As we celebrate women’s month this year, Zikoko is all out for all the women breaking the bias. In this article, we are raising a toast to women from the 90s that made moves in their times. Here are a few of the African women that paved the way for us.
1. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti (1900-1978)
If you don’t know Funmilayo, I want you to go and fight your social studies teacher. This is the woman that gave us the legendary Fela Kuti. Funmilayo was an African feminist and dedicated her life to the cause. She organized tax strikes against economic policies negatively affecting women and was very vocal in the call for an end to colonial rule. To top all this up, she was the first Nigerian woman to drive a car. Yes, Funmilayo was the “It girl.”
2. Yaa Asantewaa (1863-1923) — also known as Queen Mother of the Ejisuhene
Beyond being queen mother of the Asante people, Yaa was a badass woman. What do you think you’ll be doing at 60? As for Yaa, she was leading the famous Asante uprising in 1900 against the British. It had been a long fight against the Brish troops. They had taken over their gold mines and were after something dearly important. The British troops were in search of what the Asante people called the Golden Stool, a symbol of their independence. The troops went village to village in search of it and left destruction down every part they crossed. The last straw for Yaa was the attack on a village with defenseless children. After the attack, the council of elders was summoned and as queen mother, Yaa was present.
Now here’s the badass part.
At the meeting, the men were afraid of retaliation. The British troops were well-armed and ready to kill anyone. For Yaa, that wasn’t a factor. She told the men to stay back and asked only the women to fight. In March 1900, Yaa mobilised Asante troops, and for three months laid siege to the British mission at the fort of Kumasi. In the end, the British troops overpowered the Asante troops. Yaa was captured and remained in exile for 20 years. The Asante protectorate did not receive independence until 1957 — 36 years after Yaa’s death. She might have lost the battle in 1900, but Yaa’s revolutionary act accounted for the fight to in Ghana. That’s why till today, she’s called “Keeper of the Golden Stool.” A queen we stan!
3. Miriam Makeba (1932-2008)
Feel free to call her mama Africa like the rest of us — yes, I’m claiming to be South African. Makeeba was a civil rights activist and singer. With growing up in a segregated town outside Johannesburg, Makeba was no stranger to the struggles in South Africa. She was a singer that used her songs to speak up against apartheid. When she travelled to the UK in 1959, to star in Come Back, Africa — a movie on apartheid. The role led her to the US, where she carried on her activism through music. Clearly, the South African government felt threatened. In 1960 our girl was banned from reentering the country. Even her passport was also revoked in 1963. Yet, Makeba was unmoved. She released even more revolutionary music. With popular songs like Pata Pata and grammy-winning album, An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba
4. Huda Shaarawi (1879–1947)
I know the title said it, but if you’re a feminist and you don’t know Huda, please, step down from your pedestal today. If Huda wasn’t pushing the rights of women as a feminist then, she was advocating for better governance in across the Arab world. Huda was a pioneering feminist leader and established the Egyptian Feminist Union in 1923. Essentially, she was letting the people know women were here to take over. She is one of the many women that fought hard to see Egyptian women living as the gorgeous gorgeous girls they are.
5. Mariama Bâ (1929–1981)
If you are a lover of books, this is the babe for you. Born and raised as a Muslim woman in Dakar, Bâ was very opinionated on the rights of women in Senegal. She was particularly opposed to the custom of polygamous marriages and was keen on the empowerment of women. Her frustrations were voiced out in her first novel, Une si longue lettre (So long a letter). Bâ ’s other literary works such as Scarlet Song and La Fonction politique des littératures africaines écrites also speaks to the role of women in building Africa. Get you a Bâ today.
Just look at that fro. This is a woman that knew how to fight. Literally. Rose was one of the first female Chadian soldiers. She strongly opposed Hissen Habré, a Chadian politician convicted for war crimes. In 1982, Rose fought against the dictatorship in Chad. Sadly, she was imprisoned in 1984 and tortured for eight months. Within that time, Rose was able to record and smuggle out the names of prisoners. Although she was executed for this act on May 15th, 1986, she’ll never be forgotten.
CONTINUE READING: 17 Things You’ll Relate to if You Grew Up in Ibadan