“I come in peace, but I mean business…” Janelle Monae, R&B Singer
On the 8th of March International Women’s Day is celebrated, while the month of March is likewise dotted with activities related to women in all areas of society. March therefore is meant to recognize and encourage women without losing sight of the advocacy still required to ensure women’s rights and opportunities. For the African woman, we are rising in the sciences and sports, technology and maritime, engineering and law, arts and agriculture, math and aviation and more. However, the numbers are still slim and the journey to head of state or head of corporation, continue to be filled with challenges and obstacles that must be removed.
From my perspective, International Women’s Day is a day of reflection and resilience for women and men who are committed to a fair and just society which values all humans. But allow me to defer to the words of the artists who say it best. Bob Marley reassured and comforted us with, “No woman no cry…” while R&B singer Janelle Monae declares unapologetically, “I come in peace, but I mean business…”. But it is the iconic Maya Angelou, poet and activist, who gave us Still I Rise, written over forty years ago and still powerful today.
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
Dr. Desta Meghoo is a Jamaican born
Creative Consultant, Curator and cultural promoter based in Ethiopia since 2005. She also serves as Liaison to the AU for the Ghana based, Diaspora African Forum.