UBUNTU: I am because We are
“My natural hair is beautiful. My natural hair is mine.
I never needed you to tell me this. I’ve known it all the time.
My natural hair is glamourous. My natural hair can do all this.
Who can tell me it matters how I wear it? But I’ve known this all the time.
O me? O my.
My natural hair is out. My natural hair is free.
It matters much now – how I wear it.
O happy me! O my!”
(‘Hair’ – LLAL 21.06.12)
I woke up with the words ‘organize’, ‘routine’ and ‘Libreville’.
Organize and routine were my action words for today. Libreville because there, begins the Dialogue for Action International Forum. Bringing together an “exceptional group of speakers and participants consisting of NGO leaders, academics and experts from the private and public sectors to identify and address the current global issues facing women today.”
I am excited about updates on this discussion; as I woke up early to ready for what would be coming through on Live Tweets throughout the day to “offer alternative ideas and nuanced voices…(and some feminist fyah to the discussions). *for us, by us* :-)”. Nonetheless, my monkey mind started swinging and I landed on a branch featuring a talk I had seen some months ago in my non-writing/blogging routine days. ‘African Fractals’ by Ron Eglash on TedTalks.
Why would this have anything to do with Libreville and the Dialogue for Action? I’m still connecting it but hear me out so far:
It makes me think of how Africa is selling itself short with so many unclaimed contributions to the world. It makes me think of how women sell themselves short because society is constructed to maintain it as so. It made me think of how, if change is to be effected for African women, it has to include and be lead by African Women; or the whole thing quickly becomes an 18th Century European export plaguing the 21st Century African mind or I rephrase, an 18th Century European attitude dictating to a 21st Century African debate.
Why I connect this lecture and the dialogue happening today is simply this: Education. And, understanding that any dialogue is an education partnership between those who want to have it, those in whose name we are having it, and those whose lives/communities we aim to benefit from having it. And breaking it down to its fractal points creates a network for change in approach, the direction of the debate, and a scalability in the movement not only for the indigenes but also its wider global community. It also spoke to me that perhaps The Dialogue for Africa is already in the blue print of African Fractals, and the societal constructs indigenous to Africa; not those imported from Colonialism, or with the best intentions.
To want to Educate more women is to understand the local systems, and societal structures/challenges in which they live. Clearly. To want to educate more African women is to allow their voice to be heard in the dialogue. Surely. And this is from the girls singing for their equality and expressing in ways of their community, language, history and heritage in mathematics, science – tools to truly empower them that is their own. There is a fragile line to be walked here when we talk of : education on a continent where we battle with ‘light is right’ (and I’m talking skin bleaching); and the weave reigns supreme (and I’m talking false hair extensions here not the natural and magnificent hair braiding techniques of old.) Or, that an Entrepreneurs face is not one represented by a ‘Market Woman’ – I will expand more on this in time. But the point here is, ensure that the dialogue where Africans are involved, includes Africans – grassroots and all walks of life Africans. And for it to be one of dialogue between equals, or it will be no dialogue at all.