Burj – Al Arab Hotel, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 31st March 2012.
On this occasion of the Awards Dinner of the International Conference on African Women Development, holding in Dubai UAE, we should, perhaps, start from the beginning.
So let me begin
I am a woman; and I am an African Woman
I owe my being here today to the long and difficult road taken by Amazons of the past, women leaders of old who refused to be bowed down, who refused too let go, who continued to fight that women be given a voice in society and an opportunity to contribute to the conversations in society.
From oppressions of not having a voice, they fought. From oppressions of rape, incest and racism; they have trudged on. For in time past, the African Woman could not speak, even though the issues affected her children and her society; yet she was the one that nurtured life in her womb; she was the one that toiled to feed the family and her society; her strong arms have farmed and fed others even when she has not eaten.
It did not matter how much a woman was intelligent; it did not matter how hard she toiled to feed the family. It did not matter that she was the pillar that kept society in peace and order though years of training and raising little ones into adult; the African Woman was continually an object of oppression, suppression and victimization.
But the story started changing, because women began to prove that we be trusted. For women began to take the roles of men, while their men went out to war during the world war 1 & 2 and society fared better as a result. And through the efforts and sacrifices of our mothers, the women movement was born, and women began to have the right to vote, the right to work and the right to an existence as partners in the human race, even though not equal partners yet. Women like mother Theresa, have shown that through kindness they could change societies.
And from those ugly days, African women have continued to rise. For like the United States Arkansas based Peot, Maya Angelon” wrote:
You may write me down in history
With bitter twisted lies
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise
Like the poem, African Women have continued to rise. For we have risen above the petty and have shaped our destinies. We have rise from oppressed wives at home to leaders in the corporate world. We have risen from the shackles of voicelessness in the society to heads of regions and nations and saviours of humanity. Women have earned their place at the top and have proven to be that required catalyst for Africa’s socio-economic development in this emerging decade; therefore they need to be trusted with more.
From standing on the shoulders of giants of old, amazon that fought and conquered, we are here today. That is why we celebrate, for even though we are not where we want to be, we are liberated, we are redefining ourselves and we are moving forward.
That is why we are gathered here today. For we are here to celebrate some of Africa’s finest women leaders, who in the face of adversity, darkness and cut-throat competition from their male folks have continued to shine the light in our dark world. With their time, meager resources and their voices, they have shown leadership, courage, sacrifice and commitment in making our world a better place. They have become role models and an inspiration to present and future generations of African women; for they are brining true change and development to Africa. They are the African Renaissance.
And to you all, our Distinguished Awardees tonight, I say Congratulations!
Never give up, Never let down, never stop to show leadership until the dawning of that day all of our women are empowered and are contributing in the new era.
To you, our Distinguished guests and participants, thank you for supporting and celebrating these ICONS, thank you for coming, for because of you, there is hope for our rising continent.
Thank you for listening and God bless you all.