FROM the shadows of colonial brutality emerges a profound aspiration for gender equality, unshackling societies from the iniquities that have haunted them for centuries.
The legacy of Western-imposed gender norms must be dismantled, paving the way for a decoloniality movement that seeks to rejuvenate indigenous gender perspectives and integrate them into planning and programming.
In the aftermath of colonisation, the indomitable force of Western knowledge permeated former colonies, leaving an indelible mark on human relationships through indoctrination and social subjugation. The foreign concepts of race and gender were introduced as tools of domination, creating binary opposites and reinforcing hierarchical social categories that endured through the post-colonial era.
The very concepts of race and gender in Africa were foreign imports, intertwined with the inferiority of native women. Ruthless gender-related violence played a pivotal role in the formation of colonial societies, perpetuating its insidious presence into the post-colonial period. Colonization, an inherently gendered act, normalised the sexual violation of women, perpetuating their subordination in all aspects of life.
The mid-20th-century decolonisation movement prompted a collective awakening to this insidious influence, sparking a quest for liberation from Western paradigms. As the world grapples with diverse racial, ethnic, geographical, and sexual identities, a crucial framework for understanding gender systems has become imperative.
Colonisation imposed hierarchical distinctions to serve the interests of invaders, perpetuating disparities between males and females.
However, Lugone (2014) argues that the Western-centric understanding of feminism obscures the diversity and myriad perspectives that exist globally. Decolonial feminists posit that the Global North continues to dictate knowledge, stifling indigenous systems that predate colonisation.
While political movements like Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance have made strides, areas like culture, psyche, spirit, language, and religion remain colonised. Western knowledge systems weigh heavily on Africa, perpetuating asymmetry rather than empowering dispossessed communities.
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African universities, regrettably, continue to be conduits for the reproduction of colonial ideologies, further entrenching the legacy of colonialism.
The need to decolonise is urgent, and the consequences of post-colonial and post-modernity eras must be addressed. Re-examining prehistoric indigenous knowledge systems is essential, reclaiming pre-existing gender social systems and integrating them with contemporary themes.
Liberation lies in the acknowledgement of diverse perspectives, fostering a world where gender systems are not dictated by the vestiges of colonialism, but shaped by the voices and experiences of all.
Nyawo is a development practitioner.