Author Archives: SPIDER WOMAN

Pre-registration for 2022 AGM – MAY 29, 2022

This year, we will once more miss the in-person greetings, hugs, and camaraderie. Due to the continuation of the pandemic, once more we are scheduling our AGM via Zoom with an opportunity to connect and chat included in our agenda.

How does it work?
Zoom allows a maximum of 100 participants – so, we ask our Members to pre-register. Each pre-registered Ujamaa Member will receive an email on Saturday, May 28, 2022 with detailed instructions of how to join the meeting via video conference. It’s first come, first served so register now. If you have to pass, please let us know so we can open up for other members to sign in.
WHEN: Sunday, May 29, 2022 at 1:30 PM (Mountain Time)
HOW: Register HERE

If you have to cancel go back to the form – HERE – to let us know.
If you have any questions, please email

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adich

BOOK CLUB May 2022 Selection.

The novel takes place in Nigeria prior to and during the Nigerian Civil War (1967–70). It follows five main characters, including the twin daughters of an influential businessman, a professor, a British expat, and a Nigerian houseboy. After Biafra’s declaration of secession, the lives of the main characters drastically change and are torn apart by the brutality of the civil war and decisions in their personal lives.

The book was published in 2006 and has been on many “best books” lists.


This year, the Ujamaa Grandmas Team is again taking part in Stride to Turn the Tide for the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign of the Stephen Lewis Foundation with a Virtual Walk during the month of June. We hope you will join us!

We stride in solidarity with African grandmothers who walk, every day, for every imaginable reason. Amid the AIDS and Covid-19 pandemics, the grandmothers of Africa are an inspiration. That is why we are walking, biking, running, swimming, golfing, hiking, crafting, cleaning, gardening, etc. (1 hour of activity = 5 kms). We all do several of these activities daily, so this is an effortless way to help support SLF.

We have set a fundraising goal of $10,000. We are asking you – our friends, family, and colleagues – to join our team, sponsor individual team members or the Ujamaa Grandmas team. Our team is not exclusive, it is a group of peopl who want to help raise funds to support the Grandmothers in Africa.

Please click on the ‘Register’ &/or the ‘Donate to Team’ button. It is simple, quick, and secure. Every dollar raised will influence the lives of grandmothers in Africa and their family in their care. Together, with your support, we can reach our fundraising goal.

Many aspects of the virtual walk work the same as a traditional walk. You can still register team members, sign up for online fundraising pages, and collect pledges. The difference is that instead of planning one day for a walk, team members walk over several weeks and tally & report their distance. That means you can record activity wherever you are and whenever you want. For example, why not challenge yourself to ‘walk’ to one (or more!) of the community-based organizations the SLF partners with in Africa? SLF works with 125 community-based organizations in 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, for example: Grandmothers Against Poverty & AIDS in South Africa, Farm Orphan Support Trust of Zimbabwe.

REGISTRATION: Please register by May 24th.

During the last week of May, we will have a Zoom session for team members to help answer your questions & discuss how to set personal goals, enlist pledges & replying to donors.

KICK-OFF: We will have a Stride Walk on June 9th at Bowness/Baker Park

FUNDRAISING: Be sure to let your friends and family members know that you have set yourself a challenge to walk a certain distance. They can help you reach your fundraising goal by donating to your online fundraising page or sending a donation to you (or directly to the SLF including your name and the name of your Stride walk).

Thank you sincerely for all your support. Stay well. We look forward to seeing you soon.
Ujamaa Grandmas Stride organizers
Sandra Burgess Louise Breadner Jan Geggie Lorraine Campbell


In the last enews the history of the Stephen Lewis Foundation was covered from 2003-2006. Grassroots community groups from the most affected HIV / AIDS countries in Africa asked for assistance and were hard at work.

