I am not quite sure exactly when I started to strongly feel the power of ‘we’. Perhaps it was at the 2nd African Feminist Forum which I attended in Kampala, Uganda in 2008. Or it was in the informal listserve that Hakima Abbas, Minna Salami, Amina Doherty and I seem to have simultaneously borne. Maybe it was in the community of Fab Fems (fabulous feminists) which I co-founded in Accra, Ghana. In all these different spaces I found women who ‘got me’. It wasn’t a ‘long ting’. I didn’t need to spend ages explaining who a feminist was, that feminists don’t hate men and engage in any of those mindless conversations that do nothing but sap my energies. In the feminist world I found community. Women who care for me, women who lovingly challenge me, and urge me to critically reflect. In my community of the feminist ‘we’ I’ve found sisters who push me to think deeper, who urge me to take time for self care and who are almost always at the end of an email, tweet or phonecall.
In my recent tweet up with the popular American blog ‘Racialicious‘ I said one of the best things about being a feminist is that I have a home everywhere. My friend Sheena whom I met at a Women’s Funding Network conference in Atlanta in 2009 freely opened her home in Brooklyn to me when I needed a place to crash in New York. Amina and I met when she asked yet another sister whether she knew the Nana that had been featured in ARISE magazine. And yes, Jessica knew me because we had met in several spaces and bonded during the labour of love she had put into creating ‘Voice, Power and Soul: Portraits of African Feminists’ when I had acted as the AWDF liaison for this AFF initiative. Some of my strong ‘we’ connections have been initiated online – @khanyisile, @MsAfropolitan @spectra speaks with offline interactions only serving to cement the cyber connections.
Sometimes the strength of the ‘we’ that nurtures me is about the power of 2. The abiding friendship between my #BFFFL (best friend for freaking life) and I which has spanned geographical distances, 16 years of not living in the same space, and lifestyle differences – for her raising 4 children, balancing the needs of marriage and carving out space to write and perform a myriad of jobs to support herself and her family – for me balancing a multi-tasking life which includes a full time job, running a fashion business and balancing the extra curricular projects I always seem to take on whilst struggling to remain conscious of the needs of my family and the family I’ve chosen for myself .
More recent (and not so recent) friendships in my life (Anjali, Elvina, Emma, Crystal, Kobby, Seton, Mantse, Wanlov, Panji) has been maintained by a regular and irregular stream of emails, BBMs, skype and physical dates. These are people whom I know get me in all my complexities. Who support me and whose support I can largely rely on .
Technology definitely helps me maintain and grow my circle of ‘we’. I think of those that I consider my ‘Ghana twitter fam’ (@MsMartei @SorayaSpeaks @Elidot) and how they contribute to my knowledge with the tweets they share and the cyber support I sense from them.
I think of those who are in my wider cycle of influence – Fiona, Nyani, Bob, Nana Kofi. I think of my sister with whom I run MAKSI and her collective of friends who have become my own sister friends – Debbie, Sylvia. I think of my brother who at his core is one of the most selfless people I know. My Mum who still wakes up early to make me a packed lunch. My Dad who has always been there for me even though he is perplexed by this daughter of his who tweets EVERYTHING. He constantly teases me saying, ‘Are you going to put that on twitter’. My 75 year old Uncle who accompanies me constantly on my regular 4 hours round trip journey to my farming village. My 90 something year old Grand Aunt who spent days meeting me at places of convenience so I could learn from her powerful oral history. This is the power of ‘we’ in my life. These are the people (and counting) who make me who I am. Thank you for community, friendship and solidarity.
By: Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah