A discussion with Nawal El Saadawi and other upcoming talks

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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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When Obama addressed the African Onion

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In his sales pitch aka his “address to the African Union” last week, US president Barack Obama gave Africans a worse deal than Amazon.com, Inc. gives book publishers on any given day.  Obama’s pitch was pally, persuasive and punchy as any skilled salesperson’s. Terms like ‘partnership’, ‘development’, ‘co-operation’ and ‘opportunity’ were abundantly used. But make no mistake, its intention was…

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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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Intellectual development is as important as economic development

ARISETV

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

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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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Afropolitanism and identity politics

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I presented a radio essay “Afropolitanism – the cosmopolitanism that focuses on Africa” for Swedish Radio’s culture and ideas programme, OBS P1. You can listen to my reading here but it is in Swedish. I am sharing a translation below with some edits for clarity.   Cosmopolitanism – the idea that people are both citizens of the world at…

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Islamophobia in Europe and in Africa should not be conflated

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Fifteen years ago, before 9/11, hardly anyone used the term ‘Islamophobia’. Today, the term is used all the time, especially by liberals, but rarely with an accompanying reflection of its corresponding relationship to the ongoing “war against terror”. Islamophobia is discussed as though it appeared out of nowhere. And not, as it were, as a term that firmly…

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Sexism is pan-Africanism’s Achilles heel

Les_poseuses_de_bombes_(Guerre_d'Algérie)

  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

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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 South African rebel women artists – in memory of Miriam Makeba

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Today, 4 March, is the birthday of the unforgettable Miriam Makeba. To honour her memory I am posting a selection of my favourite songs by seven sensational South African singers who, like Makeba, embody/embodied the spirit of feminist pan-Africa and the African femme fatale.  Pata Pata!  Busi Mhlongo “Umoya ma-Afrika”  Brenda Fassie – “Vuli Ndlela” Lebo Mathosa –…

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‘Who will be the first African woman to sail the length of the River Niger?’

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  Here is a link to an interview that I did for The Corporate Canvas, a South African Careers, Finance, Culture & Lifestyle platform for African Millennial women.  The questions were great, I appreciate the opportunity they gave me to reflect on things that truly matter to me. Below is my favourite question, you can read the rest of the interview…

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On Afropolitanism and westernisation

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While reading Olufemi Taiwo’s book “Africa Must Be Modern”, I came across the following: It is almost required of an African intellectual that she or he be hostile to modernity and it suppositions. It is almost as if an African like me who deliberately embraces modernity as a way of life that promises at the…

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Citizens and women – two neglected words in Nigeria’s elections

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Nigerians have experienced some of the most unstable five years in their country’s history under the rule of President Goodluck Jonathan. Not so much because the problems we face today – such as poor infrastructure, oil corruption and terrorism – have not previously existed but because there is a heightened sense of awareness among citizens, a…

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Africa Reflecting: A year of philosophical introspection ahead for Africa

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On the brink of the new year, we are encouraged to look into the future with hope. But given the misfortune that 2014 was when it comes to African affairs, I am not hopeful about 2015. Here are some things that regrettably happened this year; violence in the Central African Republic, Libya and South Sudan escalated; over 19, 000…

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TEDxBrixton Talk – To change the world, change your illusions

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Last month, I gave a TEDx Talk titled “To change the world, change your illusions” at TEDxBrixton, which has now been uploaded on YouTube. Watching the clip takes me right back to the day: all the great talks, the wonderful TEDxBrixton team, the excitement and nerves but most of all the energy in a room…

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African men, are you still not listening?

VAW

Hey, it’s the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Violence against women is ginormous, ginormous, ginormous. It is so ginormous that the UN says it is a global pandemic. Other examples of global pandemics are Ebola, HIV and Bob Geldof. Due to its enormity I am thinking this post will be about how it is possible that male…

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