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Saturday, February 19, 2011

The great African housewife

African woman making jewelryFrom this exciting, spiritually-connected gathering: a great dance, party, food, and robust conversations at an invigorating meeting. It’s so exciting that I keep smiling to myself remembering the energy in the room, the sisterhood, the fact that as women race, colour, region, affinity, language never matter. For us it was about how to make a difference and truly redefine “Democracy”. As I transit in Texas, my realities hit again and I leave dreamland. Quite an interesting and long story including lost luggage, partial detention, and also being asked in Houston by customs officials why I am "camouflaging as a professional" yet I am an "African Housewife"? And, as an "African Housewife", where I got all these visas in my passport, why I travel frequently and where I got money to travel to Guatemala? How did I get invited to a Nobel Women’s Peace Prize event in Guatemala?!

For him it’s because I had tied a black and red head piece on my head (yet I tied it to protect my hair from drying due to cabin air in this long journey or just to look sexy the way I define it)! I was so outraged with this that I asked him to substantiate his assertion, and also why he has the right to define my identity and undermine the sovereignty of the Government of Uganda who issued me a passport that best defined me, and why for him it’s bad to be an African housewife.
So he asked me what my African man/husband does for a living. I became equally outraged and sarcastically asserted that “He cleans all the toilets in Harare Town and please sir, I wish to advise you that African women are not pregnant, barefoot and poor all the time. The media in your countries should tell you the whole story and the reality of life in Africa, where we may be poor but African peoples have higher happiness indicators and lower stress levels than the vast population of the world...”. You must now imagine what that meant and what happened next… partial detention and interrogation of this “intelligent housewife”.
In the interrogation, I kept remembering the sisters that were refused entry and how many of us, as participants, couldn’t make it to Guatemala or faced similar situations. How many had a hard time coming and going, and how it’s increasingly hard to organize - at a time when we need it most as women of the world. My mind kept wondering why for these people, they think there is no innovation, or intellegencia, or any great things in Africa, and that all African women are housewives and being a housewife is bad. Do they know how much unpaid labour women put into being housewives and how many housewives sustain Africa today and have done so since time immemorial, after everyone has plundered us of the strong energetic men and women during the slave trade, colonialism, mining and neo-colonialism and now the same happens in Iraq /Afghanistan/ Iran/ Sudan/ DRC, just name it? Or do they even know that our labour as housewives of the world is never recognized and remunerated?
This has renewed my love for women of the world, the ordinary women who sustain this world and keep the engine moving, and for Africa, my zeal to really make a difference and the fact that we must invest all the resources in the revolution to change the lives of women! No one will fund the revolution in Africa, as Africans we must do it….
And also the fact that as women we suffer these whole discussions about democracy, organizing internationally as women for peace and justice. How do we even talk about peace and justice when issues such as citizenship, right to movement, acceptability, race and class still abound? We must go back to the basics... yes, the basics that even Housewives like me get invited to speak at Nobel Peace Prize Women’s Events.
So, now I proudly wear a badge as a “Great African Housewife”!

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