KASHMIRA BANEE

Women make herstory (1) every day through real-life struggles against oppressions rooted in various forms of social relations (2). Of all her struggles, in our patriarchal-capitalist society, only few are narrated and shared.

The mainstreaming (3) of gender equality is gaining momentum in our society. We read about women climbing the economic and political ladders; an unprecedented phenomenon in Mauritius, as many would agree when comparing the present with preceding decades.

But what if we shift shoes with the oppressed – a path unveiling wide spectrums of reality, challenging our shallow perceptions of truths and deconstructing fabricated images of reality presented to us via success stories of few outliers or privileged citizens of the present economic system?

This journey of a thousand miles started when Corinne Camille, an artist and feminist, painted in Jardin de la Compagnie the untold daily suffering of women to mark the International day for the elimination of violence against women on the 25th November 2019. The venue was of no coincidence. It has cradled a long history of political protests and continues to be a place of no comparison in Port-Louis. With thousands of workers, students and the wretched of the earth crossing the garden every day, it is there that you see two (4) worlds of oppressed co-existing, but never dare meeting the eyes.

From our dialogues with people curious about our paintings and stopping by to share their opinions and lived experiences, stem our motivations to proceed with a monthly painting project at the Jardin. Through these interactions, we are transcending our realities and deepening our collective and political consciousness.

We have no idea to which shores this journey of a thousand miles will take us. What we know, however, is that we wish to embark on this trip of learning from the daily struggles of each other, empowering one another through solidarity, building emancipative relationships beyond fear and control while sowing seeds to build alternatives and co-create a solidarity economy in attempts of excluding no one.

On the path to liberation (5), besides their struggles against the dominant economic system of exploitation, women have an extra struggle to lead: that against patriarchy (6) to be perceived as an absolute being, not as a support or a right hand; neither to be subjugated nor to be infantilised. Humanisation, in this culture of resistance, in no way implies becoming the image of man who himself patriarchy and capitalism (7) have dehumanized (8) and alienated (9) from oneself and fellow beings. It rather goes to unfurling our essence as nature (10) being capable of developing empathy towards all forms of lives for a more humane and ecological (11) society.

Along this journey of a thousand miles to recreate ourselves endlessly in praxis (12), we intend to write and share our reflections on herstories. Our writings aim to provide counter-hegemonic (13) narratives on the struggles of women, trigger provocative thinking in different realms of society to contribute to popular education. It might bring discomfort in readers, but discomfort, as Marx (14) said, is a revolutionary feeling. Contributors to this occasional leaflet are not restricted to women; we exclude no one.

Aluta continua.

Notes

1)History viewed from a feminist perspective; 2)Gender relations, power relations, economic relations, cultural relations; 3)As gender equality became the United Nation’s 5th Sustainable Development Goal; 4)The working class and the wretched of the earth; 5)Emancipate from all forms of oppressions; 6)An established system of society which perceives man as a superior being and maintain his control on power ; 7)A model of economy based on overproduction and overconsumption for reckless capital growth and profit making; 8)Becomes an object; an annex to the machine of capitalist mode of production; 9)Separated from our products of work; feeling of isolation; 10)Humans are part of nature and are active participants in the natural ecosystem; 11)Recognising that the earth resources are finite and nature has its own rights ; 12)Based on reality struggles; lived experience of oppressed people; 13)Narratives made by elites which exclude the reality of oppressed people; 14)Preface of the Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon.