Meanwhile, in Africa…


Umoja Women’s Village

Umoja – No Men Allowed’ tells the amusing and life-changing story of a group of impoverished tribal Samburu women in Northern Kenya who reclaim their lives, turning age-old patriarchy on its head when they set up a women’s only village.

Their story began some years back, when around 600 women claimed British soldiers raped them. When the women returned home, their husbands beat and cast them out, declaring they had brought shame to their families in line with traditional Samburu customs. Ostracized by the entire community, the cast-out women say they were forced to live on the fringes of society like dogs.

When Rebecca Lolosoli, a charismatic crusader for women’s rights gets wind of the women’s plight, she decides to do something about it. She brings the women together to establish the village of Umoja (unity), on an unoccupied field in the dry grasslands. Rebecca becomes the matriarch, encouraging the women to build a village where no men are allowed.

The women make handicrafts and jewelry, which they sell to tourists, and they soon receive donations from abroad and build a small school for the children. But their success and prosperity incur the wrath of the men. First the men build their own village 1km downstream to keep a close eye on the rebellious women. Then they try to emulate the women’s success by setting up their own tourist village. But with no jewelry making or English-language skills, their business flops. Humiliated and green with envy, the men attempt to stop tourist buses arriving at Umoja, and launch daytime raids on the village. They say the women are getting fat.

But the proud women work day and night to keep the village alive and kicking.

The women of Umoja have rewritten traditional tribal laws and now have a taste for freedom. The finale in this unlikely gender war is a showdown between the intractable women and a village chief sent in to resolve the conflict. But there’s simply no turning back for these women.

Obo Village DIY Defence

From Wired: Danger RoomAfrican Village Uses Tech to Fight Off Rape Cult:

Obo was just one of hundreds of communities terrorized by the [Lord’s Resistance Army]. Many simply wither and die afterward.

But Obo didn’t.

Instead, Obo’s surviving villagers raised their own volunteer scout force (depicted above), armed it with homemade shotguns, and began disseminating intelligence on the LRA’s movements using the village’s sole, short-range FM radio transmitter.

The results of this do-it-yourself approach were encouraging. Since the attack three years ago, Obo has not suffered another major LRA invasion. Noting Obo’s successful strategy, Invisible Children, a California-based aid group, in March traveled into Central African Republic to help another American group, Interactive Radio for Justice, upgrade the town’s radio to a much longer-range model, further boosting the community’s self-defense capability.

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