Published on 27th June 2021
Dr. R. Madaha had an opportunity to give a keynote speech at the Virtual World Community Development Conference held in Nairobi from 21 to 23 June, 2021. The title of his keynote speech was Community development and Empowerment: The interconnection of ABCD and feminist approaches and their role in community empowerment processes. Dr. Madaha collaborated with Brianne Peters from the coady institute based in Canada.
The presentation was based on upcoming book titled, “An Introduction to African Transformative Feminism (ATF): Against Patriarchy and Neoliberalism.” This is one of the unique books, which operationalizes and puts into practise the feminist theory. The book is a product of extended experience and expertise of the author in gender empowerment and community development interventions since 2004. The author wears many hats as scholar and practitioner interacting with feminists at all fronts. The author has been serving as consultant and resource person for national and international NGOs. He has founded NGOs, CBOs as well as saving and credit groups. Although the book benefits from experience of the author, it focuses on the feminist efforts of a network of Tanzanian feminists. The network is led by Tanzania Gender Network Program (TGNP). The agenda of the network is to empower marginalized women and men in Tanzania and the rest of the developing world through fighting patriarchy and neoliberalism. The feminist efforts in Tanzania gained a new momentum since 1990s. As such, the author has made specific efforts to document recent feminist efforts and the associated locally developed feminist doctrines to help change agents from across the world learn from such efforts. The book is meant to inform intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank on some of the weaknesses of the conventional development approaches and the need to revise them to accommodate the needs and interests of marginalized people. The book is also meant for academicians who strive to link feminist theory and field practice in an African context and Sub-Saharan Africa in particular. It can serve as a university textbook to help students to link classroom and real life situation. It can also help them conduct action oriented field research and interventions targeting marginalized people in Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere. The book also serves as a field manual for community development practitioners, gender practitioners, and local government officials struggling to implement gender empowerment projects. Sufferings among marginalized people and women in particular are oftentimes because of poor decisions and wrong presuppositions by decision makers and policy makers. For that reason, policy makers and decision makers will benefit from reading the book greatly. They will be in position to make informed decisions and policies in the interest of marginalized people.
The book stems from an argument that African feminists, including those in Tanzania, have developed feminist doctrines to suit their contexts. Tanzanian feminist doctrines and methodologies -which have been employed by TGNP and its network of feminists for over two decades- have been created, recreated and refined to suit a variety of contexts. Along these lines, the book is one of the few, which shows how a locally developed feminist theory can be operationalized in the field to influence the lives of women and other marginalized people positively. The author strongly believes that the feminist theories and associated methodologies have been greatly refined to the extent that they have become unique and useful. There is a need for them to be documented and shared to the wider audience. Although, the book benefits from some primary and secondary data generated by TGNP in which the author participated as a consultant, resource person, field facilitator, and lead researcher, the analysis and views presented in the book are not necessarily those of the organization.
The book is composed of three main parts. The first part includes chapter one and chapter two. The second part includes chapter three, chapter four, chapter five, and chapter six. The third part includes chapter seven and chapter eight. The first part focuses on the context as well as the theories of African Transformative Feminism (ATF) and African Tribal Social Elasticity (AFRITRISOE). Readers will create a better understanding of ATF after reading Chapter One. A chapter on AFRITRISOE presents a context in which ATF thrives. The majority of theories have ignored the African context. For that reason, they have failed to create meaningful impact on the lives of the African people.
The second part of the book focuses on the operation of the ATF to address context specific and real life challenges. The part shows how African Transformative feminists use ATF to mobilize marginalized people to fight for the rights and make use of locally available resources. TGNP has among other things used ATF to engage with marginalized people in Participatory Action Research (PAR); analysed policies of the government to make them gender responsive; and analysed government budgets to make them gender responsive. One of the weaknesses of the conventional feminist scholarship has been the operation of such discourses in real life situation. ATF addresses this challenge.
The third part of the book focuses on the sustainability of ATF and the conclusion. Concerning the sustainability of ATF field interventions, the author proposes some income generation initiatives owned by the marginalized people themselves. Following over 10 years of hard work and networking, the author found an NGO known as AGEN in 2011 to experiment and then develop a people centred model (Madaha, 2014b). The grassroots empowerment model is called “Grassroots Investment Model” (GRAIMO). GRAIMO is a dream about creating communities with high level of development who are free from poverty and gender oppression following the under-utilization of locally available resources and opportunities. The model focuses on empowering communities for them to make the best use of locally available resources. The model is ideal for countries from across sub-Saharan Africa suffering from poverty. Poverty results into unnecessary pressure to immigrate to other countries away from the region. There should be the determination to reverse those trends for the betterment of everyone involved. The trends can be reversed, if locally available resources are used effectively and efficiently. The model can serve as one of the important pillars of ATF in the future.