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

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  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?

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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

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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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You love me, you love me not

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I’m sharing some display pieces from the exhibition You Love Me, You Love Me Not showing now at the Galeria Municipal Almeida Garrett in Porto, Portugal. The exhibition is named after a piece by Kenyan artist, Wangechi Mutu (featured). You Love Me, You Love Me Not is a major exhibition – over 100 paintings, sculptures, photographs and video by 50…

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Charlie Hebdo deserves the PEN courage award but not without critical discussion

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It’s World Press Freedom Day today, 3 May. The motive of World Press Freedom Day is that Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. It’s a right which is hardly…

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The paintings of Manuela Sambo

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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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Q & A with Angélique Kidjo

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A celebrity is commonly seen as “a person who is known for his well-knownness”. However, Angélique Kidjo is a celebrity in the original meaning of the term, celer: which has roots in change and of course, celebration. In other words, she is someone we celebrate because she transforms us, her work touches us both poetically and politically. Watching Kidjo perform…

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Listed in some exciting women’s month features

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I was incredibly honoured and quite stunned, frankly, to be one of twelve esteemed women (including Michelle Obama, and other heavy weighers!) to feature in ELLE Magazine Malaysia feature “Celebrating International Women’s Day: 12 women changing the world”. http://www.elle.my/life-and-love/Career-and-Money/gallery/Women-who-make-it-happen#1 It was also a delight and honour to be among YNaija’s Nigeria’s 100 most influential women list. http://lindaikeji.blogspot.de/2015/03/meet-nigerias-100-most-influential.html Check…

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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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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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Q & A with Walter Mosley about Ferguson, race and his latest novel

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What I especially admire about Walter Mosley, author of 37 critically acclaimed books including DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS, is that although his novels explore serious matters, they make a light read. In fact, people wrongly think that seriousness is a sign of depth. Simplifying serious matters, which Mosley does skilfully, is often a mark of profound…

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Watching ‘Concerning Violence’.

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                      The trailer for Göran Hugo Olsson’s ‘Concerning Violence’. I just watched ‘Concerning Violence’.’ ‘Anger. Catharsis. Birth. Small paroxysms of ritualistic release.’ ‘I also felt serene watching it.’ ‘This is what it is to be a woman. It is to be pain. Femininity is not a…

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Why you should read Assata Shakur in times of Ferguson

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Having witnessed police officers mercilessly beat up a group of young hippies, Assata Olugbala Shakur, at the time a young activist in the Black Students Union in New York, had an epiphany. It was this: she was not going to change a thing by smoking weed in the park and complaining about brutally racist police….

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Ethical Fashion Initiative: when fashion is both beautiful and meaningful

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It’s about 6pm on the 12th of June 2014. I’m at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva, a characteristically grandiose European institutional building made all the more incredible by its waterfront view and bright, modern yet noble style. It is the type of space that – bewilderingly – makes you think of both justice and injustice. Today…

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