Many Canadians, especially women, had heard Stephen Lewis speak about the work of the Foundation and started to raise funds to help (including in Calgary).
Ilana Landsberg Lewis and her father hatched an ambitious plan to bring 100 of the African grandmothers from 11 of the project countries to Toronto to coincide with the 16th annual International AIDS conference. This was an audacious project; involving enormous logistical problems getting visas, passports and making travel arrangements for 100 women from 11 African countries; many living far from an airport.
But it happened – and lives and communities changed.

Also invited were 200 interested older women from across Canada; many were grandmothers; but certainly not all. This was the launch of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers SLF campaign. Over 3 days participants met in small groups and workshops; all designed, selected and run by and for African grandmothers. Topics ranged from grief and depression management to orphan care and fundraising. The goal was to hammer out models of program support and fundraising.
African grandmothers discovered there were many more women in their same situation than any of them could have imagined. They also were surprised and moved by the support of the Canadian grandmothers. The Canadian women began to realize they could never again see their African counterparts as victims or people to be pitied – they were anxious – but courageous and very determined.

Ideas and lessons were forged at the workshops and a new development model was forged. As the Canadians heard in depth the stories and challenges of the Africans, they were determined afresh to help – but how best to do it?
Usual western fundraising methods such as group twinning, pen palling, sponsorship or adoption were felt by the African delegates to be ineffective and inefficient. One of the important decisions to come from the sessions was that funds would be raised for general grandmother programming; not earmarked for specific groups or organizations. The goal was to be grandmother needs before donor needs or interests while still retaining accountability to the donors.
Thus the African delegates as well as the Canadians present listened, connected and planned. A new movement was formed and grew from there.

Next month: the Toronto statement – “We do not need a great deal but we do need enough”.

The Son of the House by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia

BOOK CLUB April 22 Selection.

This novel was long-listed for the 2021 Giller Prize, as the author, originally from Nigeria, is now a Canadian.

The story is a tale of two women from different circumstances who become friends, and then are thrown together during a kidnapping, during which they tell each other their life stories.  The book is a quick read and is a fascinating account of culture and traditions in Nigeria, particularly as they affect the lives of women.


Sthembile Ndlovu, director at Izimbali Zesizwe, South Africa

“It’s so amazing, because the big organizations cannot reach the local level, but we are here and we are with the community.  We are hands on.  Even during Covid lockdown, we can carry on supporting the community.  Thank you for understanding us.  Without your method of support, this community would be suffering a lot.” – Sthembile Ndlovu, director at Izimbali Zesizwe, and SLF partner in South Africa

The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

This is a historical novel about women soldiers in Ethiopia during the 1935 Italian invasion.  The book is a gorgeously crafted and unputdownable exploration of female power, with Hirut as the fierce, original, and brilliant voice at its heart. In incandescent, lyrical prose, Maaza Mengiste breathes life into complicated characters on both sides of the battle line, shaping a heartrending, indelible exploration of what it means to be a woman at war.

No Future Without Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu

The establishment of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a pioneering international event. Never had any country sought to move forward from despotism to democracy both by exposing the atrocities committed in the past and achieving reconciliation with its former oppressors. At the center of this unprecedented attempt at healing a nation has been Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In this book, Archbishop Tutu offers his reflections on this painful experience.

In No Future Without Forgiveness, Tutu argues that true reconciliation cannot be achieved by denying the past. But nor is it easy to reconcile when a nation “looks the beast in the eye.” In this book, he recognizes the horrors people can inflict upon one another, and yet retains a sense of idealism about reconciliation, showing readers how to move forward with honesty and compassion to build a newer and more humane world.

Stay With Me by Nigerian author Ayobami Adebayo

BOOK CLUB October 2021 selection.

The unforgettable story of a marriage as seen through the eyes of both husband and wife, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.  Ever since they first met and fell in love at university, Yejide and Akin have agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time – until her in-laws arrive on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant.

If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais

BOOK CLUB September 2021 selection.

Members who attended one of Bianca’s talks, either the one sponsored by UJAMAA GRANDMAS or another, may be particularly interested in this book.

