of an organization fighting for the people. The AAWRU is the women's wing of the All African People's Revolutionary Party.
African women must begin to deal with the problems of the African masses for their problems are one in the same. A revolution that engages the participation of every man, woman, and child brings about a certain transformation in that man, woman, and child. It is through struggle for Pan-Africanism and the liberation of all African people that the African woman can and will achieve emancipation from her triple oppression.
"Revolution entails not only the willingness to lay our lives on the firing line... To die for the revolution is a one-shot deal; to live for the revolution means taking on the more difficult commitment of changing our day-to-day patterns. This means changing the traditional routines that we have established as a result of living in a corrupted society." (Frances Beale)
The African woman must realize that she has a right and a responsibility to participate in the struggle for the African people's right to self-determination. Participation in this struggle is part of the history of African women, part of the present, and it will be part of the future.
African women historically have made immeasurable and decisive contributions to the struggle to liberate Africa despite the advance of colonialism. In spite of oppressive social contradiction, there are numerous examples of African women rising to crush the myths and lies of her incapabilities as she rose to the heights of human capability.
Dr. Anna J. Cooper, born August 10, 1859, led a struggle for the education of African women in America. An educator, activist, and author of "A Voice from the South, By an (African) woman of the South," Dr. Cooper was a speaker and campaigner for Pan-Africanism. She spoke before the first Pan-African Congress organized by WEB DuBois and Sylvester Williams in London, 1900.
Yaa Asantewaa of Edweso, Queen Mother of Ashante, in 1900 spurred one of the most determined resistance movements in African history. With her personally trained bodyguards she waged guerrilla warfare to seize the kingdom's traditional Golden Stool from the British. She put all her funds towards the national struggle, totally committing her life to freeing her nation from British colonialism.
Azanian/South African Winnie Mandela continuously struggled as a member of the ANC against the oppressive Apartheid system. In 1963 she was placed under a banning order for five years. She was held again in 1969 for 491 days and after five months was charged under the Suppression of Communism Act. She was then tried in 1970 with other members of the ANC and served five years under house arrest. In 1976 after her release from detention she stated, "We are gathered here not only to discuss common problems but also to rediscover ourselves, our dignity, and to instill in ourselves self-reliance and self-respect." Though pregnant at the time, she participated in a massive women's anti-pass demonstration. As a result of her activities with student uprisings in Soweto, Winnie Mandela was banned to an isolated area outside the country.
We see, through these examples, that incapability does not lie with the African woman, but with the system which seeks to cripple and confuse the African masses. African women, like any other oppressed people must take the initiative in destroying conditions in society that block their development and the development of the African people as a whole. She must struggle to correct the backwardness of her fellow sisters who have not yet accepted their responsibility and the men who maintain backward tendencies that undermine the development of all Africans. Women must organize their people to liberate themselves from the vestiges of capitalism. This is the only solution to the problems currently facing them. African women in mass must organize to employ the genius of all African women to move towards the advancement of socialist revolution in a united Africa. Scientific socialism is the political and economic system that operates for the good of all humans in society as opposed to just a select few as we have under capitalism.
Around the world the progressive political organizations and revolutionary parties are proving this. Assata Shakur is the leader of the Black Liberation Army that is waging armed struggle in the United States for socialism. She broke out of the Federal Penitentiary and is now teaching in Cuba. Mozambican women took up arms alongside their men. Josina Machel, wife of late President Samora Machel died in struggle. The women of Zimbabwe under the leadership of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) played a key role in their liberation composing approximately 30% of the liberation forces. "Liberation Through Participation" was their slogan. Korea, Palestine, Guinea, Angola, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Vietnam, Cuba and Ireland have all had women who made clear their contribution to the socialism revolution with their blood and have insured their ongoing participation by establishing women's unions which guarantee their input and the development of equality between men and women.