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Africana womanism

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I have been living in China for a little over 3 years now. The events that led me to leave South Africa, work in DR Congo and then pursue a degree here are perhaps the same reasons why I have started this blog. Self discovery, self expression and the desire to make a change in myself and also within society.

 

I came upon the term ‘Africana Womanism‘ some time ago and it resonated with me. Wikipedia states that it ‘is a term coined in the late 1980s by Clenora Hudson-Weems intended as an ideology applicable to all women of African descent. It is grounded in African culture and Afrocentrism and focuses on the experiences, struggles, needs, and desires of Africana women of the African diaspora’. My personal belief is that is it the solution to a lot of problems in Africa.

 

Feminism is not a term that I believe black people of African descent should subscribe to. The foundation on which it rests does not fall in line with our culture. It is, has always been and will always be largely to the benefit of white people. Unlike Africana womanism, white feminists see men as their enemy because historically their counterparts subjucated them to the position of property. African men have never had the power to oppress black women in the same way. Secondly, Africana Womanism adresses both racist and sexist ideology, something that feminism does not.

 

It is very important that as Africans, we remember who we are and where we come from. For those of us who have the opportunity to leave home, we must not allow ourselves to be deluded into fighting for others when our own problems still need to be addressed. There is a difference between acculturation and assimilation.

 

There are 18 key components of African Womanism, which are then grouped into three characteristics:

Group A)

  • Self-naming
  • Self-definition

 

Group B)

  • Family-centeredness
  • Wholeness
  • Authenticity
  • Role flexibility
  • Adaptability
  • Struggling with Black men against oppression
  • Black female sisterhood

 

Group C)

  • Strength
  • Male compatibility
  • Respect
  • Recognition
  • Respect for elders
  • Ambition
  • Mothering
  • Nurturing
  • Spirituality

 

My aim is to cover these characteristics, discuss their relevance in our current climate and communicate with readers (and writers:)) who have similar interests. There are many other issues and components that will be touched on and hopefully my blog can start a conversation.

 

To conclude, I suggest that you take a look at a YouTube video posted by Bowdoin College, titled ‘Clenora Hudson-Weems: “Africana Womanism”‘. It is very informative and she does a very good job of putting everything into context.

 

 

 

 

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Identify yourself

Identity: the distinguishing character or personality of an individualsilhouette-3087521__340

 

Who are you? Where do you come from? What are your roots?

Category A of Africana Womanism (my previous post) deals with the concept of identity. It is important for us to self identify in order to avoid getting swept up or trampled on. To ignore the power of identity is to lie to ourselves and give way to mannerisms, ideologies and group think that only serve the white mans purpose.

 

It is not enough to say ‘I know who I am’. We must be so sure of our identity and so proud of ourselves as a unit that we not only make it clear who we are, but we correct those that misidentify us. This includes but is not limited to our names, our skin color, our culture and our gender. The only real thing that we should be ashamed of as black Africans, is our willingness to whitewash ourselves and seperate ourselves from our continent. When I see non-black people profiting from African music, African food and African bodies, essentially misappropriating our culture, it irritates me. Mostly because our desire to self identify as Africans seems to only occur when white culture gives us permission. I feel that there is not enough self love in our communities and hope that we move in a direction where there is an abandunce of it.

 

Practicising self naming and self definition as black Africans can help us discover our identity through our own experiences and points of view. Without mincing words, this makes life as a black person, a whole lot easier. It is better to know your allies, opponents, advantages and disadvantages upfront and this is only possible by presenting a clear, accurate picture of who you are wherever you go.

 

Africana womanism focuses on ethnicity. It allows for the distinction of individual self-identification, dependening on the individual’s cultural background. Western culture advocates Eurocentric beliefs rather than Afrocentric beliefs and this is problematic. We must consider that we have our own unique, situational experiences. This pespective gives way to a mechanism of self-identification that can ease the burden of everyday life under socially, economically, religiously, and culturally limiting structures.

 

It took me the longest time to disassociate mysself from being a ‘coconut’ to being clear and vocal that although I enjoy western culture, I still identify with my blackness. I wake up in this skin, live my life in this skin and go to bed in it. This is something I feel many people struggle to understand and this is again, due to lack on communication within our communities. Thankfully, there are more platforms discussing this and our future generations will have a better idea about how to navigate the world while living their truth.