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Making noise for Africa

Speaking Truth to Power by Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem (Fahamu Books & Pambazuka Press), reviewed by Fatima Mujtaba

July 25, 2010
2 min read

Speaking Truth to Power brings together leading Pan-Africanist Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem’s thoughts on a number of critical issues, including the empowerment of women, the dynamics of global politics and domestic political contestations within Africa.

Abdul-Raheem, a Nigerian, was a journalist and a prolific columnist in newspapers across Africa. He later became one of the founding editors of Africa Review and a member of the seventh Pan-African Congress held in Uganda in 1994. He lost his life as a United Nations Millennium Campaign deputy director for Africa during a maternal health campaign trail last May in an ambush in Nairobi.

Abdul-Raheem began writing a series of ‘Pan-African Postcards’ in 1997, around the time of the overthrow of the Mobutu government in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These have been brought together in this thought-provoking collection published by Pambazuka Press with the support of African Women’s Development fund.

Through his keen wit, Abdul-Raheem presents his vision of a free Africa at a time when global power structures continue to hold the continent in a subordinate position. He also juxtaposes the persistent inequalities in African society, including in healthcare access, with global advances in technology. Despite more than half a million women in the global South dying in pregnancy and childbirth, all too often the African response has been to accept ‘God’s will’ rather than questioning the will of those in power.

From urging the women of Africa ‘to make noise’ as part of the Piga Debe campaign on women’s rights to poking fun at the free market as a ‘dressed up’ imperialism, Abdul-Raheem’s was a radical voice both within Africa and for Africa. He condemned the Wall Street $700 billion bailout plan pushed by the Bush administration by pointing out how far it superseded the $72 billion fund set aside to meet UN millennium development goals by 2015.

The Pan-African movement has been criticised by a range of commentators, who have charged it as playing a role in maintaining repressive regimes in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. Yet despite these criticisms, for Abdul-Raheem the value of

Pan-Africanism remains the dignity and solidarity it encapsulates, not only for citizens of Africa but the world.

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