African mothers like Bibi Titi Muhammed led Tanzania’s Revolution

African mothers like Bibi Titi Muhammed led Tanzania’s Revolution

In the African anti-colonial fight, a driving force of the revolution, African women, are often forgotten. Bibi Titi Muhammad, mother of freedom, pushed Tanzania to anti-colonial freedom, fighting in the streets, from jail, leading all the way.

The Black Hammer Times intentionally brings these stories to the forefront because it’s vital to highlight colonized revolutionary women around the globe.

The Black Hammer Organization’s second Principle of Unity is:

“We believe all Colonized Proletariat are equal; no matter gender, sexuality, age, body type, location, religion, language, mental/physical differences and/or bi/multiracial identity.”

And the fourth states:

“We believe that the Colonized Proletariat is the only true proletariat. Only through our leadership can white power, capitalism, colonialism, imperialism and all its symptomatic offspring be smashed.”

Today, on the 20th anniversary of Bibi Titi Mohammed’s death, she is exalted as the mother of Tanzanian freedom. 

Tanzania’s Anti-colonial History

“Uhuru na Umoja” (freedom and unity) is the battle cry of anti-colonial occupation in Tanzania, and was adopted as the country’s coat of arms. 

Tanzania Coat of Arms
Tanzania Coat of Arms via FischX

Tanganyika was colonized by Portugal in the 15th century, before Arabs pushed out the Portuguese in the 18th century. The late 1800’s, as European nations were dividing Africa, Germany claimed Tanganyika as part of German East Africa, but during WWI Britain took hold of German territories and held control throughout WWII.

During the time of European occupation, East Africans fought to take their land back and in 1961 Tanganyika gained its independence. When newly independent Tanganika united with the island of Zanzibar in 1964, the name changed from Tanganyika to Tanzania ­– the nation we have today.

The Driving Force to Freedom

Tanzania’s independence was more than the removal of British control. It signified the complete unity of Africa as one nation of people, no longer divided by colonial forces. Tanzanian Independence meant a future for poor African people to build dictatorship over their lives, land, labor, and resources.

Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, is championed as the father of independence. Bibi Titi Mohammed stood beside Nyerere as the mother of freedom, a driving force of liberation. ‘Mwalimu’ is the Kiswahili word for teacher, and ‘bibi’ is the Kiswahili word for grandmother; both are used as titles of honor.

Colonialism would have us think the reference as mother puts Mohammed below Nyerere, but, in Tanzania, mothers, grandmothers, are commonly seen as leaders within the community; the force that holds the community together.

Julius Nyerere and Dr Hastings K. Banda Prime Minister then president of Malawi, visiting Tanganyika in the early 1960s. Outside a Tanganyikan African National Union office.
Julius Nyerere and others outside a Tanganyikan African National Union office. via The National Archives UK

It was Bibi Titi Mohammed who gathered the women.
It was Bibi Titi Mohammed who organized the women.
It was Bibi Titi Mohamemed who politically educated the women.
It was Bibi Titi Mohammed who gave a public voice to the women

And it was the women who taught people like Julius Nyerere.

Bibi Titi Mohammed was a leader of the many of the nationalist movements in Tanganyika. She led Umoja wa Wanawake wa Tanzania (Unity of Tanzanian Women), the women of Tanganyika African National Union, and was also the minister for women and social affairs. 

Unlike the women, the men in the movement were afraid of public exile and worried about their political activity in the nationalist movement threatening their jobs. So the role of Bibi Titi Mohammed, and Tanzanian women, in securing the success of Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) were substantial.

In 1969, Bibi Titi Mohammed was thrown in jail for her attempt to overthrow the independent government Nyerere built, due to government restrictions that limited women that Bibi rejected.

Bibi Titi Mohammed recognized that patriarchy is a symptom of colonialism, and she refused to allow any woman to be subservient to the very men they teach. Her legacy continues to be felt in Tanzania by all colonized people, and especially by poor and working class colonized women.

Black Hammer Organization aims to continue the work that Bibi Titi Mohammed started. We’re asking all people to join our organization who want to develop themselves, fight colonialism, and build self determination for your colonized community. 

This 20th anniversary of her death is a reminder that revolutionaries may die, but the revolution they birth lives in all of us.

Land back!

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