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."

In the final week of women’s history month, we are celebrating a writer whose work has inspired us for years.

Minna Salami’s debut Sensuous Knowledge: A Black Feminist Approach for Everyone offers an Africa-centered, woman-centered, and black feminist approach to everything from power to beauty to womanhood to liberation. The book is fresh off the press—out in the UK last week (in the US, in a few days).

The book helps us understand what is feminist and vital about African philosophies of power and embodiment. It excavates African cosmologies, history, and art for ideas on rethinking the body, beauty, power, womanhood, and more.

Minna Salami is a Nigerian-Finish writer who in the past few years has become a global voice for feminism. Some of you may know her as @MsAfrpolitan, her Instagram handle and the name of her influential feminist blog. With this book, she’s taken everything we love about her writing and her online presence and made it into a powerful study on how to enrich life by working with black and feminist knowledge systems.

The book is based on something Salami calls “sensuous knowledge.” One thing to know going into the book is that the “sensuous” in sensuous knowledge doesn’t really mean sensual.

To be clear, Salami has no issues whatsoever with sensuality. In fact, the book contains insightful arguments for the erotic. At some point, she calls the vagina a “poetic organ,” so you get the picture.

That said, sensuous knowledge is something different. It is the idea that knowledge is embodied. Knowledge is not this airy, immaterial thing that we capture in calculations, binaries, and immutable laws. Knowledge is mind, but it is also body. Knowledge lies in the full use of all our senses.

Knowing sensuously, thus, helps you think inclusively. It opens you up to the power in blending the “imaginative and rational, the quantifiable and the immeasurable, the intellectual and the emotional” as opposed to living in that cold, hard, often non-humane space of reason and calculations. That is why thinking sensuously is fundamentally feminist. It undermines the rigid binaries of abstract thinking that force women and men to reproduce oppressive relationships of power.

Sensuous Knowledge offers avenues for escaping the male/female, mind/body, black/white, God/Man, Right/wrong, culture/nature dualities that continues to simplify our world in ways that are particularly damaging to black women.

One of many things we love about the book is the fact that it is addressed to everybody. Like Bell Hooks in Feminism is for Everybody, which Salami engages with, and Chimamanda Adichie in We Should All Be Feminists, Salami has a universal gospel to spread.

Feminism is not a niche politics. An ideal based on the safety, empowerment, and wellbeing of women cannot be reduced to partisan sentiments. It is the stuff of life. It is the air we breath.

So even though Salami is asking deep philosophical questions, her allegiance is not to philosophers but to any thinking person with a mind to engage with feminist ideas in a uniquely empowering way.

 

Another really cool thing about reading this book is that it truly feels like listening in on conversations among your black feminist faves. Salami conjures so many powerful voices —Audre Lorde, Toni Morisson, Bell Hooks, Beyonce, Patricia Hill Collins, Alice Walker, Chimamanda Adichie, Sophie Bosede Oluwole, Angela Davis, Lauryn Hill, Adelaide Casely-Hayford, and many more.

Click here to start reading with us!

Tags: , , ,

Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

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

Memento, New Anthology Edited by Adedayo Agarau, Collects Notable Voices in Contemporary Nigerian Poetry 

memento, edited by adedayo agarau - graph

The American publisher Animal Heart Press has released an anthology of Nigerian poetry. Titled Memento: An Anthology of Contemporary Nigerian […]

Join Down River Road Magazine’s Virtual Book Club, Currently Reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez | #drrbookclub

Down river road magazine - Reading Marquez

down river road, the new Nairobi-based magazine exploring the alternative in literature, music, and visual art, has launched an online […]

The 8 Writers & Journalists on OkayAfrica’s 100 Women List 2020

OkayAfrica 100 Women 2020 graph

OkayAfrica has released its 2020 “100 Women” list celebrating “extraordinary women from Africa and the diaspora making waves across a […]

Submit to WriteNow Magazine 3rd Edition on the Theme of Quarantine

Untitled design - 2020-04-07T221926.074

WriteNow is a creative writing NGO that was founded in 2017 by Nigerian writer and poet Kehinde Badiru. In partnership […]

Highlights from the Afrolit Sans Frontières Virtual Literary Festival

Untitled design - 2020-04-07T221250.583

In this interminable era of social distancing, social media has emerged not only as a network for writers and creators […]

Read Teju Cole’s Ravishingly Imagined, COVID-19-inspired Fable of a Mysterious City  

Teju Cole photo

Teju Cole is on top of his game in a new, Coronavirus-inspired short story published on LEVEL, a publication hosted […]

Thanks for signing up!

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

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.