Amina Mama

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My early heroes included Amina of Zazzau, the socialist-feminist activists Gambo Sawaba and Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, and my grandmothers. During the 1960’s and 1970’s I had the benefit of a sound solid education in Nigeria’s post-independence primary and secondary schools, followed by universities Scotland and London. As a young adult I took myself on a series of exploratory journeys overland across Africa, Europe and into Asia, and later to North America and the Caribbean, witnessing the upheavals in Afghanistan and Iran in the early 1980’s, and the Grenadian revolution. I read a lot on the side of the formal scientific training I received in universities, allowing my ideas to be shaped  by my readings of Marx, Althusser, Gramsci, Sartre and de Beauvoir, before moving on to Frantz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral, Walter Rodney, CLR James, Nkrumah and other African nationalists, and later  finding much of value in Edward Said and Foucault’s early works. I also discovered and read feminist literature from all over the world – the usual northern feminist classics of course  - but also discovering with delight the work of Bessie Head, Nawaal El Sadaawi, Alifa Rifaat, Ama Ata Aidoo, Flora Nwapa, and later embracing Angela Davis, Audre Lorde,  and many other revolutionary thinkers, feminists and friends.

During my student days in the 1980’s, I joined the socialist feminist national organization Women in Nigeria and took up community activism in London, developing an appreciation of the power of activist research in the process.