In ancient Africa, whilst the man was the head of the family, the woman was the center of the family. The mother brought the family together and was often the intermediary between the children and the father. Mothers, sisters and aunts would bring the whole family together often during large feasts.
In Ancient Egypt Women could own property and were legally at court, equal to men. Many women worked and in some cases even ended up in high society some even becoming Pharaoh.
In the modern era as nations were colonized women lost their rights. When once they were respected and honored above everyone, Queens in their own right, the family unit was threatened and many lost the basic humanities that were once awarded to them.
When I first read this question; ‘ How do African Women Engage The World and Create A New Paradigm’ I thought of all the How’s.
Until I realized that it is no longer a question of asking how but a time of action and simply shifting the conversation.
We live at a time where people for decades have stood up and blamed society, blamed ‘them.’ When it is us who are in-fact a part of society.
In the same way that it is us in fact the people who make up the world. Around the world women in different corners are creating movements and shifting the playing field.
Like Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg who founded Lean In; a non profit organisation aimed at offering women the ongoing inspiration and support to help them achieve their goals.and has enabled women around the world to join together and ‘lean in.’
Now in Africa and right here in Harare Zimbabwe, Brenda Thoko Mangunda has carried this torch forward starting her own lean in circle and connecting women from around the city and building even smaller circles.
Women like Brenda, Sheryl and Sandra Kawodza who is the founder and manager of Eclipse Executive Selection and her own group of ladies called ‘Elite Business Women,’ have managed to not only engage the women around them in their own circles but have bridged gaps created by distance by leveraging the internet and utilizing platforms such as WhatsApp to build their communities.
These women and many others have gone out in a bid to amplify the voice of the African woman.
Pauline Nyasha Matambanadzo, Founder & CEO of PDP Consultancy P/L, also provides a series of Recovery, Re-imagine, and Reboot resources under the Flagship #Re-Calibr8
Re-Calibr8 is specifically geared to empower women and young people by facilitating and creating platforms for restoration from traumatic events.
Carol Marufu is the cofounder of Visual Sensations which is a production company that aims to spread positivity and spread awareness through the use of media channels such as films, tv/talk shows and online media hubs such as blogs and vlogs.
Being an African woman I am proud to be living at a time when we have so many women who are living breathing example’s of what the African Woman can do.
“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story. Show a people as one thing, only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
In this technological hub and digital space even with the use of the same platforms, the African voice has been commentary instead of the lead of the conversation. In the past few years as women’s rights have rose to the surface and women’s voices have been amplified the African woman’s voice has still bounds to go to reach the surface.
Whilst the world has been faced with social issues and spreading social awareness, a large portion of the African women are faced with seeking value addition.
Many women are still working from dusk till dawn in small towns in a bid to feed their families even in the face of a failing economy.
Whilst others lucky enough are graduating from Universities around the world.
Others even luckier are working but battling crippling pay gaps, sexual harassment or depression in communities that aren’t cognisant of mental health issues.
For the African Women to truly engage the world we must first acknowledge that all African Woman are different, living in different conditions and facing different problems and that even as a collective we are constantly on different journeys in need of different things and it is up to us to acknowledge that.
We must begin to speak our own stories not only to the world at large but to each other beyond our networks and the small circles in which we are a part of.
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
– Alice Walker
For women at large our story has been painted as that of being victims or in the rare case that we are painted as strong, it is with a brush that depicts strength as being tolerant, staying or being silent.
Why I started this piece with examples of women is because I have always believed in mentorship and that as young girls we can learn more from those who came before us so we can also pass it forward and thus they are my example of How.
Like mothers of olden days who would cook large feasts and invite all their relatives over, Sandra and Brenda have been able to become Mothers of Tribes that stretch beyond only women communities.
Sandra conducts monthly workshops where she invites people(men and women) to engage and discuss topics that encompass different trades and industries.
She also uses WhatsApp to create communities for different people from entrepreneurs to lifestyle and events, digital marketing and so much more. She has taken a social media tool and utilized it to become a connecting thread for hundreds of people across borders in many sectors and as Young people we can do the same too.
Carol Marufu through Visual Sensation has started a Women’s talk show called NoFilter which aims to bridge the gap between generations by encoperating 5 women of different age groups from Gen Z to X and partnering with 263AfricaTV they aim to cross borders through the Roku platform and not only reach African Women in Africa but African Women across the world.
They also aim to utilize blogs and vlogs tailor making shows for social media distributed through Facebook and YouTube such as This is my story which shares stories of women across Zimbabwe.
They not only aim to support the voices of women by generating conversations but by sharing stories they want to partner with organisations and NGOs that women may not know of but may need access to.
We are the world and as an African woman in 2019 I say let us continue to lean in and engage with each other because only in communication can we grow.