19 August 2018
The testimony of the dancer Makady, leaves you without words. She was described as an emotional heroine by one of the many people who gathered on Sunday 19th in the African Village. It’s an area of the festival dedicated to the African continent, on this occasion in the form of Feminism from the perspective of back women such as Jane Oma, from Upside Africa and Angela Nzambi, technician from CEAR-PV.
“I’m a woman, black, African, muslim, African-Spanish and a victim of female mutilation”, and that’s how we got to know Makady, full of emotion, who since not long ago has decided to fight against what has always been her worst nightmare, female mutilation. She has become a loudspeaker of this reality; “This is like my therapy and thanks to it I can continue helping other women”.
With her long hopeful green braids, Makady gave her presentation infront of us, liberated of prejudice and much more aware of her condition as a free woman; “Rototom is the place to let go and then replant”. Her story isn’t easy and during the journey she had to deal with her own body, but also with her mind. Dance has been one of the tools that she has found, convinced that when they told her she couldn’t do it, the best response was; “Why not?” and she did it. She understands her past and continues to connect with the female role model she has in her life; her mother. Now she also does it with many other women through her testimony.
When Makady finishes speaking we see one of the most characteristic features of feminism; sisterhood. The three speakers hugged and for a moment it seemed that this green hope of her braids had even more power.
The role of Angela Nzambi in this encounter was to speak about feminism for black women being fundamental and helps us to understand its proper context. It’s important to bear in mind that every continent has its culture, a history and a proper context. These characteristics that also make feminism, along with equality and a basis of the liberation of women as independent human beings, are constructed in a different form. It’s important the remember that the concept of European feminism is not the only one and it’s key to comprehend contexts in order to, in turn, understand that these types of movement and change the way in which the continent is viewed.
“The difference between theory and practice”, is how Angela put it. There is a difference between the beginnings of the feminist movement between black women in the 60s and when they started to theorise about it. She spoke to us about a independent woman who decides for herself. One of the biggest steps for black women in Africa has been achieving economic independence. We were also presented with issues that are faced and their respective consequences that happen to them just for being women, such as; polygamy, female mutilation, large families, education, health, primary sector (80% of the population work in agriculture for example, mostly women), speculation, armed conflicts and developments. Above all keeping in mind that the work of many women is usually invisible when in reality they are the pillar. Yet nobody shows it.
“Every women, starting from where they are, has to define what feminism is; what it means to be a women”, are the words of Jane Oma, who, exceptionally generously shared her close intimacy to show to young women that stood up; “I decide”. She spoke to us about identity based feminism and had no fear having experience sexist attitudes if in the past she has had to learn from them. From Jane we also learned the story of her mother and father, in addition to her own story, and for a moment we understood that feminism can have various interpretations according to the context, but that doesn’t take away its value or strength.
Written by Asun Pérez Cabezas and translated by Finn Darco