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Women in Global African Diasporas  

Tiffany Patterson

Global African diasporas are communities of African-descended peoples scattered across the world by slave trades and migrations. Slavery and other forms of bonded labor were sanctioned by Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. In the Mediterranean region, Africans from the Sudan were sold as slaves into the Middle East and Egypt as early as the 7th century. In the Indian Ocean region, Africans established contact with South Asians as soldiers, sailors, merchants, musicians, and explorers but were also part of a slave trade from countries on the east coast of Africa including Ethiopia (Abyssinia), Kenya, and Mozambique. Slaves were sold to Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka as well as the Pacific region—as far as China—to work as domestics in the homes of the wealthy, as soldiers, and as concubines. An Atlantic trade in African slavery developed from the 16th to the 19th centuries carrying more than twelve million Africans across the Atlantic for a growing plantation economy in the Americas. These Africans came from the Bight of Benin, Bight of Biafra, Windward Coast, and the Congo in southwest Africa, a region controlled by the Portuguese. Transported on slave ships from Europe, African women, men, and children were carried across the Atlantic to labor on sugar, rice, coffee, and cotton plantations. Women were also sexually exploited, producing more laboring bodies and introducing color hierarchies throughout the Americas. Once free of slave systems, African-descended women used their labor to build their communities and support their families. Though they faced discrimination, many became artists, cultural workers, and activists in movements for justice and freedom. Women developed political and social organizations in support of education and human rights issues and achieved economic power. They also became political and cultural leaders and continued to challenge discriminatory systems based on race, color, class, and gender.

Article

The Ethiopian Red Terror  

Jacob Wiebel

The Red Terror was a period of intense political and inter-communal violence in revolutionary Ethiopia during the late 1970s. This violence erupted two years after the revolution of 1974 and was concentrated in the cities and towns of Ethiopia, particularly in Addis Ababa, Gondar, Asmara, and Dessie. In the struggle over the direction and ownership of the revolution, opposition groups of the radical left violently opposed a military regime that itself came to embrace and promulgate Marxist-Leninist language and policies, and that relied heavily on the use of armed force to stifle dissent. While much of the violence was carried out by security personnel, the delegation of the state’s means and instruments of violence to newly formed militias and to armed citizens was a defining feature of the Red Terror. The number of casualties and victims of the Red Terror remains heavily contested and is subject to divergent counting criteria and to definitions of the Terror’s scope in relation to other concurrent conflicts in the region, such as the Eritrean and Tigrayan civil wars; plausible figures suggest more than 50,000 deaths, in addition to many more who were subjected to torture, exile, personal losses, and other forms of violence. To this day, the Red Terror constitutes a period that is remembered in Ethiopia as much for the forms of its violence as for the extent of its harm. Its ramifications, from the support it triggered for the ethno-nationalist insurgencies that overthrew the military regime in 1991, to its role in the emergence of a sizeable Ethiopian diaspora, make the Red Terror an episode of defining and lasting significance in the modern history of Ethiopia.

Article

Early Factionalism in Zimbabwe’s Liberation Struggle  

Brooks Marmon

The course of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle was fundamentally shaped by tensions among competing nationalist factions. The impact of this dynamic is typically observed from 1963, when Zimbabwe’s long-serving ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU)-Patriotic Front, was founded following a fissure in the liberation movement. Earlier instances of intranationalist competition in Southern Rhodesia (colonial Zimbabwe) have generally escaped scholarly attention despite their pioneering contributions to the dynamics of political pluralism in Zimbabwe and the presence of noted political figures amidst their leadership. In 1961, the Zimbabwean nationalist movement experienced its first significant split with the formation of the Zimbabwe National Party (ZNP) which broke away from the National Democratic Party. The ZNP, in turn, experienced its own rupture a year later when the Pan-African Socialist Union (PASU) was formed. Although these were the two only two nationalist challengers of note in the early 1960s prior to ZANU, several other short-lived Black-led political parties emerged at this time in settler-dominated Southern Rhodesia. The ZNP and PASU appealed to rising grievances with the prosecution of the anticolonial liberation struggle. They were also a consequence of the changing geopolitics wrought by Africa’s decolonization. The two parties sought to consolidate their position by appealing to the emerging cohort of African anticolonial leaders across the continent. These efforts induced extensive backlash from the main wing of the nationalist movement, then led by Joshua Nkomo. Both the ZNP and PASU were short-lived, effectively collapsing by 1963. While neither party was able to effectively overcome these intense assaults, their comparatively fleeting existence shaped the political environment by influencing tactics and providing a template for subsequent nationalist contenders seeking greater longevity.

Article

Women in Chad  

Eline Rosenhart and Germaine Remadji Guidimbaye

Chad, a landlocked state in the heart of Africa, encompasses an area of 495,755 square miles (1,284,000 km2) and contains a population of 15 million people, with an estimated 180 different people groups. Women have played an important role in Chad’s history and society. In the precolonial period (16th century–1900), Chadian women played an essential part in the physical labor activities that provided for the livelihood of the community, yet the majority of women held limited decision-making power. In the courts of precolonial kingdoms, however, certain women of high rank held important political functions. During the period of French colonial rule (1900–1960), no significant effort was made to promote the status of women. Moreover, certain colonial policies geared toward generating revenue inflicted disproportionally heavy burdens on Chadian women. Education for women in colonial schools was an exception rather than a rule. Nevertheless, a small number of women were able to take advantage of the opportunities they did receive to carve out a space for themselves and become leaders in independent Chad (1960– ). Those belonging to the dominant political party mostly aimed their attention at improving women’s rights, while others in the opposition focused on the larger battles against colonialism, authoritarianism, nepotism, and the blatant disregard for human rights in Chad. In early 21st-century Chad, women are still underrepresented in all spheres of public life. Sexual and gender-based violence against women has become commonplace, contributing to the mounting gender inequality that continues to pervade and shape Chad.