Bianca grew up and worked in South Africa before moving to Canada, and thus has an intimate perspective on the beauty and the struggles of that country.

Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi

BOOK CLUB July 2021 selection.

Homegoing is a novel about race, history, ancestry, love and time, charting the course of two sisters torn apart in 18th century Africa through to the present day.
Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into two different tribal villages in 18th century Ghana. Effia will be married off to an English colonist, and will live in comfort in the sprawling, palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising “half-caste” children who will be sent abroad to be educated in England before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the Empire. Her sister, Esi, will be imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle’s women’s dungeon, before being shipped off on a boat bound for America, where she will be sold into slavery.

Road Trip Rwanda: A Journey into the New Heart of Africa  by Canadian Will Ferguson.

BOOK CLUB June 2021 selection.

This non-fiction memoir has the author travelling in Rwanda 20 years after the genocide with his friend and cohort Jean-Claude Munyezamu, a man who escaped Rwanda just months before the killings began.

From the legendary Source of the Nile to Dian Fossey’s famed “gorillas in the mist,” from innovative refugee camps along the Congolese border to the world’s most escapable prison, from tragic genocide sites to open savannahs and a bridge to freedom, from schoolyard soccer pitches to a cunning plan to get rich on passion fruit, Ferguson and Munyezamu discover a country reborn.
Funny, engaging, poignant, and at times heartbreaking, Road Trip Rwanda is the lively tale of two friends, the open road, and the hidden heart of a continent.

This Mournable Body, by Tsitsi Dangarembga of Zimbabwe

BOOK CLUB April 2021 selection.

This book was among those recommended by the Lonely Planet in a post shared in the January E-News, and was long-listed for the 2020 Man Booker Prize. The Calgary Public Library calls it “a searing novel about the obstacles facing women in Zimbabwe, by one of the country’s most notable authors”.
Availability: The book is available at the Library, at Pages on Kensington and Shelf Life Books.

28 Stories Of AIDS In Africa by Stephanie Nolen

When we think of the grandmothers we are working to help in Africa, their children, grandchildren, families and friends, how much can we grasp of the impact of HIV/AIDS on their lives from our sheltered viewpoint?
Stephanie Nolen was the Globe and Mail correspondent inAfrica for six years and wrote this very readable book of personal encounters with 28 different lives.
The book was written in 2007 and many advances have been made in the ensuing years but along with miracle drugs has also come worldwide economic turmoil which has meant the situation and root causes remain largely unchanged. The book is available in the Calgary Public Library.

We Are All the Same by Jim Wooten

Nkosi Johnson was the face of children with AIDS in South Africa.  Given a home by a white South African family, he was given the opportunity to speak about living with AIDS at a time when the South African leaders were ignoring the crisis in their midst.  Articulate and self-possessed, he talked about our shared humanity and needs.  ‘We are all the same’.
Wooten interweaves the story of Nkosi with the history of blacks in South Africa and the stories of other Africans with AIDS.  By giving AIDS in South Africa a face, Nkosi makes it impossible for the reader not to feel compassion for all the children suffering like this.
This book provides the stories to humanize the crisis in Africa.

Heaven Shop by Deborah Ellis

Binti, a thirteen year-old girl in Malawi, is very happy with her life.  The youngest of three children, she stars in a radio show called ‘Gogo’s Family’, attends a private school and mocks her older sister for being madly in love with her boyfriend.  Her mother has died some years earlier and her father runs ‘The Heaven Shop’, a coffin-making business which shows no sign of ever being short of work.
Her world is turned upside-down by the illness and subsequent death of her father.  Her family is separated and it is only when she goes to live with her grandmother that things begin to improve.
This is a Young Adult book which deals honestly with some of the ways that young girls can be infected with AIDS and the consequences of this devastating disease.  It’s a quick read which explains why the Stephen Lewis Foundation is doing all it can to help the grandmothers of Africa.

Recommended for those who want an introduction to AIDS in Africa.