Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 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: , , , , , ,

About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young, writer and journalist, is Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. 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 has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies and English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He 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

Bernardine Evaristo: Your Guide to All Eight Books by the Booker Prize Winner

bernardine evaristo by jennie scott - graph

While better known in the African literary scene as the founder of the massively influential Brunel International African Poetry Prize, […]

TJ Benson’s Forthcoming Novel, The Madhouse, Follows a Troubled Family Across Four Decades

tj benson - graph

The Nigerian writer TJ Benson has a new novel set to be published by Masobe Books in 2020. A new […]

The Guardian UK Criticized for Headline Calling Bernardine Evaristo’s Booker Prize-winning Novel Obscure

bernardine evaristo - girl, woman, other - somethingbookish

Right after Bernardine Evaristo and Margaret Atwood were announced joint winners of the 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction, the UK’s […]

Bernardine Evaristo’s Joint Win of the Booker Prize, with Margaret Atwood, Makes Her the First Black Woman & Second Nigerian to Receive the Honour

bernardine evaristo by jennie scott - graph

The Nigerian-British novelist Bernardine Evaristo has been awarded the 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction, for her novel Girl, Woman, Other, […]

The Queen of Dahomey: Episode Three | The Witches of Auchi Series | Anthony Azekwoh

5F1614B1-66B7-4191-94D8-30BD62A651A9

There was an old woman with a ragged scar on her cheek who lived alone on the outskirts of Dahomey. […]

Befeqadu Hailu, Ethiopian Writer-Activist & Co-founder of Zone 9 Blog, Named 2019 International Writer of Courage

Befeqadu Hailu with Lemn Sissay at PEN Pinter Prize ceremony Photo credit to George Torode

Befeqadu Hailu, the Ethiopian writer, activist, and co-founder of the Amharic-language human rights platform Zone 9 Blogging Collective, has been […]

Thanks for signing up!

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

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.