In preparation for Africa Day on May 25, a group of human rights activists is promoting a pledge in which Africans resolve to work toward social and economic justice in the continent, including an end to violence against women and sexual minorities.
So far, the document, called the Mayibuye Pledge, has been signed by 187 people, including LGBT rights activists Victor Mukasa and Clare Byarugaba of Uganda and Phumzile Mtetwa of South Africa. Supporters of the pledge have also set up a Facebook page, which has 925 “likes.”
The sponsors explained:
Initially spurred by the violent laws enacted in Nigeria and Uganda against Africans who are non-conforming in terms of their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression and African women, we put this statement together to mobilise and re-engage ourselves and others around a platform to reimagine and transform Africa in the tradition of our liberation struggles and spirit of our ancestors.
We use the title Mayibuye iAfrica – a slogan from the liberation struggle in Southern Africa meaning ‘bring back Africa’ – to call for self-determination, diversity and justice and a return to our traditions of resistance. We hope you will join us.
Africans who want to sign the pledge online can visit the MayibuyePledge.org website. In addition, supporters of the pledge recently set up a Twitter account, @MayibuyePledge, which is followed by 39 Twitter users. It urges, “Recommit yourself to working actively for an Africa free from oppression.”
Activist Kenyan publisher/journalist Denis Nzioka tweeted, “Amidst everything, Africans all over are taking the Mayibuye Pledge. Have you?”
Human Rights Watch researcher Neela Ghoshal in Kenya tweeted, “African social justice warriors: take the #Mayibuye pledge!”
The pledge is designed to coincide with Africa Day, the annual commemoration of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on May 25, 1963.
The pledge is available in Kiswahili, Yoruba, Shona, Arabic, Portuguese, French and English, with a Wolof version in the works, organizers say. [This blog is seeking links to each of those versions.]
This is the English version:
On this African liberation day, we, the undersigned, note with grave concern the continent-wide deepening crisis including, growing militarism, the crisis in democracy, an expanding neoliberal economic order, deepening patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism, amongst others.
We especially note the worsening social and economic conditions of those who have been dispossessed of dignity and autonomy over their lives, bodies, lands and natural resources, and denied rights to access shelter, food, water, education & healthcare.
We call the attention of all freedom loving people across the Continent and around the globe, to the pervasive and debilitating violence faced by those who are pushed to the margins because of divisive and unjust laws and policies, and poor practices by our own governments, who do not respond to their people but to financial interests. We condemn and resist attempts to homogenise Africa‘s multiple legacies into legalised hatred and discrimination.
We rise up and come together as Africans globally, working for a continent where self-determination, as well as physical, emotional, social and economic well being are guaranteed to all. We come together to condemn and resist all forms of violence and militarism, including inter-community and state sponsored violence such as is currently rife in the Central African Republic and Kenya; systemic violence against Africans based on their actual or assumed sexual orientation and gender identity, as in Nigeria and Uganda; and endemic violence against women, girls and gender non-conforming persons, as witnessed in the abductions of girls and lack of adequate response in Nigeria.
We remind ourselves of the critical contributions that Africans have made across history in defining and defending principles of justice, solidarity, liberation and diversity. We salute all Africans who speak and have spoken in defence of these principles.
We stand for a return to Africa in every respect:
- Re-imagining our lives outside neo-colonial power.
- Breaking free from the structures, systems and individuals who disappear our history and traditions of democratic principles and respect for humanity, and who erase our cultures of agency, resistance, creativity and people power.
- Reclaiming and upholding the rich legacies and cultural norms of collectivity, freedom, self-determination and ubuntu.
- Taking individual and collective responsibility to fight globally and locally against the impoverishment and dispossession of the majority of African people.
- Fighting for an end to violence and militarisation that destroys and harms us all.
- Fighting for an end to the greed and oppressive power responsible for the destruction of our lands and the Earth.
We recognise, affirm and insist that Africa needs:
- Economic and environmental justice to claim and redistribute power, to redistribute land and put our vast resources to the benefit of our people and the healing of mother Earth.
- To eradicate militarism and all forms of violence, including the violence of oppressive laws and of poverty.
- Racial and ethnic justice.
- The transformation of the politics of sex, sexuality and gender, the rightful access to affirming and responsive institutions and services, and the restoration of spaces free of fundamentalisms in order to practice our religions and participate in our cultures.
Africa needs Africans who are imagining and building a future of freedom. We believe that Africans, in our multiplicity, have the potential to transform the world.
We, the undersigned, recommit ourselves to working actively for the Africa we want.