Latest posts by Rama (see all)
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People around the world argue about African feminism all the time. Africans especially debate whether or not it is Un-African. Although feminist concepts have existed on the continent for centuries, they haven’t always been the most popular. Often, we are told that feminists are an isolated group of unhappy women who hate men. You’ve probably heard of this phenomenon from one of the authors that I will be talking about in a few minutes. The truth is that there is a long list of Trailblazing African feminists that we honestly just don’t hear enough about. These change-makers have contributed to feminism through their writing, policy, art and music. There are hundreds of them but here are five who have inspire me to do better and that you should get to know:
1. Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah
“I was a feminist probably by the age of 10; I just didn’t know the F word.”
This Ghanaian writer and blogger is also a woman’s rights activist who focuses on African women’s sexuality. Even though she lives on a continent where women’s sexuality is often treated like something to be ashamed of, she is not afraid to speak out about it. Works like “Adventures From the Bedrooms of African Women” are bold statements that deserve to be recognized. Her and her writing partner, Malaka, have a blog by the same name that provides women with a safe space to talk about different sexual experiences. They even included a page on sex education which is much needed, especially for younger African girls who usually don’t get any information on the topic.
2. Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie
“‘You must never behave as if your life belongs to a man. Do you hear me?’ Aunty Ifeka said. ‘Your life belongs to you and you alone.’”- Half of a yellow sun
You’ve probably heard about her before. She is a Nigerian New York Times bestseller who basically went viral after part of her speech ended up on Beyoncé’s Flawless. Chimamanda was using her voice way before then, though. Her books and essays tackle so many different things including poverty, tribalism, gender roles, the importance of representation and of course, feminism. Adichie was recently under fire over a comment that she made about transwomen. She tried to clarify the statement by elaborating on it. Her explanation was welcomed by some members of the community but others still felt like she was trying to define womanhood. The 40 year old continues to fight for LGBTQ rights in her country of origin.
3. Fatma Eman
This brave woman has been fighting radical extremists in Egypt for quite some time now. She is one of the human rights activists that marched during the Egyptian revolution in 2011. She has spoken about the revolution helping her step up her game when it comes to advocating for women’s rights. She risked her life then and as a researcher for Cairo’s Feminist studies NGO Nazra, she continues to do so on a daily basis. Her research focuses on Gender equality and gender roles. The NGO aims to share knowledge on these topics with the people of this conservative nation. They do so by hosting workshops and sharing research on a variety of topics including sexuality and Islamic feminism.
4. Inna Modja
““Now, because I have a platform, I can get other survivors to open up, and talking helps me, too. If I can change one life, one viewpoint, then it’s a victory.” –
She is a Malian musician with a big Afro and an even bigger voice. Modja underwent female genital mutilation against her parent’s wishes by a great aunt when she was younger and suffered the consequences. She is one of the lucky ones who survived the process and got the chance to have reconstructive surgery later in life. She uses her platform and her music to fight this very dangerous practice and advocate for women’s reproductive rights. On her peace anthem “Tombouctou”, she repeatedly says that she will keep on fighting indicating that this is only the beginning.
5. Aissatou Cisse
“I also grew up in a context where religion was used to confine women’s space and take away our voices. In the fight for women to reclaim their voices I have personally pledged to leave no stone unturned. ”
Her Mother suffered from Rheumatism and as a result, she was born with a physical handicap but Aissatou Cisse did not let this limit her. She uses her writing to fight against the way that religious beliefs have been manipulated to serve men’s interest. In her novels, she talks about early marriage, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and traditional practices in rural areas that usually result in violence against women and children. Her words have mobilized and inspired many including the president of Senegal who she used to advise.
So there you have it. Five women who are fighting to make a difference and I for one, salute them.