For Africa Writes’ finale, an unapologetically feminist line-up…
Posted on 20th October, 2021 in News
When Africa Writes comes to an eventful close this weekend, after a rich roster of previous events, it will unapologetically be with black women in mind, front and centre. The work of feminism, of women taking up space, in the centre of their own stories, of resisting the patriarchy, seems to be tireless, endless work. The festival is adding itself to the cause, lending its platform to drive sound debates and conversations with and around African women.
There is much to say. It has been quite the year for women of African descent.
But to be honest, when is it ever not?
In Nigeria, women were centre stage in leading #EndSARS, a generational movement and national demonstration against police brutality and calls for government accountability. Across the continent and globally, cis and trans African women started admittedly fraught, complex conversations around gender identity and transness, while it remains unfashionable to do so. In Namibia, young women through social media mobilised against sexual violence, calling for legislators to act. Phyllis Omido, of Mombasa, Kenya, fighting against water contamination in her community and after a decade of campaigning – secured a $12 million settlement for lead poisoning victims in her community. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala made history as became the first woman and African to lead the World Trade Organisation, sparking a viral trend of women dressed in her now-signature head-to-toe Ankara garb. Fresh after her announcement, a Swiss newspaper ran a widely condemned and deemed sexist headline that read, “this grandmother will be the new chief of the WTO”. Even though the eminently qualified Okonjo-Iweala, like many other women had risen high to such an accomplishment, gender discrimination was not far behind.
The work to “defy, disrupt and destroy the patriarchy,” according to African Writes headliner Mona Eltahway, remains urgent.
This weekend, at the British Library, on 23rd and 24th October, Africa Writes wants us to talk about it:
Saturday 23 October, 14:30 – 16:00 BST, With Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah and others.
In this session, there are no taboos. Framed around the groundbreaking book by author, feminist activist and award-winning blogger, Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, this session looks to dive into sexuality, relationships, freedom and self-discovery. Like with the book, guests will be taken on an intersectional journey through polygamy, queer communities, polyamory, religion and beyond. Each one is a unique exploration of African women’s experience of sex and love in all its manifestations. Singles, swingers, second wives – each tale sweeps through different universes of what could be, and what is, even if not openly. With humour and panache, The Sex Lives of African Women – and the conversation the festival hopes to have – might make your jaw drop more than once.
Sunday 24 October, 14:30 – 16:00 BST, With Natalia Molebatsi and others.
Based on the “anthology of womanist poems”, of the same name, edited by Natalia Molebatsi, this panel will explore how the anthology honours “ancestor women” like Rosa Parks and Sarah Baartman, and also questions and disrupts the patriarchy. Featuring the work of over 40 women in African and the African diaspora, the poems speak to “birth and death, fertility and infertility, rape and genital mutilation, war, exile and forced migration, but also revel in joy, desire, and the expression of sexuality and the erotic.”
Dismantling the Patriarchy: Mona Eltahawy in conversation
Sunday 24 October, 17:00 – 18.30
“What would the world look like if girls were taught they were volcanoes, whose eruptions were a thing of beauty, a power to behold?”
Award-winning American-Egyptian journalist, activist and author Mona Eltahawy concludes Africa Writes festival with this special headline event to discuss her latest book The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls with Dr Leyla Hussein, ushering an urgent rallying call to destroy the oppressive systems and attitudes enabled by patriarchy today.
Africa Writes is brought to you by The Royal African Society. Book tickets to these events here.
Ayodeji Rotinwa is the deputy editor of African Arguments.