LOUD WHISPERS: Joana Silochina Foster (1946-2016)

I first met Joana Foster at an international conference on Violence Against Women, which took place in Brighton, England in November 1996. I took my son with me to the conference, and he fell ill. As I fretted over my son, Joana fussed over me.  After Brighton, Joana and I became firm friends. She was a mother-figure, auntie and friend. At the time we met, she had just become the Regional Coordinator for Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF), one of the leading women’s rights networks in Africa. She was based in Harare, Zimbabwe. Anytime she was in London, which was often, because her daughter Helen lived there, Joana would get in touch and we would meet up.

In March 1998, Joana stopped over in London on her way to attend the annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York, the meeting known in the international women’s movement as CSW. I was going to attend the CSW that year as well, and we were booked on the same flight out of London. The day before, we met up for lunch at a restaurant near AMwA’s office in Holborn. As we walked down the street, we were comparing notes and sharing our frustrations dealing with our respective donor agencies. I was telling her about my experiences with a funder who had sat on our proposal for eighteen months only to turn around and give a ridiculous excuse for rejecting the funding request. I ended my rant with, ‘It is about time we started our own fund as African women’. Joana stopped in her tracks. ‘What fund’? she asked. ‘An African women’s fund’ I said. She laughed and said, ‘Welcome on board. We already have a fund’. Prior to that conversation, AMwA had been planning to start a fund for African women, as a logical step from the work we were already doing, running capacity building programs for African women and facilitating advocacy opportunities. Joana Foster and Dr Hilda Tadria had started working on the idea of an African women’s fund as far back as 1994, based on inspiration Joana had drawn from attending a workshop organized by the US based  Global Fund for Women. ‘African women can do this’, Joana said to herself, and she managed to convince Dr Tadria to join her. Both of them did some planning and consultations, but the timing was not quite right. Dr Tadria was working with the United Nations Economc Commission for Africa (UNECA) in Addis, and did not have much time for additional endeavors. Joana was Ghana Country Director for CUSO, a Canadian NGO at the time, then she left to become Regional Coordinator of  WILDAF in Zimbabwe. The idea of the fund for women in Africa was put on hold. After our March 1998 discussion, Joana, Hilda and I decided to join forces and the two separate ideas for a women’s fund in Africa became the African Women’s Development Fund. I left London in 2001 to move to Accra where we had decided to locate the fund, and Joana finished her term at WILDAF and returned to Ghana. I became the Executive Director of AWDF and Joana was the Chair of the Board.

Full Reading in Loud Whispers cover final


Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com




Sign up for Updates

14 Responses to LOUD WHISPERS: Joana Silochina Foster (1946-2016)

  1. Femi Diipo November 22, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    This is so touching, what an inspiring life she lived. Rest in peace auntie Joana

  2. D'apoet November 22, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    My condolence to you ma’am and all the friends, families and acquaintances she left behind, may her soul rest in peace

  3. precious November 22, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    rest in peace auntie Joana. what a touching story. really touching.

  4. DSEED November 22, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    So touching. Great woman of valor. RIP

  5. Olowolafe Olanrewaju November 22, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    You will forever be remembered. Gone but your good works speak on. RIP

  6. olaluv November 22, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    Thank you Aunty joana for making a great impact in the women world. Sleep on and farewell

  7. Opeyemi November 23, 2016 at 10:54 am

    R.I.P Aunty Joana. Life is really short and we must make impart. People will only remember your deeds.

  8. Olakunle Olajide November 23, 2016 at 10:58 am

    This is truly a life well spent.. May her soul rest in perfect peace.

  9. Onozare November 23, 2016 at 11:01 am

    No matter what we do, we should always remember that Life is really short. Only memories will keep basking. This was a great landmark acheived by Late Mrs Joana and Even though I have not met her before, I have seen her works and I pray that God gives everyone of us the fortitude to bear this loss.

  10. Samuel November 23, 2016 at 11:03 am

    What a touching story, i can’t but just wonder how many lives Mrs Joana would have touched during her stay on earth. These are the kind of people that are worth celebrating. May God bless her soul and may she find rest in the presence of the Lord.

  11. MARIA November 23, 2016 at 11:03 am

    And she battled cancer for two good years. Wow! What a Fighter.


  12. Temisan November 23, 2016 at 11:06 am

    I know that Life is short and most especially for those making great impacts, it becomes shorter. And this story shows that she is a real fighter, she battled cancer for two good years. Wow!
    God bless her soul and her works . Sincerely, We all must do something to carry on this legacy.

  13. Timi November 24, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    Invisible TEARS are the hardest to wipe away…so sad. Rest on sister Joana. God loves you.

  14. L'Oreal November 24, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    There are 3 categories of people in life – Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what just happened….

    Auntie Joana lived a fulfilling life…
    she made things happen…

    Rest on…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of new posts by email.