In April 2011
Saving The African Family Values: ALIKUNING SOCIETY is here to stay
By Prince Bubacarr Sankanu, Founder
The Gambia is the smallest country on the African mainland with a population of about1.7 Million. Women constitute the majority with 51%. Like in most African and developing countries the women are found mostly in the rural areas and in the agricultural sector.
The biggest challenge remains the low trickle-down affects of the development initiatives. Most of the funds and programmes geared towards women advancement are wasted on never-ending conference tourism and bureaucracy. Since majority of the women are illiterate, they have no strong lobby and find it difficult to claim strong ownerships of the gender empowerment tam-tams. They are subsequently reduced to Aseobi-wearing cheerleaders and recipients of charities.
Added to these, the rushed and emotional women empowerment programmes have ignored the role of men. The increasing stereotyping, marginalization and discrimination of men in the name of women empowerment is contributing to the disintegration of families and the general social order.
These ugly trends can be better addressed if men are engaged in the process of safeguarding the family as a sacred institution. Castigating men as the sole perpetrators of violence and other problems of society is counter-productive and leads to more violence and new inequalities.
In helping address these new inequalities and gender stereotypes, the Alikuning Society For The African Family (ASTAF) is born as a platform for gender sensitive men and women who would like to see more realistic gender balance in The Gambia and other Africa-related locations while saving the useful African family values. The key agenda of Alikuning Society For The African Family (ASTAF) as a non-religious, non-political and non-racist organisation are:
1. Protection of useful Heritages and the rejection of the backward ones.
2. Anti-Discrimination and Equal Opportunities.
3. Human Rights, Peace Building and Conflict Resolution.
4. Networking and Coalition Building.
5. Training and Capacity Building for young people, men and women people in Family Life management, Secularism, Liberalism, Democracy and Governance.
6. Poverty Eradication and Community Development.
7. Reproductive Health.
8. Social Security and Solidarity.
The vision of Alikuning Society For The African Family (ASTAF) is to see peaceful co-existence and equality between men and women according to their respective capabilities.
The mobilization of men for female initiatives has not been taken seriously in The Gambia.
Alikuning Society For The African Family (ASTAF) is out to change that. It will consider both men and women. Its strategies for executing its gender-balancing projects are:
· Networking with like-minded persons and groups of persons.
· Lobbying for government recognition of the qualifications of non-formal skills trainees like welders, carpenters, masons, mechanics, gardeners and other apprentices of the informal economy.
· Lobbying/Advocacy to all key groups and arms of government in The Gambia and Africa.
· Organizing reward programmes like HUSBAND OF THE YEAR©, FATHER OF THE YEAR©, MOTHER OF THE YEAR©, SISTER OF THE YEAR© Awards.
· Proclaiming and observing August 14 as African Men’s Day.
· Organizing Men World Summit and similar interactive gatherings.
· Organizing coming of age ceremonies and counselling events for young men and women.
· Observing the International Men’s Day (IMD) on November 19 of every year.
· Cross-media activism through social networks, films, electronic and print media, mobile content, community and street theatre, translation and distribution of relevant material into the concerned native languages, etc.
H. AFRICAN FAMILY BUREAU-THE GAMBIA (AFB-G):
The establishment of The African Family Bureau-The Gambia (AFB-G) is part of the overall sustainability and roll-out plan of Alikuning Society. The AFB-G will be the focal point for the following activities:
· Mentoring programme for young men and women.
· Support for teenagers going through the difficult phase of puberty.
· Family search and re-union service.
· Counselling for victims of domestic violence and perpetrators.
· Reduction in the level of societal violence against men and women through awareness creation.
· Enlightenment on issues of gender-related violence by men, women and society.
· Training centre for the public on family life management, conflict resolution and peace building in the community.
· Rehabilitation of delinquents and crime prevention support.
· Child custody issues.
· Independent investigation of false accusations and the diffusion of tensions.
· Career and income-generation advisory.
