Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 3,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Mukoma wa Ngugi. Image from author’s website.

Mukoma wa Ngugi is one of our clearest thinkers. His new book, The Rise of the African Novel: Politics of Language, Identity and Ownership (University of Michigan Press, 2018), an exploration of foundational developments on the African literary scene, tackles essential questions of African literary traditions and generations. In a new interview with Quartz, he talks about masculinity and its problems, his identity as a feminist, the need for more men to be aware of gender inequality and varying gender experiences, and the interconnectedness of political, social, and economic struggles.

The professor of English at Cornell University also listed books he believes can help men understand gender inequality better: Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis; Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi; Kindred by Octavia Bulter; Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde; Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur; This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color edited by Gloria E. Anzaldúa and Cherríe L. Moraga; and essays: “The Women’s Liberation and Gay Liberation Movements” by Huey P. Newton, “Sexual Assault: When You’re on the Margins: Can We All Say #MeToo?” by Collier Meyerson, and “The Emancipation of Women” by Thomas Sankara. He further recommends Minna Salami’s blog Ms Afropolitan and her forthcoming book, Sensuous Knowledge: A Radical Black Feminist Approach For Everyone.

Here is an excerpt from the interview.

3. What do you do on a daily basis to advance gender equality?

As a scholar and writer, I have made a conscious choice to make sure that feminist thought runs throughout my teaching, writing and scholarly work. I teach a course, “Race, Class, Gender and Violence in the Enlightenment,” in which we look at the Enlightenment as a contradiction—on the one hand it makes the French Revolution possible, but at the same time gives racism and sexism philosophical cover. Last semester I co-taught a course on African women writers. In my latest work, The Rise of the African Novel, I show the through-line from early South African writers in the late 19th century to contemporary writers like NoViolet Bulawayo. And in my novels, say Nairobi Heat, women for better or worse are at the center. Muddy in the detective novel Nairobi Heat is a former Rwanda guerrilla war fighter turned spoken-word artist turned co-detective. In Mrs. Shaw, the women are co-main characters. Like Muddy, Melissa, a Puerto Rican radical nationalist, is an artist, a painter.

But I would like to add that I do not think it is enough to include women as feminists in my teaching and writing. It is important to show they are multifaceted. For example, Mary Wollstonecraft, best known for the Vindication of Women’s Rights, also wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Men on the French Revolution and was anti-slavery, an abolitionist (in a sense a practicing intersectionalism albeit also flawed). Or today Angela Davis, whose seminal work, Women, Race, and Class, is a critique of white feminism, racism, and capitalism, but she also works on abolishing the prison-industrial complex, class oppression, and unjust American foreign policies.

6. What is your biggest anxiety about being a man?

That in some ways I am irreversibly damaged by the demands of masculinity. By that, I mean that it surely must take a toll on ones’ psyche to constantly emotionally self-circuit, that as men we are emotionally stunted and hence unable to have full empathy for others. So, as a man with an eight-year-old daughter, how I do bring her up in such a way that she has full emotional expression if I do not have it? If cannot model it myself?

Read the full interview on Quartz.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

On Black and Arab Identities: Safia Elhillo’s Arab American Book Awards Acceptance Speech

Safia Elhillo - tcb book club (2)

Safia Elhillo has won the 2018 Arab American Book Award, also known as the George Ellenbogen Poetry Award, for her […]

Attend the Second Edition of the Write with Style Workshop with Oris Aigbokhaevbolo

Oris Aigbokhaevbolo (2)

Following the first edition of the Write With Style Workshop, the award-winning writer, critic, and journalist Oris Aigbokhaevbolo is hosting […]

Ngugi’s Novel, Matigari, Is Being Adapted to Film by Nollywood Director Kunle Afolayan

Kenyan author Ngugi wa ThiongÕo, Distinguished Professor of English and comparative literature at UC Irvine, is on the short list for the 2010 Nobel Prize in literature, for xxx(add phrase or blurb here from award announcement; 

Chancellor quote? Christine writing and getting approved quote).

Ngugi, whose name is pronounced ÒGoogyÓ and means Òwork,Ó is a prolific writer of novels, plays, essays and childrenÕs literature. Many of these have skewered the harsh sociopolitical conditions of post-Colonial Kenya, where he was born, imprisoned by the government and forced into exile.

His recent works have been among his most highly acclaimed and include what some consider his finest novel, ÒMurogi wa KagogoÓ (ÒWizard of the CrowÓ), a sweeping 2006 satire about globalization that he wrote in his native Gikuyu language. In his 2009 book ÒSomething Torn & New: An African Renaissance,Ó Ngugi argues that a resurgence of African languages is necessary to the restoration of African wholeness.

ÒI use the novel form to explore issues of wealth, power and values in society and how their production and organization in society impinge on the quality of a peopleÕs spiritual life,Ó he has said.

Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s 1987 novel Matigari is being adapted to film by Nollywood director Kunle Afolayan in a co-production with yet undisclosed Kenyan […]

Safia Elhillo Makes a Fashion Statement at the Arab American Book Awards

Safia Elhillo - tcb book club (2)

From Taiye Selasi’s dreamy designer collections and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s flayed ankara sleeves and Dior collaboration to Alain Mabanckou’s dapper […]

Read Chapter One of Nuruddin Farah’s New Novel, North of Dawn

nuruddin farah boundary2.org

Celebrated Somali writer Nuruddin Farah’s new novel will be out on 4 December 2018. The 384-page North of Dawn—described as “a provocative, […]

#WeLoveBooks | Feeling and Ugly by Danai Mupotsa

welovebooks (6)

Welcome back to our weekly updates on new book finds. Feeling and Ugly by Danai Mupotsa is a gem. Feeling […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.