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Feminists We Love: Professor Amina Mama

Re-published from ©Feminist Wire

Written by Hakima Abass

Professor Amina Mama is Nigerian-British feminist intellectual who has worked for over two decades in research, teaching, organizational change and organizing, and editing in Nigeria, Britain, The Netherlands, South Africa and the USA. She spent a decade at the University of Cape Town’s African Gender Institute where she led the collaborative development of feminist studies and research for African contexts. Author and editor of a range of books and articles on state feminism, militarism, colonialism, feminist methodologies grounded in African contexts, Amina currently earns her living as a professor of Women and Gender Studies at the University of California. She pursues longstanding interests in radical knowledge production and dissemination through research and teaching, as founding editor of the open access gender studies journal Feminist Africa, and most recently by working in collaboration with Director/Producer Yaba Badoe on the production of two documentary films: The Witches of Gambaga (2011) and The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo (2014).

I first met Professor Amina Mama at the African Feminist Forum in Uganda in 2008.  I had read her early book Beyond the Masks: Race, Gender and Subjectivity as well as several of her publications on African feminist thought and practice.  In Uganda she spoke about the paradox of Africa’s decreasing civil wars and increasing militarism in the context of globalized neoliberal oppression and imperialism.  What struck me about Professor Mama’s approach was her insistence on sabotaging the false separation between African feminist thought and activism.  Over the last months, I have had the pleasure of working with her on two upcoming editions of the journal Feminist Africa, dedicated to the theme ‘feminism and pan-Africanism’.  The editions pose the question: what can a genuinely radical pan-African engagement contribute to the transformation of multiple systemic oppressions, including gendered oppressions, that continue to sustain the under-development of the resource-rich African continent?


Knowledge, Peace, Prosperity and Equality: Reflections on the Inauguration of the Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library

By Elias Bongmba 
Harry and Hazel Chair in Christian Theology and Professor of Religion
Rice University


Toyin Falola
University Distinguished Teaching Professor
Jacob and Frances Mossiker Chair in the Humanities
University of Texas at Austin
The Julius Nyerere Chair of Modern African History-At-Large, Benue State University, Nigeria

We were privileged, on September 16-17, 2014, to join former South African president. Mr. Thabo Mbeki, The Thabo Mbeki Foundation, and the University of South Africa (UNISA) at a colloquium titled “The Power of Memory in Shaping Humanity,” and the launching of The Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library (TMPL) on the elegant campus of UNISA. The goal of the TMPL is to serve as a living library, a center for the production of knowledge, and the promotion of peace building, prosperity, and equality to transform the entire African continent. 

Parables from Wangari Maathai's Trees, by Wole Soyinka

Presented at the Storymoja Literary Festival in Nairobi, Kenya- September, 2014

Republished with permission

Trees bring out the whimsical in a variety of human sensibilities. Also the lyrical, the rapturous, or the simply reassuring, as in family belonging. Lately however, that is, in the past decade or two, trees have attained apocalyptic dimensions – sitting in judgment over humanity – will the proceeding end in a reprieve, or a death sentence on the planet itself? No wonder I have also been lately struck by the fact that, even without their newly conferred powers, trees have played an intimate, even dynamic role in the evolution of human culture – and history – especially on this continent. To go all the way back to beginnings, it would not be out of place to speculate that it was under one such an accommodating canopy of boughs that our great forebears underwent the earliest formulation of community. That seems quite plausible, even inevitable, since trees offer not only land bearings, but shelter against the sun. This primordial subconscious, I propose, is why we are hardly ever content to let a tree be - a tree - just a tree in itself and for itself, a replete presence in its own right. Apart from obvious utilitarian ends that the tree offers - shade, protection, food, material convertibility etc etc., we even impose on it the burden of reference points, metaphors, ethical abstractions and injunctions in forms of proverbs, analogies, celebrate the tree in reams and reams of poetry, entrenching it in social consciousness through the painterly arts and numerous other forms of cooption to the ends of aesthetics and iconography.

Letter to the New York Times: The Ebola Epidemic in West Africa

Written by Meredeth Turshen

Professor Turshen is a Professor in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. Her research interests include international health, particularly African women's health, and she specializes in public health policy. A second interest is in the impact of war on women. Meredeth Turshen is the author of  "Privatizing Health Services in Africa" Rutgers University Press, 1999.

29 August 2014
Submitted to the New York Times

To the Editor:

This Ebola epidemic follows the route of the second Liberian war—from Guinea into Liberia into Sierra Leone. The NYT article (“As Ebola Grips Liberia’s Capital, a Quarantine Sows Social Chaos”, 28 August 2014) mentions the war, but not that it destroyed whatever network of rudimentary government health services existed in the 1980s.

The Times article does not mention that health networks were never rebuilt; that the diamond industry, which profited from the wars, was never taxed for funds to rebuild health and education services; that the armaments industry got away with murderous profits and contributed nothing to rebuilding these nations. The Times article does not discuss the opportunism of the private sector, including NGOs and the churches, to use every crisis (the wars, AIDS, Ebola) to undermine government welfare programs and set up private health services in their stead.

The private initiatives underway now are the least efficient ways to procure supplies, the most profitable to pharmaceutical and medical supply companies, and the surest way to guarantee that nothing will have changed after the epidemic recedes. The supplies people are sending from the US are purchased at retail prices instead of ordering in bulk through international tenders for lowest bids. Many of these supplies are for single use and will be discarded. No permanent trace of the goodwill efforts will remain.

Since the 1980s, WTO and World Bank policies of globalizing neoliberalism have destroyed nascent drug industries in African countries. Of 46 sub-Saharan countries, 37 have “pharmaceutical industries,” that is, 34 have secondary level production (formulation of pills using imported pharmaceutical ingredients), and 25 have the ability to repackage imports. Only South Africa has limited primary production. Nine countries have no production capacity. These troubling facts should be part of the national conversation on how to strengthen basic health care in Africa.

Meredeth Turshen, D.Phil.
E.J. Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy
Rutgers University
33 Livingston Avenue, Suite 500
New Brunswick, NJ 08901 USA
Office phone: 848-932-2386
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Watch Rachel Boynton's "Big Men" on PBS

Filmmaker Statement

Republished from


The world of international oil deals is not an easy one to enter with a camera. And I knew no one in the oil business — or in Africa — when I began this film. I started with a pen, a notebook, an idea and a plane ticket to Lagos, Nigeria. But I took the attitude that I could get to anyone if I was careful and patient enough. In the end, I spent almost two years traveling back and forth between West Africa and New York, getting all the necessary permissions to shoot before I ever picked up a camera.

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