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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Q & A with Angélique Kidjo

Grammy Award

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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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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Africa Reflecting: A year of philosophical introspection ahead for Africa


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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Watching ‘Concerning Violence’.


                      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


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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Media frenzy about Ebola


On a flight to Lagos last week, a woman with a terrible chesty cough and feverish eyes sat a couple of seats away from me. Unlike many a public transportation commuter, the woman was considerate; she covered her mouth when she coughed and it was evident that she was trying to cough as little as she could despite…

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The EU’s African history


The majority of Europeans take for granted that the EU was set up to create peace and stability in Europe. After all, the EU won the Nobel Prize for “advancing the causes of peace, reconciliation, democracy and human rights”. Yet this fabrication of the truth would make Alfred Nobel do a triple turn in his grave….

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Ethical Fashion Initiative: when fashion is both beautiful and meaningful

ICT cropped copy

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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When it comes to the bride price app there is only one word. No.


This post is inspired by a piece  CNN published on Wednesday about the Nigerian bride price app, an app/quiz which calculates the marital value of a woman by pricing attributes such as her height, weight, beauty, cooking skills, education and dialect. All in jest, yeah, the app, as the site’s disclaimer says is, “a joke, and…

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Awra Amba, an Ethiopian village where gender equality is real

Gebeyehu & Mesghana from Awra Amba

If I were an alien visiting our planet this week I’d think, “Whoa, how’s that for a mess, one half of the species trying to annihilate the other half!” We on earth don’t see it that way ourselves; or we would be in revolution against misogynist warfare. Yet an eye that has not been conditioned to normalise the…

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Seven things that women want in Africa’s future


This week, more than 3000 delegates are at the annual meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Kigali discussing new strategies to tackle poverty, underdevelopment, and put their weight behind global schemes that ensure Africa’s progress. To mark the occasion, UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, published an OpEd today titled Women’s Role in the Next 50…

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The truth about girls lives in Nigeria

Image Source: GirlHub Nigeria

In March this year, GirlHub Nigeria invited me to give a talk during Social Media Week Lagos, which I started with a prayer I’d written for little girls. I’d like to share it with you bearing in mind that it is not religion specific. Dear God, may the next generation of girls not grow up to worry…

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Is women’s political participation in Africa really rising?

rising or not

Last month, a group of circa 40 women gathered in Banjul, Gambia for a transformational feminist leadership workshop organised by Women Living Under Muslim Law (WLUML). I was one of the trainers at the weeklong workshop; my sessions were about using communication for feminist advocacy. During the week we discussed, among other things, culturally justified…

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The sacred is political


“You can’t not be religious!” is a reaction I often receive when someone asks me first whether I am Muslim, as my name implies, and then (when I say no) whether I am a Christian, which I am not either. Having found out that I’m neither Christian nor Muslim, the inquirer then often proceeds to…

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The African Femme Fatale


As the year comes to an end, I thought that I would like my last post of the year to be about something exciting, a feminine energy we could do well channeling more of in 2014. Scrolling through old posts and comments, I recognised an energy brewing, one not yet defined but one which can…

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