April 4, 2022

Practicing our Feminism as African women and gender expansive persons.

Three years spent at arm’s length due to a global pandemic came to a wonderful end at the 9th convention of the Uganda Feminist Forum. Somewhere in Namanve on the outskirts of Kampala, a room was alive with shared joys, struggles and experiences of practicing feminism in Uganda, and largely, Africa. Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) graciously hosted the hybrid event from the 28th of Feb to the 2nd of March 2022. For three days, Ugandan feminists and feminist siblings from Nigeria and Ethiopia reunited both physically and virtually to bask in the joy of a revolutionary siblinghood. The gathering created space to reflect on the progress of the movement and to reimagine a feminist utopia together. In a serene environment, our bodies and mind were ignited with centering rituals and meditation. At a time when feminism both in practice and theory has largely been influenced by colonization, African women in all their diversities are boldly advocating for the decolonization of the feminist movement. It was pivotal therefore to convene and engage in conversations that are audacious enough to question the status quo, reimagine a feminist Uganda and commit to practicing feminism in a way that is true to our context and identity. 

We were reminded by Jessica Horn that indeed as African women and gender-expansive persons, our personas can be characterized as warriors, wounded and healers. She unmasked these three characters in her keynote address and reminded us that even though often the warrior manifests the most given the racist patriarchal capitalist misogynistic context we engage with daily, we are ultimately healers.  Our institutional and decolonization approaches were challenged by Prof. Sylvia Tamale who encouraged us to think beyond western strategies and approaches to our oppression and dehumanization. She encouraged us to look at our indigenous knowledge and practices as legitimate ways of existence that can provide a blueprint for building our movements and society.

By the third day, there was a harmonious discourse on a few urgent needs for the community. We admitted that there was a need to place accountability at the heart of our institutions and the need to be radical with self-care as well as advocate for its institutionalization taking a leaf from the Ugandan activists working towards limiting the spread of HIV/AIDS. We discussed the importance of having solidarity that extends beyond the borders of Uganda to include feminist siblings in other African countries. We understood our commitments as political and the need to buttress our feminist politics with knowledge and resources. Our discourse was guided through an intersectional and intergenerational presence in the room. Lived experiences of persons with disabilities, sex workers, grassroots organizers, lesbians, bisexuals, trans, gender-expansive persons and young persons informed the feminist praxis we imagined and discussed. 

Indeed, the Uganda Feminist Forum enabled us to recognize the importance of the UFF’s 9th gathering to the African Feminist Forum at large. We reflected on what was, what is, and what is through the invocation of our holy book – the charter of feminist principles for African feminists. We looked into the imagination of previous feminist crusaders through the mural drawn at the 2010 gathering and reflected on what point we were on the road to realizing their dreams and what we need to arrive at this utopia. We launched ourselves into the new feminist future that we dared to visualize together. We spoke about it, drew it and now we carry it in our hearts, living it, every day. 

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