‘Saluting our Sisters’ – the theme for Black History Month 2023 – emphasises the vital role black women have played in shaping history, inspiring change, and building communities. “It is time to celebrate their accomplishments and encourage future generations to take care of themselves and their communities,” (Black History Month website).
From civil rights activist, poet & author Maya Angelou to Ndaté Yalla Mbodj – a 19th-century Senegalese queen who fought against French colonisation – Migrateful chefs salute their sisters! Read on to learn more about the women some of our class teachers have chosen to celebrate.
Maya Angelou - Zeenat
“Maya Angelou was one the black Civil Rights activists. She played her role by fighting for the well-being and freedom of the black race in general, just like her predecessors. Her resilience, courage, boldness, and in particular her love for humanity as a woman, made her a role model for many black women. She left behind a great legacy. Through her journey of life, amidst various, intense, cruel discriminations, she survived all. She left many memorable events of her life behind, presented in poems, stories and many more. She is one of the greatest sisters among many, in black history to emulate. Maya Angelou is a LEGEND.”
Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti - Halima
“Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was a prominent Nigerian activist, feminist, and leader in the struggle for Nigeria’s independence from colonial rule. She was a tireless advocate for women’s rights, education, and social justice. I choose to celebrate Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti because her legacy as a fearless advocate for gender equality, education, and social justice makes her an ideal choice for celebration this Black History month. Her determination to challenge colonialism and empower women had a profound impact on Nigeria’s history and the wider African continent. Her unwavering commitment to justice and equality serves as a reminder of the power of individuals to effect positive change in their communities and beyond.
I celebrate these women for their resilience, courage, and dedication to creating positive change. Their contributions to literature, civil rights, and politics have left a lasting impact on society, making them exemplary figures to honour during Black History Month. Their stories remind us of the importance of perseverance and activism in the face of adversity.”
Ndaté Yalla Mbodj - Sereh
“Ndaté Yalla Mbodj, also known as Ndateh Yalla Mbooj was the last great Lingeer – or Queen – of Waalo – one of the four Jolof kingdoms in present day Senegal located in what is now North-West Senegal. During her reign, she fought against French colonisation and the Moorish invasion of her kingdom. In the 19th century, the Wolof queens Ndaté Yalla and her sister Ndjeumbeut Mbodj stood out as two of the most powerful women of 19th century Senegalese dynastic history.”
Onoti Uduimoh - Stella
“I would like to choose my mum to celebrate this Black History Month. She made me what I am today and inspired me a lot. She had a street food restaurant, everyone was happy when my mum was cooking. My mum’s food wasn’t expensive, she made it cheap so that everyone could afford to eat her food. I learned how to cook with my mum and every time we cooked melon soup, there were always a lot of people around my mother so it made me feel kind of like “this is what I want to do ” because it’s a kind of freedom. When you’re cooking, you’re free to do whatever you want to do and my mum really taught me: when she was there slicing her vegetables – I was there watching her.
She always used to tell me “you need to know how to cook, even though you are ten years old, it’s better to know how to cook from this day, so it makes you independent so you can cook for yourself anywhere you go.”
My mum always taught me very well. Food really brought people together, people always sat around my mum…old people, I can see my mum screaming…”What do you want?!” Everyone always called my mum, “mum”! Even the ones that were older than her, they called her “Mama, what do you have, I want this, give me this, I’m hungry, I’m just coming back, I need to eat, I need to eat!”. Honestly, I can see that smile on their faces, even when I was young – ten years – I can see the smile on their faces.”
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala - Atem
“Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a Nigerian-American economist who has been serving as the Director-General of the World Trade Organization since March 2021. She is the first woman and first African to be WTO Director-General. She inspires me because a lot of things have been said about Nigeria, we are tied down by international policies and our own bad governments. But Nigerians can still strive in the international arena. She makes me believe that no matter what happens, where you come from is not a hindrance unless you make it a hindrance for yourself. The world is big enough to accommodate any destiny: destiny is in your hands.
The rich pigment – the melanin – is not actually black, it is actually shining. It is not hindered and cannot be hindered by continent.”
Maria Bell - Delores
Maria is a friend of mine and she has been through quite a lot of challenges in her life: she has faced abuse from her uncle and stepdad, sickness with her kidney – being on a dialysis machine and having to raise a child alone as a single parent. Despite all of these, her faith has been strong, she kept believing, believing in herself and the people who encouraged her. She was able to come through this and write two books. She gives acknowledges the people who helped her along the journey as well, her community, her church groups. She is a very encouraging, strong woman: someone with this kind of strength to go through all of this and still pull through.