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Feminism in Pan Africanism?

I am at a colloquium at the United Nations Economic Commission of Africa (UNECA), where we are celebrating the life of a famous Pan Africanist called Dr. Tajuheed Abdulrahim. He died on this day (25/05/2009) three years ago. What makes him important and drew my attention to write was the fact that while speaking about his life, his close friend of his mentioned that Taju as they called him, was very keen on womens' issues. Apparently, he is famous for having have said that it is wrong a woman should lose her life while giving life. Indeed he must have been very aware of womens' plight in his community. Another spectacular thing I learned was that Pan Africanism didn't quite start off with a 'feminist component'. Acknowledging this fact, Taju lived his entire life fighting for women's issues in his country and would not pass without saying a word/ inciting action or to wherever he went if he found out that women were suffering. Saying goes a long way in continents like Africa where silencing and not speaking about select issues is common practice. I know of societies in remote south west Ethiopia where women are actually let to deliver babies on their own, and this is seen as a normal thing. Of course custom plays a great role in African contexts so that a person who questions is seen as a person without respect for tradition and customs. However, people like Taju used their influence to speak out against social ills and the exclusion of women across Africa in all of his journeys. I studied Pan Africanism in my undergrad studies and not once did I notice that all of the pioneer names raised were mostly of men. This has been a thought provoking encounter, since I will revisit Pan Africanism and seek that female involvement which I believe was paramount and it is important to impart that message to the youth of Africa for the primary purpose of bestowing responsibility towards this continent. Africa may have 6 of the world's countries with the fastest growing rates, but there is still so much work to be done especially with respect to womens' issues and most importantly health care. Taju's celebration sparked a new sense of obligation in my life, and made me realize something I would have otherwise not.

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