7 African Women that my Daughters need to know about
Today is International Women’s Day and I want to celebrate some of the most famous and inspiring icons of Africa!
Today is International Women’s Day and I want to celebrate some of the most famous and inspiring icons of Africa.
–1. Winnie Mandela
They say ‘behind every great man lies a great woman’, but when we remember the contributions of Nelson Mandela, do we remember his first wife Winnie?
Winnie is an activist, philanthropist and a recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. She is most known for her leadership during the anti-apartheid campaign while her husband was in prison; she was also detained in solitary confinement by the South African government due to her political views. Although she has been criticized for foul play (kidnapping and murder), she still remains an important force in fighting against one of the most important periods in history.2. Miriam Makeba
Also known as Mama Africa, Miriam Makeba was a Grammy award winning singer and songwriter that introduced traditional South African music to the Western World. Apart from her musical talents, she was another prominent figure during South Africa’s apartheid regime, as well as the civil rights movements in America.3. Fumilayo Ransom Kuti
I’m sure many of you are familiar with Fela Anikulapo Kuti, aka the father of Afrobeat music (not Afrobeats) and a known shit starter for the Nigerian government. But how many of you are aware of the role his mother played in shaping his music, political views and activism? How many know that some of his best and deepest songs were made after the government sent military personnel to throw his mother from a third floor window of his home?
Fumilayo was a woman nationalist, and her feminism/ democratic socialism led to organisations and movements that promoted women’s rights to education, employment and political participation. Following the influences of their mother, her sons became powerful forces of opposition during an era of political struggle in Nigeria. She serves as another prime example of ‘behind every great man is a great woman’.
4. Folorunsho Alakija
Folorunsho Alakija is a business woman involved with fashion, oil and printing industries in Nigeria and America. She is one of the richest black/ African women in the world and was listed the 87th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2015. Aside from her business endeavours, she is also the founder of the Rose of Sharon Foundation that empowers widows and orphans through scholarships and business grants. She’s basically #lifegoalsaf5. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the 24th and current President of Liberia, as well as the first elected female head of state in Africa. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for supporting for women’s rights and full participation in peace-building work.6. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I remember when Chimamanda came into the scene, and everyone was like “so is your name short for Chimamanda?” No, not necessarily, but she made me wish it was.
Chimamanda is an award winning novelist, poet and short story writer. She is one of the most famous and recognized African author of our time, oh and she’s definitely a proud feminist. Now I say this because to be a feminist in Nigeria is one of those things that’s usually followed by hissing and sighing from both the young and old of your community. However, Chimamanda has never been afraid to bring life to the title, and she serves as an inspiration for women around the world.
Remember the female voice behind that fire verse in Beyonce’s ‘ Flawless’….
We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller
We say to girls: “You can have ambition, but not too much
You should aim to be successful, but not too successful
Otherwise, you will threaten the man”
Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage
I am expected to make my life choices
Always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important
Now, marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support
But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage
And we don’t teach boys the same?
We raise girls to see each other as competitors
Not for jobs or for accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing
But for the attention of men
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are
Feminist: a person who believes in the social
Political, and economic equality of the sexes
If you didn’t know that was her, now you know!7. Lupita Nyong’o
Lupita’s rise to fame came in 2014 for her role in the film 12 years a slave that landed her an Oscar. Since then, she has become a familiar face all over the media and on the covers of several magazines. In 2014, she was named ‘The Most Beautiful Woman’ by People, ‘Woman of the Year’ by Glamour and she became the first black woman to appear on the Lancôme brand. I see her as a personal inspiration because she doesn’t have the appearance of the ‘typical black woman’ that Hollywood recognizes, but she’s made her way to the top simply by staying true to her African roots.