7 non-fiction books African feminists should read

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African feminists, that is African women who are feminists, should not only read books by other African women. From my Afropolitan point of view, our reading should be cosmopolitan, we should enjoy books about all kinds of topics from anywhere in the cosmos. That is how you expand your mind, and not by repeatedly reading one genre. However,…

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Repowerment rather than empowerment


I’m getting impatient with the idea that the reason we should empower African women is to lift African economies, as UN under-secretary-general and executive director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, argued in The Sowetan on Sunday. I’m not fed up with this proposition because economic growth isn’t important for African countries (although I do think…

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A discussion with Nawal El Saadawi and other upcoming talks


Next month, I will be in discussion with one of my biggest role models, the renowned Egyptian writer Nawal El Saadawi. The impact El Saadawi has had on my work (and my life!) is profound, I intensely admire her achievements as a writer, intellectual, feminist, philosopher and activist. In fact, I live by one of her wisdoms. She says: “Words should…

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More on mutuality, intellectual development and mental power

Minna Salami interviewed by Friends of Europe. Photo credit: Witness Images/Thierry Roge

Friends of Europe, a leading European think-tank that aims to stimulate thinking on the future of the EU, invited me to contribute to Debating Europe, a platform where policy makers and experts respond to questions from the public. Below are clips with my responses to the three questions that I was asked. They’re about a minute each. In a…

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Mutuality – the answer for women and men who want peace


I loved this Guardian feature on Mia Couto, the Mozambican writer who was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Award this year. Speaking of Mozambique, he said the following: “It’s a very patriarchal society, with high levels of violence against women. Women are ‘eaten’ by their society and by life itself.” I find the metaphor…

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A brief history of portrayals of African women in the west

"Bosch, Hieronymus - The Garden of Earthly Delights, center panel - Detail women with peacock" by Hieronymus Bosch (circa 1450–1516)

The western world has for a long time tried to distort and demonise African womanhood. From historical art to modern day icons such as Serena Williams, there’s no doubt that a campaign to demean black beauty is ongoing and far-reaching. However, western history is also sprinkled with appreciation of the beauty of African women, particularly dark-skinned African…

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Frida Kahlo’s few little pricks exposes male violence


  It is shocking how common stabbing to death by men is a cause of death for women. In the past month alone a 21 year old, Laura Davies, was stabbed to death by her boyfriend near a pony sanctuary in Essex. Another British woman, Jennifer Williams, 25, was stabbed to death by her partner too….

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What is beauty?


There are three types of beauty, 1) Political Beauty, 2) Artificial Beauty and 3) Genuine Beauty. This is what I argue, among other things, in Pretty, a documentary series exploring different ideas of beauty across the globe. Watch my episode in the clip below. Then if you would like to hear more of my thoughts…

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Intellectual development is as important as economic development


If I could change only one thing when it comes to African affairs, it would be that we focus on intellectual development as much as we focus on economic development. I made this argument, among others, in an interview with Charles Aniagolu on “Talking Africa”, ARISE TV’s weekly programme on current affairs last week. Check it out below….

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Oyalogy – a poetic approach to African feminism


Below is a transcript of a talk I gave at Trinity College Dublin on May 25th, 2015 as part of their Africa Day programme. Organised by Trinity International Development Initiative (TIDI) the conference, Inspiring Change: Empowering Women’s Futures in Africa, heard from leading change-makers who are transforming the landscape of gender equality in Africa and globally.  Oyalogy –…

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Black or woman?


In a forthright interview published in The Guardian on Saturday, the eternally inspirational Toni Morrison reflects on Obama’s upcoming end of term. And on Hilary Clinton, she says, I respect and appreciate her. It was difficult in the beginning to choose between her and him. I didn’t want to do the, ‘Which is better? Gender or race? The…

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Regarding pornography


It’s time for women to radically change our views about pornography. By radically change our views, I mean views both as in watch more porn and views as in attitudes. Statistics suggest that half of all women with access watch porn, but there’s still a veil of shame to it. Why? After all, most people, male or female,…

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The paintings of Manuela Sambo


Manuela Sambo’s art makes me feel the same way that Yvonne Vera’s novels do. Her pieces make me (longingly) identify with a kind of primal power that women possess but, following centuries of brainwashing, that we are unaccustomed with. Like Vera’s, Sambo’s work seems to be in search of a world of poetic essence, caring deeply…

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Sexism is pan-Africanism’s Achilles heel


  In the 19th century, books in the west were often published in weekly segments in journals and newspapers. Readers awaited each new instalment and the discussions that followed eagerly. Pigeonhole is a new publishing platform aiming to revive this communal spirit of reading.  One of the series you can read on their platform at…

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On the African Union’s message to women


Yesterday, to commemorate International Women’s Day, the former chairperson of the African Union, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, posted a message for African women on the union’s website. The focus of the update, one which I have pasted below, was to hone in on a political vision and action plan – ‘Agenda 2063‘ – which, among other things, “envisages a…

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7 ways that women are oppressed without knowing it


I will live but that is all that I will do for patriarchy, is my conscientious feminist motto. It is not always an easy task for women, however, because society constantly tries to diminish feminist consciousness by encouraging women to redefine rather than, remove, oppression. For instance, rather than embolden legal action against rape, women are encouraged to…

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