In this episode Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, Ghanaian feminist writer and blogger joins our guest host Rudo Mudiwa to talk about her groundbreaking anthology The Sex Lives of African Women.
The conversation begins with Sekyiamah's award-winning blog Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women that underwent a change in form to become a print anthology. Sekyiamah argues that stories on the blog hinted at a wide ranging, complex, dynamic experience of sex, sexuality and pleasure among African women — a facet missing in dominant narratives. The anthology explores these themes in detail through interviews with African women across the continent and the diaspora. Nana also shared her process about writing about intimate lives of women, cultivating comfort and trust and holding space for difficult conversations like child sexual abuse. Sekyiamah and Mudiwa reflected upon themes of self-discovery, queerness and space for ambivalence in African disaporic cultures. The author avers that we do not need tightly defined labels that we cannot move freely within. Mudiwa rightly points out that the radical potential of the book lies in the unapologetic foregrounding of African women's desires and exciting layers within it while making sure the voice of women is not overshadowed.
As a pan-Africanist feminist, it was important for Sekyiamah to show the breath of African heritage and womanhood. Lastly, Nana expands on including her own narrative at the end of the book as a means of feminist practice. The conversation encapsulates this remarkable book as work of care and offers a space for healing while celebrating Black people being in their bodies on their own terms.
Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah is a feminist activist, writer and blogger. She is the co-founder of the Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women, an award-winning blog that focuses on African women, sex and sexualities. She is director of communications and media at the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID). Her work has also been published in The Guardian and Open Democracy.
Rudo Mudiwa is an Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of California, Irvine. Her research examines how the prostitute–a symbol of the mobile and transgressive black woman–mediated anxieties regarding the challenge of remaking urban space, policing, and gender relations in the wake of colonial rule. In addition to her academic work, Mudiwa has published essays in Transition, Chimurenga, New Frame, Ebony, and Africa is a Country.