Reflecting on Pan African Women’s Day, 2020

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I attended the Pan African Women’s Day forum at Olympic Primary School in Kibra. It was such an eye-opening experience for me. I arrived just before noon. Next to the hall where the event took place was a booth for registration and some items for sale such as Upendo health products, handbags among other items.

Panel discussions were led by Ruth Mumbi, Wanjiru Wanjira and Faith Kasina.

Editar Ochieng asked whether any one of us has read the Reproductive Health bill. Unfortunately none of us had read the document though a number of the participants had heard about it. She challenged us to read it thoroughly as reproductive health affects all women. In the discussion, Fibroids and Endometriosis emerged as some of the diseases that women have to deal with.

On Radical Change, it was emphasized that being radical does not necessarily mean being cruel, destructive or joining terrorist groups such as the Al-Shabaab. What we are and were advocating for is Radical Feminism that seeks to abolish patriarchy and make liberation inclusive to all.

In the discussion, Female Genital Mutilation was mentioned as among one of the ways that power gets taken away from women. With FGM, women’s sexual right to pleasure is taken away in a patriarchal society where only a man is expected to enjoy sex. According to the gospel that is authored by the patriarchal society, a woman is regarded as wayward if she enjoys or demands for sex.

The ways in which global warming and climate change affect women directly was also discussed. An example was given of a woman living in a marginalized area and who has to walk for long distances in search of water. When she is on her period, she needs more water to clean herself, cater for all the house-hold needs and even water for the domestic animals. In her long search for water she risks being attacked by animals or men who might rape or violate her.

We were informed of a tree planting project that has been going in the community and were told that the previous morning, three trees were planted by Kasina’s team. It was agreed that from then onward, an indigenous tree would be planted in honour of any youth killed by the police and that the planting would be done by the mother of the deceased. The tree would serve as a long-lasting memorial of the fallen youth.

The importance of eating healthy food so as to fight diseases was also discussed. It was said that everybody ought to eat healthily. Attendees of the event were reminded of Thomas Sankara’s words, “He who feeds you, controls you.” We were told about the introduction of foreign crops to Africans by the colonial oppressors and how over the years, Africans continuously disregarded their foods and think of them as not ‘cool’ while, in fact, the ‘cool’ foods are causing illnesses such as cancer. Maize, for example, with aflatoxins has been known to cause cancer of the liver. It was agreed that the group would start eating foods their ancestors subsisted on.

There was a play by a local drama group. The play’s theme was on the importance of voting wisely and desisting from demanding for hand-outs from politicians. It was said that there were very many people out there who were good leaders but because they did not have the money to bribe voters, they never got elected.

It was agreed that there was an urgent need for Political education. Those in attendance were reminded of Thomas Sankara words once again, “Without patriotic political education, a soldier is only a potential criminal”. It was agreed that women should be in the forefront of agitating for the two thirds gender rule.

Towards the end of the day’s activities, there was a zoom conference call by Roselyn Akombe, former IEBC Commissioner.

Reaching Out
I am fortunate to have been brought up in a home that was active in the struggle for social justice for all Kenyans in the last 2 decades and topping that up with the books that I have been reading and the progressive discussions of the day’s event, I can confidently conclude that women are the backbone of the society.

To win this battle for the true liberation of all Kenyans where there is justice for all, equal opportunities, dignity, human rights for all and where the rule of law and the constitution is respected by all, we must reach out to all like-minded citizens regardless of race, tribe or class. I noted with dismay a number of speakers stating that the people who reside in posh areas such as Karen can never join the struggle as they lead very comfortable and shielded lives. This made me squirm in my seat as I am a resident of Karen and my heart aches when I see injustice. As it was my first time to attend such an event, I lacked the courage to rise up and challenge that stereotype.

It is true that some youth who reside in the posh areas assume that those youths who live in the slums are there because they are not hard-working or that they lack motivation. There is a deep-rooted mistrust between these two groups of youths which is nurtured by ignorance and perfected by the politicians divide and rule strategy just as they have been using men versus women as a battle line. The fact is that we all live in this country that is being raped and looted by the so-called leaders, a country that has regressed as a result of the reckless debts that will have to be paid for by ALL of us. For this generation to win the liberation war we need everyone on board and we must urgently demolish this nonsensical man-made ship of upper deck and lower deck.

Wangui Wairuri, a student and activist reflects on her participation of Pan African Women’s Day, 2020

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