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Zukiswa Wanner.

Zukiswa Wanner has called out misogyny in South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe, taking on politicians and the media in the three countries. In an essay in Mail & Guardian, titled “Three Countries. Three Heartbreaks. One Week,” she writes: “I have had this feeling that I live on a continent that harbours a deep hatred for those of my gender.”

This is coming in a week in which one of Kenya’s first female governors, Charity Ngilu, was threatened by a member of the country’s parliament, Nimrod Mbai, who said that “Charity Ngilu should be raped in her office if she doesn’t drop her hard political stance against Uhuru Kenyatta.” In South Africa meanwhile, a woman was arrested and given bail of R500 for stabbing three men who raped her daughter. And in Zimbabwe, “children as young as nine who are victims of sexual abuse” were described by the media as “child prostitutes.” Zukiswa Wanner’s father is South African, her mother Zimbabwean, and she currently lives in Kenya.

Read the essay.

*

More than once, I have had this feeling that I live on a continent that harbours a deep hatred for those of my gender. And if I was lulled for a minute to think otherwise, three incidences last week in three countries I consider home in one way or another reinforced this view.

In Kenya, I was reminded that it does not matter how high up you are, there will always be a man who will decide to put you in your place with threats of violence. Charity Ngilu, veteran politician, former presidential candidate, former Cabinet secretary and one of the first three women to be elected to the office of governor in last month’s elections, is at the receiving end of threats.

A first-term MP for the governing Jubilee Party in the county she now governs, Nimrod Mbai, the MP for Kitui East, threatened: “Charity Ngilu should be raped in her office if she doesn’t drop her hard political stance against Uhuru Kenyatta.”

Anywhere else, this would be considered the sort of offence that would force someone to resign and be prosecuted. Not so in today’s Kenya. The statutory body tasked with the prosecution of hate speech, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, has, at the time of writing, neither pushed for his prosecution nor uttered a word of criticism. For the next five years then, this despicable man is one of the people who will be responsible for voting on Bills that are supposed to protect and safeguard all people in the Kenya.

Back in my father’s land, a mother stabs three men, one of them fatally, for raping her 27-year-old daughter. She gets arrested and is given bail of R500. The fact that this poor woman has had to resort to violence to counter the violence being meted against her daughter is heartbreaking. More so, as reports suggest, these three men are repeat offenders but have previously got away with a “talking to”.

My fear is that, given the way this continent, including the judiciary, seems to harbour such a deep hatred for women, the mother is more likely to get a prison term than the young men who committed the crime of rape. I hope that will not happen but, either way, both the mother and the daughter will need some serious counselling.

And, as South Africans continue to ask hard questions, we seriously have to go beyond questions and find some concrete solutions.

From my mother’s country, Zimbabwe, there is a recording of children as young as nine who are victims of sexual abuse.

The media disturbingly calls them “child prostitutes”. Paid 25c for a single round of sexual abuse and two dollars at most for the whole night, the children recount harrowing tales in voices devoid of emotion.

Read the full essay HERE.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review ("Mulumba," 2016), Transition ("A Tenderer Blessing," 2015), and in an anthology of the Gerald Kraak Award ("You Sing of a Longing," 2017), for which he was shortlisted. His work has further been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2016 and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. His conversations appear in Africa in Dialogue, Bakwa, SPRINNG, and Dwartonline. He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. The first, Enter Naija: The Book of Places (October 2016), focuses on Nigerian cities. The second, Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (June 2017), focuses on professions in Nigeria. Born in Aba, he combined history and literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is currently completing a postgraduate programme in African Studies, and teaches English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. When bored, he just Googles Rihanna.

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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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