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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

A New Online African Feminist Quarterly: The Wide Margin


Last night, I came across this fascinating online African feminist journal, and I just had to share. The Wide Margin describes itself as: 
'a new online quarterly collection of essays which focus on discussion and critical thought about social, economic, political and cultural issues through a feminist lens.' 
The first issue was published at the beginning of the month with the editorial, Feminist While African, explaining how The Wide Margin:
'seeks to imagine living a feminist life while African, thinking and creating through and beyond the work already done by the many feminists working in East Africa, and Africa as a whole as well as its disapora.'
I knew I was going to like this journal the second I saw the tagline 'Feminist While African', but as I read the Editorial, I couldn't help but think that this was a space that could discuss some of the issues I constantly struggle with as a young Black/Nigerian/African Feminist:
"'Feminist While African" explores how we (Africans) have come to understand feminism, how we are involved (or not) in feminism, how we interact with feminism, and how we have learned and continue to learn about feminism."
Of course it obviously helped, that female writers got a shout out for the way their novels were 'written with fierce female voices'. 
'In the past 5 years, feminist discourse has exploded online ... and especially on social media as well as in the street. Women and feminist-allied men are continuously positively discussing policy and legislative issues affecting women as well as the labour of living with everyday sexism ... Recent novels like the Folio Prize nominated, Dust, by Caine Prize winner, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Kenya), Kintu, by Commonwealth Prize winner, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (Uganda), Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, are written with fierce female voices and imagine new ways of African women inhabiting the modern world. 
The first issue 'explores a diverse range of perspectives on learning, (mis)understanding and practising feminism; from embracing our defiance of how we are expected to be, to how we became to be feminists, to how we relate to each other as feminists.' What's there not to love!!!!!

In addition to the Editorial, there are six essays and a cartoon. Unfemiliar Territory explores feminism from the perspective of a man in the process of educating himself about the movement. I love that The Wide Margin is involving men in its discussion and its use of comics to do so. At work, one of the projects I work on is related to engaging men in addressing sexual and gender-based violence, and one of the things I am currently trying to do this year is to produce a series of blog posts related to men's engagement in this field (trying to move beyond 20,000 word reports - for this one output, at least), where each series has a guest editor who writes a short piece on a topic of their interest, which we send around to hopefully get diverse perspectives on the issue. Maybe it's my bias towards blogging, but cartoons, blog posts, social media and the likes are great ways to ensure issues are being discussed in formats that are more accessible to a wider variety of audiences.



As for the essays, they  include, 'The Political is the Personal', where Sara Salem goes beyond presenting 'an individualistic account of [her] feminist journey' and instead discusses some of the 'broader debates within feminism ... that have been central to many feminists [and] feminist movement.' As well as Nyaboe Makiya, who in 'African Woman Seeks Feminism for Survival', explores how the role feminism played in her ability to think critically about how and why as a woman she behaved, and was treated, a certain way by society and men. She ends by asserting that:
'As a woman, feminism is essential for me not only to survive, but to thrive as a human being.'
Anyways, if it wasn't clear by now, I'm saying check out The Wide Margin. The essays are honest and relatable, the writing is beautiful. and the accompanying illustrations (which I'm really loving) also add to the narratives from the essay.

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