Thursday, December 13, 2018

VETTE’S VEGAS VOICE: Honoring Her-story

March 18, 2018 by  
Filed under Highlights

Yvette Williams

BY YVETTE WILLIAMS

During Women’s History Month, let’s pay homage to the woman who gave birth to humankind: a Black African from Tanzania. In 1959, paleontologists in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania unearthed the skull of a human-like being, dating back 1.75 million years. In the same location, a small woman was discovered in 1974 — dating back 3.5 million years. Known as Lucy, this young African woman may be the mother of all humankind.

The blockbuster “Black Panther” is driving renewed interest in black culture — and in particular, the roles of powerful women. Throughout history, we have taken the burdens of our community on our shoulders. Women in ancient Africa held many powerful positions: they ran governments and leveraged political power, served as powerful spiritual leaders, won strategic battles and trained as warriors, and were the economic powerhouses of the nation by setting the rules of trade, organizing and managing the market system.

Let’s celebrate the greatness and tell herstory of such legends as Ana de Sousa Nzinga, born in 1581 in the kingdom of Ndongo — a land ruled by leaders called Ngolas. At the time, the Portuguese were advancing toward Ndongo and looking to kidnap her countrymen. After the betrayal of a negotiated peace treaty, she led her warriors — many of them women — in a 30-year fight for her homeland. She returned blood for blood and slaughter for slaughter, all to save her people from the slave trade. She died at the age of 84 in exile after losing the war, but she is still remembered as the woman who lost many battles but never lost the war. Ana de Sousa Nzinga lived a queen and died a queen.

Or think about the several female Pharaohs: 18-year-old Hatshepsut — who ruled Egypt from 1479-1457 B.C. and led her nation into greater prosperity. Amina of Zaria, who became a great ruler and warrior of Hausa (now Nigeria) around 1576, reigned for more than 30 years and built a prosperous empire. The Amazon Queen Tata Ajache of Dahomey would rise from a servant to become a queen and lead the elite female fighting force feared around the world.

These are only a few examples. Learning about our ancestors is essential for honoring the past, understanding who we are as women of African descent, and restoring us to our dignified place in the annals of world history. So while we watch “Black Panther” for the third or fourth time, let us celebrate that finally the rest of the world can see us as we see ourselves: S/HEROES.

Yvette Williams is a community advocate and Chair/Founder of the Clark County Black Caucus, a non-partisan community organization driven 100% by volunteer members registered to vote. Follow her blog at www.YvetteBWilliams.com and on twitter @YvetteBWilliams or contact her at ClarkCountyBlackCaucus@gmail.com for more information.

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