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Houston Breakthrough 1980-04
Page 18
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Houston Breakthrough 1980-04 - Page 18. April 1980. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. July 22, 2014. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/4490/show/4479.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(April 1980). Houston Breakthrough 1980-04 - Page 18. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/4490/show/4479

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough 1980-04 - Page 18, April 1980, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed July 22, 2014, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/4490/show/4479.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough 1980-04
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date April 1980
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 32 page periodical
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Original Item Location http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 18
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name femin_201109_559p.jpg
Transcript cross the river by ferry and stand on the opposite side, you're looking at the Congo River. It's the same river, but the different names are a nationalistic thing." They traveled from Liberia to Zambia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Zaire, and Kenya, but visa problems kept the journalists out of Angola. S. Braxton Black: When you left, what did you expect to discover? Alma Newsom: It was primarily a background trip. None of us, except Tony, had ever been to black Africa. We wanted to get firsthand impressions. By talking to people we got a perspective which we could apply to our future writings, reportings and producing duties. Our information sources out of Africa are very, very limited. What can you read about Africa on a day-to-day basis? You can't read anything unless its some sensational happening. When an Idi Amin is running amok, there's lots of press about Uganda. When Amin is ousted and the country is going through a traumatic local dialects. There are different stages of development because of external things rather than the people themselves. To a large extent, the level of development depends on what colonial power existed there and what institutions or basic systems, if any, people still use. There are perceptible differences in how people think which reflect their French or British colonial history. The things people have in common are traditional values—the home. The role of the female is very traditional. One asks a man how many sons he has, not how many daughters. I noticed in some countries that women are trying to break out, more so in West Africa and Liberia than in East Africa. S.B.B.: Is that because American influence is stronger in West Africa than elsewhere? A.N.: In Liberia it is because of identification with the United States. S.B.B.: Can you give specific examples and low-profile. Now they want to be known for their efforts. They said they were struggling for recognition but pointed out a big difference between themselves and the feminists in the United States. They said, "We have no problem with our identity. We know who we are and what we can do." S.B.B.: What about family roles? A.N.: Most of the countries are still developing and don't think society can afford any disruptions in the traditional family, especially in urbanized areas where families have more economic pressures. In rural areas, the preservation of the traditional family and domestic roles for the woman is automatic; but it'si hard to maintain traditional roles in the. city, maybe because both parents have to» work. I met a woman who is kind of a contradiction. She is very active, publicly and professionally, and her family and husband encourage her. She changed careers and did many things success- Typical market scene in Nigeria. rebuilding period, suddenly the news stops. We don't have continuous news coming out of black Africa. Our impressions are distorted and based on limited information. As much as possible, we tried to get out into the villages and markets to see what people were buying and what their living conditions were. S.B.B.: In the countries you visited, what similarities did you find among the people? A.N.: From country to country there are lots of similarities and great differences. Language is always a problem. From village to village the dialects can change dramatically. There are some common words but frequently people are not able to communicate. This is why more and more countries are trying to get a standard language to aid business transactions. In Zaire the official language is French, but the vast majority of people outside the capital city don't speak French. They speak S. Braxton Black is a struggling freelance writer and a newcomer to Houston from Memphis, Tennessee. of the "breaking out" you mentioned? A.N.: We had constant battles trying to get off official schedules and away from official people in order to get to the grassroots. But the time wasn't there. I did not go to Africa to study women, but I did meet a group of women journalists returning from a meeting of 300 professional African women. They said West African women were much more ready to assert themselves than East African women whom they saw as willing to accept the traditional role of being a homemaker. These journalists said African women had no identity problems. The journalists, who had been to school in England or the United States, told me: "Our struggle, just starting in Africa, is similar to the feminist struggle in the United States. We want to be recognized for what we are doing. African women are present in practically every aspect of society, but there is no fanfare about it." S.B.B.: Can you give an example? A.N.: They are educators. The president of the University of Liberia is female. There is no hassle about that. Women hold government posts and judicial posts. But they have also been low-key fully. She has several children, but won't say how many because it is believed unlucky to count your children. She endorsed family tradition saying it was the woman's role to nurture children; but she turned around and said she was lucky because her husband was willing to help. S.B.B.: Who controls African society? A.N.: Most of black Africa is male dominated. A woman in a roomful of men is expected to sit quietly or serve the men. Women are not active in decision-making. The group of African women journalists told me they do all the work and get half the pay of men. They are bitter. S.B.B.: Do women have any base for social or political power? A.N.: The women who sell things in the markets are the real entrepreneurs in Africa. They are a social, political and economic machine, or at least a potential machine. But they have not recognized their power. Most of them don't want it yet. The market women exercise their power only when someone messes with their stalls, when a legislator tries to close markets on a certain day. Then the market women will react, when their own narrow interests are threatened. But they have no grasp of their power beyond their narrow local concerns. S.B.B.: What are the political systems in those countries? A.N.: It varies greatly from country to country, from quasi-democratic to out and out military dictatorship. But they wouldn't call it that. Nigeria fascinates me. It's been through all kinds of turmoil. For several years it was under military rule. They decided some time back to become a democracy, a constitutional government, on October 1, 1979. During the intervening years there were all types of military upheavals. Yet, as planned, on October 1, 1979, the military ruler handed over the government to an elected civilian government. The country is operating under a new constitution modeled after the U.S. Constitution. They won't admit it's modeled after the U.S. Constitution, but it is. The elected Nigerian government is trying hard to succeed, but democracy is new to them and you have to expect problems. We have problems making democracy work in this country. In Nigeria they have a new building for the two houses of their legislature. They are making laws and hammering out a system: setting up Boards of Health and a judicial system, and still writing their Bill of Rights. We talked with some of the representatives who are seriously trying to represent their districts. They are figuring out where to put public works projects like television stations and dams. Representatives from northern Nigeria are trying to pull development away from the southern concentrations of projects in the capital of Lagos. They have already decided to move the capital northward to the center of the country. S.B.B.: Does democracy work in Africa? A.N.: Nigeria is one attempt at democracy I'll be watching. There is still a great military presence there. It's something you don't dismantle overnight. When you fly in, they tell you not to take pictures in the airport. That's a carryover from the military. The civilian government hasn't gotten around to undoing everything. Mt. Kilimanjaro, and to take pictures of Nigeria impressed me with its determination to follow through the democratic experiment. Zimbabwe still has to be tested. Its constitution mandates a parliamentary government based on the British system. They have elected officials who can be unseated. There are some, built-in controls but the government is still settling in. I'm not sure about the other countries. I think many of them have a long way to go. They may be faced with coups and violent changes in leadership before they start to settle down. S.B.B.: What role does the United States and the Eastern Bloc, specifically Russia and Cuba, play in the black African nations? A.N.: That's an interesting question because it gets to something basic. The U.S. has not decided what position to have in Africa. This leads to contradictory behavior. We may want positive relations with an African country, but we don't follow through. Our foreign aid to them is low. They need a mechanized agriculture but we haven't helped. We have not helped them defend themselves against hostile neighbors, especially in Zimbabwe's conflict with South Africa. How can you have a positive policy when you don't know what the hell's going on? S.B.B.: What kind of policy do we have? A.N.: Our policy is mostly reactionary. We wait to see what happens and then we react. We must understand where black Africa is coming from. Say you're the leader of a country. You have to do what's in your best interest, not always in the best interest of someone else. Take weapons—Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda is widely thought of as 18 HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH