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Across Oceans and Cultures Women Unite in Brooklyn

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Oct 18, 2006
After singing about her for a year, on October 11 the Brooklyn Women’s chorus
finally met Rebecca Lolosoli. The story of Lolosoli’s Umoja village in Kenya
had inspired director Bev Grant to write the song, “Where Women Rule.”
Wearing an elaborate bead collar and traditional robes, Lolosoli listened with tears
in her eyes as the Chorus sang her song.

Lolosoli was introduced by Vivian Stromberg, Executive Director of MADRE.
Founded in 1983 to help women in Nicaragua, MADRE now supports Umoja and
indigenous women’s groups all over the world.

The chorus listened with tears in their eyes as Lolosoli softly told her
story. Women who had been raped by British soldiers and rejected by their husbands
had nowhere to go. Lolosoli founded Umoja (meaning unity in Swahili) as a
safe place for the women to raise their children in peace. By selling their
beadwork to tourists, the women were eventually able to save enough money to buy
the land their village stood on and to buy their own goats.

The struggle against the male-dominated culture has been long and dangerous.
Many times the men beat the women in the marketplace, hurting them and
breaking their beautiful bead collars. At one time they even decided that Lolosoli’s
ideas were so powerful that she must be killed. One lone man stood up to the
crowd and talked them out of it.

Lolosoli finished her story by explaining that the goal of the village now is
to build a school so that their daughters can grow up educated and
self-supporting. The chorus then sang, “The Women Are Coming,” a Bev Grant song about
the women in Ugborodo, Nigeria who organized for their rights against the oil
giant Chevron-Texaco.

As the evening ended with a standing ovation for Lolosoli, smiling shyly she
embraced chorus members with tears and kisses. It was a remarkable moment.
Women from extremely different cultures felt the power of joining their voices
for their common goals of peace and justice.

Contributions for the Umoja village school can be made through MADRE at and “Where Women Rule”, the cd single, will soon be downloadable for
a contribution at their website as well. Cds of the Brooklyn Women’s Chorus
and “The Women Are Coming” can be purchased at

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