Great Black Women With Dr Runoko Rashidi

 Wonderful Piece by Sister @modernemeid
Last Saturday I attended a presentation organised by the Friends of Fondation Félicité; ‘Great Black Women Past & Present, Those At Home & Abroad’. Author and historian Dr Runoko Rashidi presented the presentation, which (as expected) was inspiring and very informative. Dr Rashidi was really in his element, sharing a story behind many of the pictures in the presentation as well as sharing  bits of his personal life. He also showered black women with incredible amounts of praise and love; adding onto the positivity of the evening.
Friends of Fondation Félicité (a UK-based non-profit organisation) started the evening with their own presentation about the organisation. FFF supports an already established foundation in Haiti, the Fondation Marie Claire Heureuse Félicité Bonheur Dessalines. Félicité was the wife of Jean-Jacques Dessalines (who is widely regarded as the founding father of Haiti). FFF raises money for FF in an effort to help Haitians in spiritual and mental healing. FF also assists Haitians in becoming more self-reliant and efficient (a goal often ignored by many charity and aid organisations).
Félicité was regarded as special by her father. He believed she would go on to do great things. When he was in jail and Félicité was born, he refused to have Félicité named until his release. Félicité was an incredibly selfless and caring woman who helped care for the sick and wounded in the Haitian Revolutionary War. Félicité is honoured in Haiti’s Independence celebrations (which occurs on January 1st) by the consumption of Soup Joumou.
The presentation consisted of a slideshow of images of black women all over the world, from the Americas to the Melanesian islands and from the well-known to the unknown. The slideshow was available for purchase as DVD from Dr Rashidi.
The Venus of Willendorf
One of the first images shown was that of The Venus of Willendorf, which is a small artefact dating back to the Stone Age of Europe. The body resembles that of a woman of African descent.
Dr Rashidi then presented images of the Black Madonna. One of the excuses behind the dark complexion of the statues was that ‘it was a bad paint job’ which resulted in the original colour (white or tan) turning the statue black. Dr Rashidi raised the questions ‘why are so many of the Madonna’s black? Why didn’t the rest of the Madonna turn black?’.
Black Madonna’s are also considered powerful miracle workers.
Black Madonna and Child
Dr Rashidi further shared that the origin of Madonna and Child is based on the story of Aset and Heru. Aset is a goddess in Ancient Egyptian believe structure. Aset married Ausar who died before the pair even consummated their marriage. Aset was impregnated by Ausar through immaculate conception and had her son Heru, nine months later.
Left: Aset and Heru. Right: Madonna and Jesus
Dr Rashidi also mentioned that the NotreDame Cathedral of Paris is build over the temple of Isis. Notre Dame cathedral even had elements of Isis incorporated into the cathedral.
We then moved on from great black women in the past, to great black women geographically.
A woman from the Buka Islands
People from the Buka Islands (Buka means black) are said to be proud of their African heritage and have a reputation for being the darkest people on the planet. Dr Rashidi said that there are many Africans including South Sudanese who could give the Buka people a run for their money.
After a series of slides of black women all over the globe, we were shown images of great black women who fought for our freedom.
Nanny Of The Maroons
Nanny of the Maroons was the leader of the Jamaican Maroons, which were a group of enslaved people who fled the oppression of their slave masters and established their own communities on the island.
Queen Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba
Queen Nzinga was queen of the Ndongo and Matamba kingdoms of Angola. Her efforts saw the slave trade eliminated in her kingdom.
La Mulâtresse Solitude
La Mulâtresse Solitude, was a slave rebel who fought against slavery in Guadeloupe. In a fight for freedom, she was captured and then excuted the day after she gave birth to her baby. Dr Rashidi shared that the fate of the baby is still unknown.
Amy Ashwood Garvey
We also paid homage to the first wife of the Honourable Marcus Mosiah GarveyAmy Ashwood Garvey.
Ida B. Wells, was a journalist, suffragist and sociologist and regarded as the female W.E.B. Dubois. According to Dr Rashidi, Ida referred to her husband as Mr Barnett as a sign of respect.
Sarah Forbes Bonetta

Finally, one of the last images of the presentation that really stood out to me was that of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, a Yoruba princess who was taken as a goddaughter by Queen Victoria.

The presentation was a celebration of great black women; well known or everyday women… we were all celebrated.
Our sheroes are often ignored and their roles in the fight for freedom or their general influence is often overshadowed by that of our heroes.
Dr Runoko Rashidi wonderfully said:

Next to every great man, there is a great woman next to him and sometimes even in front of him. The Black Woman is God On Earth.

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