Africa’s freedom fighters are at the forefront in fighting oppression. Read about this two women who dedicated their lives to the cause.
Rose Lomathinda Chibambo
Rose Lomathinda Chibambo (Ziba maiden name) (8 September 1928 – 12 January 2016) was a prominent politician in the British Protectorate of Nyasaland in the years leading up to independence of Malawi in 1964, and immediately after.
Chibambo mobilised Malawian women in their political fight against the British as a political force to be reckoned as she fought side by side with men, in the push for independence.
In 1953, in Blantyre, she joined forces with Vera Chirwa to form the Nyasaland African Women’s League, closely associated with the NAC. Executives of the Women’s League would select fabric from which they made matching outfits. The purpose was to show solidarity at public occasions, identifying members as a group.
In 1956, she organised a group of women to protest the arrest of NAC president, James Frederick Sangala and secretary T.D.T. Banda.
In 1958, Chibambo organised the League of Malawi Women. The group used the profits from a monopoly on the sale of millet beer to fund their activities.
With growing tension between the NAC and colonial rulers, Governor Robert Armitage declared a state of emergency on 3 March 1959. Thousands were arrested. While heavily pregnant, she continued the fight, visiting political prisoners and planning political activities. She was arrested on 23 March 1959, two days after giving birth to a baby girl, and taken to Zomba prison.
Malawi gained independence in July 1964. Chibambo served as the only woman member of parliament and the parliamentary secretary to Kamuzu. She served as Parliamentary Secretary for Community and Social Development.
In September 1964, she was forced in exile for 30 years following the cabinet crisis.
She returned to Malawi in 1994. She became a businesswoman in Mzuzu, and was prominent in politics and church activities. She was a member of Church Action Relief Development, which assists the orphans of victims of HIV/AIDS, the Christian Service Committee, the Malawi Council of Churches and the Interdenominational Support Group for Prisoners. She died on January 12, 2016, in Blantyre at age 86.
Since 1 January 2012, she appears on Malawi’s 200 Kwacha banknote.
Bibi Titi Mohammed
Bibi Titi Mohammed (June 1926 – 5 November 2000) was a Tanzanian politician and activist. She was born in June 1926 in Dar es Salaam, at the time the capital of former Tanganyika.
Bibi Titi Mohammad began her public career as the lead singer in a ngoma (a dance and music group), where she celebrated the birth of the prophet Mohammed during Maulidi. In the 1950s, after World War II, she started to get involved with the nationalist movement in Tanzania. She played a key role in TANU political party, created by Julius Nyerere.
In 1955, Mohammed became the chairperson of the ‘Umoja wa Wanawake wa Tanzania’ (UWT – United Women of Tanzania), which was the women’s branch of TANU. Within three months of her coming into the position, she was able to enroll more than 5000 women into TANU and helped play a major role in the fight for independence against British colonial rule. She carried the voice of UWT to the masses. This organisation was key in promoting the beliefs and ideals of TANU. UWT also was an important tool in uniting women throughout Tanzania.
Tanzania became an independent country in 1961. She was involved in writing the constitution in 1964. She became junior minister for women and social affairs and achieved a place for women in the Tanzanian government. Also, she played an important role in the creation of the All African Women Conference.
Bibi Titi Mohammed lost her parliamentary seat in 1965, and with it, her authority. She resigned from the central committee of the party in 1967. She was challenging a clause in Nyerere’s proposal for African socialism, in the Arusha Declaration. All central committee members were barred from renting homes as a result of this proclamation. The freedom to rent houses was one of the few things that enabled most women to obtain a regular income due to their lack of education.
In October 1969, Mohamed and the former Labour Minister Michael Kamaliza were arrested, along with four army officers, charged with plotting to overthrow the government by instigating protests. She was sentenced to life imprisonment. Those close to her, denounced her. After two years into her life sentence, Nyerere commuted her sentence, and she was released from prison. After being released from prison, she spent the rest of her life in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 1991, when Tanzania was celebrating 30 years of independence, Bibi Titi appeared in the ruling party’s paper as “A Heroine of Uhuru (Freedom) Struggle”.
Today, one of Dar es Salaam’s major roads is named after Mohammed in honour of the great achievements made by her toward Tanzanian independence.
She is Africa is a free, informative website. If you find value in any of my content, please consider making a donation to keep She is Africa running.