Faustina Anyanwu is the founder of #DivasOfColour and the editor of C.Hub Magazine. Below is her speech for the recently concluded second edition of the annual event that took place in London on Saturday, March 21st.
Today, I would like to thank God for all His mercies and directions, good health and bringing you all safely. Thank you so much, my dear husband, mentor, spiritual powerhouse and my Executive Director. My daughters, Chelsea, Danielle and Jidechi, my mum , my aunt – Mrs Caroline Osuagwu and everyone whose support has made today possible. And thank you all for finding time out of your busy schedule to be with us today as we celebrate our women.
Divas of colour as you all know is a special day to recognise, reward and celebrate the contributions of women of colour from around the globe. It is a powerful day to empower, inspire, motivate and most importantly discover the best of our women. It is a day to remind us who we are and where we stand in the world.
As a woman, you stand at the centre of the universe and you have the ultimate power to control its turns and moves. You are the mother of mankind. As women, we are the powerhouse of life, the key to family and through you, every society is born.
But it baffles me to know that in this day and age 1 in 3 women will be raped, abused and experience sexual harassment in her lifetime.
It baffles me to know that in this day and age, we’re still talking of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). We still talk about forced marriages. We still talk about child bride, honour killing, sex-selective abortion and so many other horrendous atrocities to degrade the woman.
Yes. We still talk about these things because women have refused to stand up for each other. For their daughters and for our girls . Women have forgotten their primary role which is to protect especially our young ones and to hold our families together in love and gentleness.
This is not a time for me to blame the men. Today, I want to remind us, women, that we have willingly given up our power simply because of material things we want to acquire. Because we have refused to take up our primary role which is to nurture and protect. I ask you, who gave birth to the man who rapes , molest and harass women?
We make excuses. We call ourselves vulnerable. Yes, we’re vulnerable, but , our vulnerability is our strongest power to control the world. Our vulnerability is our strongest tool to lead, to help, to understand, and to mend.
Our strength is in our vulnerability. Being vulnerable is no longer an excuse. Our vulnerability can only become a weakness when we as women continue to sit and watch our world turn upside down and crumble beneath us and we still sit. Our Vulnerability becomes a weakness when we see a fellow woman struggling to survive and we neglect or even judge her instead of stepping in to help.
We become weak when our young daughter tells us she’s been raped by a family member and we’re the first to shut her up, victimize, call her a disgrace and tells her she caused the rape.
ALSO SEE: “The Afro Hair Industry Really Holds Its Clients At Ransom” Leillah Sekalala.
We are weak when as women in position, we’re part of the leadership that will sit on files of evidence that should give abused girls justice. We are weak because women these days fabricate rape just to earn some more money, gain position or for fame. We are weak because we are happy to gossip and tear our fellow woman down on social media even at her lowest moments. We are weak because we let ego stand in the way of love. We no longer watch each others back.
Today, it is our responsibility to reclaim our power even as we celebrate the contributions we have made. It is our responsibility to highlight the efforts of our women past and present. In doing so we’re able to channel the next generation on the part of real girl power which is to rediscover who we are as women and where our power lies.
As women we are powerful and beautifully made. When my mother was faced with extreme domestic violence, her mother, my grandmother did not judge her daughter or let her rot in marriage in order to protect the family name. She stretched out her hands, takes her daughter and pregnancy plus three little ones. Without the strength and love of these women, there may not have been me today. There may not have been Divas of colour today. This is strength, this is power.
ALSO SEE: Ernest Kouassi: No One Listened To Me Before.
We need to reignite the strength and power that women before us showed . Women like Maya Angelou, Mary Seacole, Harriet Tubman and many others. Even in their imperfection, the showed how perfect a woman’s strength can be. We need to start thinking like the 10,000 women who stood up against the British Colonial masters in Nigeria – The Aba women’s riot till date is one of the most successful stand up against the government in history. We need to start thinking like women and know that for us to keep our glory as queens and princesses, we must take up our primary roles with diligence and grace, pull up our clothes once more and be ladies who change the world for good.