· Coordination centre for the establishment of the ALIKUNING INSTITUTE FOR FAMILY DEVELOPMENT (AIFD).
The African Family Bureau-The Gambia (AFB-G) will serve as pilot model for similar centres to be operated across The Gambia and selected African and Diaspora communities in the medium and long-term.
J. VERY IMPORTANT NOTICE:
Before it is late, I would like all and sundry to note that I did not form Alikuning Society For The African Family (ASTAF) to enrich myself. If I want to be fitly rich quick, I will join the lucrative diamond trade like my Sarahulleh kindred but I am not in any rush for loads of money. Like any other legitimate non-profit and no-state actor, Alikuning Society has the right to raise funds to pay for its strategic activities before its attains full self-sustenance as enshrined in Article 13 of its Constitution. I am not here to beg for charities. I am out to fight for your rights and if you feel Alikuning Society deserves your tax-deductible financial token of appreciation or morale booster, feel free to show it. The emblem of Alikuning Society is the Akan Adinkra Wawa Aba seed that symbolizes hardiness, toughness and perseverance. This proves Alikuning Society is not for cowards, big mouths and lazy bones.
Until such a time Alikuning Society is optionally registered in The Gambia as an international NGO, it will operate as a Diaspora-based division of the tax-exempt African Council for Arts and Culture and will enjoy its legal cover in accordance with Article 54 of German Federal Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch)and Article 55 of the German Fiscal Code (Abgabenordnung) governing non-commercial interest groups. These suffice for its cross-border operations.
Men are being insulted, ridiculed, marginalized and psychologically tortured in the name of women empowerment and no one seems brave enough to challenge this injustice. Men too have rights. I floated Alikuning Society not just because I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE but also because of the following real life reasons:
One, out of my audacity to provoke progressive change without taboos.
Two, I want to help save the women from themselves. I love the women passionately and I do not want them to suffer in the name of feminism. The die-hard feminists are confused.
Three, the subject of gender has been hijacked and transformed into a women-only affair creating new inequalities at the detriment of the women. The noun “gender” has now become synonymous to women even though it should be open for both men and women.
Four, people are too scared to challenge the status quo for the fear of being called sexists and chauvinists. I am jumping into the den of the lioness with the creation of this family rights advocacy group without looking back or up. Alikuning Society will not be another boring organisation. It will be law-abiding, cultural, secular, progressive, serious and responsible.
Five, I do not want to be a paper tiger and an armchair intellectual. I want to leave something tangible on the ground for the benefit of humanity even after my death. Alikuning Society will be one such legacy and I will gradually take the back seat to make way for its solid institutionalization.
Six, I planned to launch a men’s magazine as a separate project before Alikuning but suspended it until further notice. The experience from Alikuning on family value protection will help enrich the men’s magazine once I launch it. And,
Seven, the feminists have been enjoying a free ride on the back of men for so long. Now it is time to make them sweat.
Alikuning Society is here to stay. Complete your membership form today and be part of history making. If you cannot be an active member, you can be a passive one or a patron, supporter, sympathizer or behind-the-scene sponsor. Le us save the African Family Values!
My priceless gratitude goes to Jabiyong Ndey Tapha Sosseh in Mali, Fatou Jaw Manneh in USA, Alhagie Bahcureh Sankanu in Nigeria and Alhagie Saihou Touray in UAE who agreed to serve on the historic pioneer Board of Directors of Alikuning Society For The African Family (ASTAF).
Prince Bubacarr Sankanu
ALIKUNING SOCIETY FOR THE AFRICAN FAMILY (ASTAF)
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Official website: www.alikuningsociety.org
c/o African Council for Arts & Culture (AFCAC) e.V.
Postal Address: Postfach 800144D-51001 Cologne, Germany
Street Address: Gerhart-Hauptmann-Str. 31, D-51067 Cologne, Germany
Registration Number 43 VR13311Tax-Exempt ID: 281/5751/0602