Stella Dadzie: A Vigilant Voice of Empowerment and Resistance

Stella Dadzie is a founder member of OWAAD

Stella Dadzie was born in 1952 in London, United Kingdom, to a white English mother and a Ghanaian father, who was Ghana’s first trained pilot and served as a navigator in the RAF during the Second World War. Her early childhood was marked with challenges such as poverty, racism, and family separation, experiencing foster care in Wales, and facing constant upheavals due to racist landlords. This tumultuous upbringing no doubt stoked the fires of activism and advocacy in her, shaping a path that would later define her life and work.

A Life Dedicated to Activism

Through personal experiences of racism and observing societal injustices around her, Stella carved out a path of resistance and advocacy. In her twenties, she dove into the realm of activism, participating in protests in London and Greenham Common, and becoming a pivotal member of movements that sought to amplify Black and Asian women’s voices in Britain.

She co-founded the Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent (OWAAD), which worked relentlessly between 1978 and 1982 to challenge the predominantly white domination of the feminist and women’s liberation movements of that era. Stella, along with her colleagues, aimed to address the distinct and often overlooked struggles faced by Black women within these movements.

Notable Works and Contributions

Stella’s co-authored book “The Heart of the Race: Black Women’s Lives in Britain,” published in 1985, shed light on the multifaceted experiences and struggles of Black women in Britain. It went on to win the Martin Luther King Award for Literature in 1985, exemplifying the importance and impact of her work. The book was reissued in 2018, preserving its profound insights for new generations of activists and feminists.

Her work extended beyond the written word into practical action, contributing to the enrichment of curriculums and development of anti-racist strategies in educational and youth services. Stella’s poetry also found its place in publications, intertwining her activism with a passionate expression of lived experiences.

In 2020, Stella explored the resistance of enslaved women in her book “A Kick in the Belly: Women, Slavery and Resistance.” The work epitomises her persistent drive to unveil and explore the oft-neglected narratives of Black and brown-skinned women throughout history, validating their experiences and contributions.

Legacy and Continuation of Advocacy

Stella Dadzie’s lifetime of advocacy is a testament to the power of steadfast dedication to a cause. Her work reflects a deep-seated commitment to challenging and dismantling systemic injustices, whilst also advocating for the recognition and inclusion of the diverse experiences of Black women in historical and feminist discourses.

In celebrating Stella during Black History Month, we honour not just her contributions but the indomitable spirit of all women who have fought against societal norms for justice, equality, and recognition. Stella’s work and legacy continue to inspire a new generation of activists, writers, and educators to persist in the ongoing struggle towards genuine equality and social justice, ensuring that the stories of marginalised women are acknowledged, remembered, and celebrated.