The women whose photographs and biographies are profiled represent over five decades of feminist activism. Their stories bear witness to a legacy of African feminist thought and resistance which is rarely documented in accounts of African history; feminists who contributed to Africa’s liberation struggles, feminist Members of Parliament who have stood up for political ethics and human rights, feminist lawyers who have advocated for the revision of biased colonial-era laws, feminists who have intervened during armed conflict to protect the rights of civilians, feminists who are challenging religious fundamentalisms, feminists who are leading the response to HIV/ AIDS, feminist artists who are creating new cultural expressions. These African feminist activists come from all regions of the continent, and a spectrum of professions and experiences. Many of the women speak of the mothers or grandmothers as their first role models, pointing to a long tradition of African women’s activism. All women are proudly African, uncompromisingly feminist, and committed to the collective work of transforming African societies for the better.
In the AFF we embrace the concept of herstory as a way to rectify the absence of women and their contribution to our memory of historic turning points. Recording African women’s struggles and achievements in the struggle for their (and their communities’) liberation is one of the critical projects of African Feminism . The birth of the African Feminist Ancestors Project is based on the commitment to ground our activism, movement-building and strategies on lessons and inspirations of how African women in the past have negotiated power, challenged patriarchal notions of womanhood and also women’s roles within society.
In this effort we profile African feminists who have played a critical leadership role in Africa. In profiling these feminist ancestors, we hope to explore how these women have challenged power relations within African society, to make visible feminist participation in African anti-colonial struggles, in projects of national liberation, and to address the absence of literature on African women in advancing social justice.