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In a recent interview published on blackafricanwoman.org, Zimbabwean novelist and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangaremgba speaks candidly about the struggles that African women face in their attempt to set up creative projects or run businesses.

Asked about the hurdles she’s had to overcome as an Africa woman, she responds with a hard-hitting criticism of patriarchy and its exclusion of African women from access to capital—a condition she terms “financial apartheid.”

Dangaremgba is a successful novelist and acclaimed filmmaker, so we know her take on creativity and entrepreneurship is based on decades of experience and in-depth knowledge.

We hope this gets people talking about the need to get more support for women-run creative initiatives. We also hope it moves us to celebrate those African women who are already making a mark in spite all the odds stacked up against them.

Below is an excerpt of the interview.

Rumbi Dube: What is the greatest hurdle you have had to overcome as an African woman?

Tsitsi Dangarembga: The greatest hurdle I have had to overcome as an African woman is lack of access to resources to maximize on my abilities, skills and achievements. Sometimes this hurdle manifests socially because society tells you that a black woman can only do this or this but not that. When society makes that decree, there is little to no support when you as a black woman opt to do the thing society has indicated you should not do.

This can even begin in the home as you grow up, because most of our families are patriarchal, this includes our mothers.  Many of us have had patriarchal mothers. I am glad to see some change in this respect, but there is still a long way to go.  At other times the hurdle is material, for example, when I have no access to resources, such as land and buildings to realise a dream that needs to go further.  At yet other times the hurdle is lack of access to human resources because men or political parties or patriarchal women – of which there are many – may not support your excellence.  The hurdle is also financial since, generally, as a black African woman, you are excluded from capital.

As a black African woman on the continent, you are generally relegated to donor aid and this donor aid is usually tied to political or another form of power.  It is also predicated on a world view that sees Africa as a continent of peasants who need to be saved.  So if you are not grass roots, and do not need to be saved, but need to be empowered to fly, you seldom qualify for donor aid.  I call this financial apartheid This brings me to the last hurdle in that the cumulative outcome of all these other hurdles is that one’s ability to contribute to one’s community and society is seriously compromised.    

— Read full interview HERE

 

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Post image by @efie41209591 via Twitter

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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