Crossing the line at the African Feminist Forum

Commonwealth Munyonyo, Kampala was this year graced with the presence of at least 150 African women feminists who got together to continue with the feminist revolution. Throughout the 4 days women from at least 29 African countries planned, spoke, sang, danced and shared stories and thoughts from across Africa. The purpose of the AFF this year was to assess progress made on the commitments made at the AFF in 2006. It was also to mobilize efforts at national levels and develop best methodologies to implement the Charter of feminist principles of African feminists. There was a need to develop conceptual clarity, and to assess our relationship as feminists with contemporary African States and state structures. A need to re-politicize the movement and harness female knowledge dominated the agenda at the AFF. After identifying feminist institutions, the forum felt that there was a need to develop feminist leadership and mentor young feminists and replenish our ranks. The protection of the integrity of the feminist space was a need that was thoroughly discussed and the need for us to take care of ourselves.

The main highlights of the conference for me were the “Great debate.” All the participants were supposed to choose a side and the controversial topic was: “Can men be feminists and involved in the African feminist movement?” It’s surely a topic or issue that all of us would like to engage in conversation on. On the third day of the conference there was a court session “Feminists put on trial.” A lot of lessons were learnt here and a lot of self reflections were discussed. The main aim was to put on the table all allegations and incompetence of the feminist forum and feminists in general before a judge and jury and then deliberate on the failures and achievements. The jury then gave a ruling on the issues presented. Interestingly enough, out of the 6 allegations that the feminist were put through they were found guilty on 4 accounts and not guilty on 2. This just goes to show that the feminist movement still has a long way to go and a struggle ahead of them.