Activism Begets Activism

Abuy Nfubea (middle) during African Press Club summer event last week

Dateline: San Antonio, Barcelona

 By Chiogor Constance Ikokwu

 “My mother always said that the most important thing is not for people to love you but to respect you.” These are the words of Abuy Nfubea, whose life to date has been consciously or unconsciously piloted by this formidable belief.

Born to activist parents in Equatorial Guinea, Abuy gained political consciousness very early on in life. His teacher mum and politician dad were neck-deep in issues of social justice, human rights, feminism, and black liberation. As expected, Abuy grew up alive to the global black movement at the time.

He was immersed in the relevant literature too. His reading list ranged from Thomas Sankara to Malcom X, Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey, Fela Kuti, Winnie Mandela and a host of others. He recollects very vividly an incident at home following the assassination of Thomas Sankara.

“When Thomas Sankara was killed, my mum imposed a curfew at home. No food, no television, no going out. She said it was out of respect for him,” explains Abuy. He was 14 or 15 then and did not understand the rationale for the lockdown. It was not too long before he grasped the issues.

After primary school, Abuy was shipped off to Spain for secondary education. Travelling back and forth between Spain and Africa provided a lot of exposure. By 19, he was involved in school politics at University in Spain. It would seem that he chose the perfect course to study: Political Science.

His activities at the University shaped his future. He edited a newspaper and worked at radio and television stations, specialising in African affairs, immigration, black thought, philosophy and women’s rights. Abuy was moved when he read about the travails and death by hanging of Nigerian writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa.

His political consciousness also propelled him into different movements of the time such as the free Mandela movement. Activism took him to the USA and later to Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile, etc, where he learnt about the plight of blacks in South and Central America. Knowledge of the fact that there are at least 200 million Spanish speaking black people, gave him a reason to stay true to the cause.

Of his work in that part of the world, he says: “I’m proud we’ve changed the mentality of Africans in the Spanish world. They’re now optimistic and fight for their future. They now call themselves afro-descendants.”

He is equally proud of achievements in Spain. “We changed black people in Spain as a consequence of our struggle,” he states.

Abuy has continued working as a journalist. He has written five books; runs the Uhuruafrika Television; manages the Marcus Garvey Online University focused on teaching black history, afro-feminism, Pan Africanism; and co-founded a bookshop called Wanafrica.

These are Abuy’s books if you would like to check them out: Poesia de Estirpe, Introduccion a la Cultura Bubi, Mujer Rastafari Chile, 50 Anos de activism Mujeres Negras en Espana, Uhuru Rigoberto.

What an interesting life. I love Abuy’s mother’s advice, which places premium on respect over love. Of course, love is necessary in life but there’s wisdom in this counsel. My question this week is: what do you think about love and respect? Which, would you rather strive for? 

Have a wonderful week everyone!

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  1. Wow what an interesting reading. I think respect is earned, is deserved, is personalised. That’s why I chose respect over love. Most times love is a product of favour, we do little or nothing to earn it. Nature plays important role in love with it’s endowments mostly… like beauty, like brilliance, like sweet natured temperament etc. But you work for the respect you desire, you build it, you inculcate that consciousness in your every move and relations with people. You become it. Love is such an unassuming thing, and you are compelled to become sentimental where it’s concerned…

    Love boxes me up, but respect makes me strive to be on top of my game. People who go for respect make great Mark while those who go for love many times lose themselves.

    Both are important but one is more important than the other and in my scale, it’s respect!

  2. I always first think of love and respect in the words of Paul in the book of Ephesians when he implores husbands to love their wives and wives respect their husbands. I have a natural leaning and interest in human psychology and have a degree in it and when I was taught in church that in general (with of course exeptions) men need respect from women and need to work at loving more than them my observations of life agreed with that. This may be less so now for some men where equality is hopefully becoming more prevalent and men can acceptably show there caring sid more. Is Paul’s view (and mine in the past)based on the historical roles played by either sex (man the bread winner) and therefore an environmental effect or is it purely genetic and therefore impervious to change? I would suggest that men have the innate ability to love as much as women but to-date imperfect socio-economic conditions has led to the role differentiation as stated by Paul and still exists in large part today. But in my view the potential for men-women relations to be on an even footing generally re love and respect is biologically possible given the right conditions. I’d love to hear more views.

    1. Well said Oby, respect is deserved. It definitely does not fall on one’s laps!! If you want it, you go work for it.

    2. Ian, I guess love and respect in the context of a man and wife is different from the work place, for instance. Between a husband and wife, I agree with you that if a man loves his wife dearly and shows it, she loves him back. But he also has to deserve respect from her. Respect is usually borne out of our actions and interactions. He has to prove himself, if I may use that phrase and vice-versa.

  3. Sorry I should have added the power plays and sin factors involved in heterosexual relationships. I’d love to hear more from others on that as well. I need time to think on it 🙂

  4. Articulated and well written Constance, You are amazing. I could relate to Abuy’s up bringing having been raised by a dad that was a high ranked police officer and a mom that was a teacher. My parents were very strict and discipline and respect was the order of the day.

  5. What makes for a healthy respect and what doesnt in a marriage or a relationship? I base my opinion firstly and fundementally on the fact that as a Christian God has given me the freedom to choose Him or reject Him. Therefore in forming a relationship it is important that both are allowed the freedom to be themselves. When “you should instead of” enters the conversation it has to be done with great respect and understanding of differences and only in a limited way. If this becomes a repetitive mantra borne from unconscious emotional reflex responses beware. Respecting differences in personality, background, gender, past experiences etc is not an easy task and takes great understanding and respecting the others right to chose for themselves even within a marriage bond for me is the only way to progress.

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