Just like any known field of work, there is a spring of females who are beginning to ascend to heights previously unimagined. The writing industry is no different; with many women breaking the “glass ceiling” and embracing the advent of opportunities, stories have begun to take a different meaning and tone. Could this be the time when neutral writing comes into play? A change in perspective and a shift in mind set is inevitable, but just like any industry or field, women writers are facing their own plethora of challenges. It is suffice to acknowledge the amount of determination and devotion it takes for women to reach the levels they have reached, and like the South African women used to say during apartheid, “wathindiabafazi, wathingiimbocqodo”.
It is very easy for society to blame culture and norms, and men for the demise of women writers; but we should note that there is an institution that transcends individuals at play. This institution favours male writers over female writers and gives a more powerful societal voice to the men as compared to the women. This institution forces women to give in to men who make sexual demands of them in order to establish their careers. This is the same institution that forced (in the West, back then) writers like the Bronte Sisters (Bell Brothers), J.K. Rowling (Robert Galbraith), and Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin (George Sand) to use male pseudonyms when publishing their masterpieces for fear of criticism. Though the world has moved on, the fact that the African writing circle is dominated by men makes it as equally hard to manoeuvre as the western writing industry of old.
There is an old saying, “until the lion learns to write, each story will glorify the hunter”. The truth of the statement lies in that it boldly says what most are afraid to say, “your story can only be true if told by you.” TsitsiDangarebga’s Nervous Condition was rejected by 4 African publishers because they believed that it negatively portrayed the lives of African women. It could be argued that the publishers were right, because after reading nervous conditions your view of African Women changes, but was the book a lie? They didn’t state that the book lied about African women, it was the perception they feared. Sad that in a world which seeks truth, perception is still a yardstick far better that enlightenment. Writers like TsitsiDangarembga, BuchiEmecheta, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and AminattaForna have not only shown a light on the lives of African women, but they have propelled the agenda of African feminism, informed a generation and inspired a rising force that seeks out and deals with inequality.
African Women writers are everywhere and anywhere, but when has a war ever been worn by a divided and scattered people. There will be many more women who write, but for us to know of the greatness of Nehanda, the great Queen of Sheba, Yaa Asantewaa, we need the stories to be told from a perspective of understanding. There are many organizations and units of women who are coming up and coming together in order to give each other platforms to be read. In this day of polarized media, it can also be said that women writers should build their rapport not on conformism, but rather on truth, impartiality and neutrality. Just like an African man carries the weight of the continent when at an event full of whites, it is also true to say women writes carry the weight of the stories of all African women in a world dominated by African man and their perspective and ideologies. The story of the African woman writer is the story of African feminism and emancipation, one cannot be complete without the other and until that bandwagon that propels the story moves as one, then the story will never blossom. It is the duty of African women writers to usher in the new Africa, together.
VARAIDZO AUDREY MUTSVIRI is an Electrical Engineering Major at Ashesi University. A writer, feminist, political and Human Rights activist. I am also interested in gender issues, and technology. Women empowerment is my lifelong passion.
*WOMAWORDS LITERARY PRESS CURATOR*
MBIZO CHIRASHA is (ihraf.org) 2019 International Fellow of the International Human Rights Arts Festival New York. 2018Recipient of Global Literary Influencer Certificate of Merit by Directorio Mundial de Escritores through Academia Mundial de Literatura, Historia, Arte y Cultura http://directoriomundial.allimo.org/Mbizo-Chirasha/. Vice President of POETS OF THE WORLD in Africa poetasdelmundo.com. 2017 Recipient of PEN Deutschland Exiled Writer Grant.2017 Recipient of the EU-Horn of Africa Defend Human Rights Defenders Protection Fund. Curator of the Brave Voices Poetry Journal, miombopublishing.wordpress.com, Editor of the WomaWords Literary Press, https://womawordsliterarypress.home.blog/, Resident Curator of 100 Thousand Poets for Peace-Zimbabwe , 100tpc.org/Zimbabwe and the Originator of Zimbabwe We Want Poetry Movement. me.facebook.com/mbizochirasha.Co-Editor of the STREET VOICE a German Africa Poetry collection, http://www.street-voice.de/SV7/SVissue7.html in Germany . Contributor Atunis Galatika,https://atunispoetry.com/2018/11/23/mbizo-chirasha-zimbabwe/, Belgium. African Contributor of Demer press poetry series since 2018 , Netherlands, http://www.hannierouweler.eu/category/demer-press/.Contributor of the International Gallerie 2019 in India, https://www.gallerie.net/about-us/.Essays contributor for the MONK art and soul Magazine 2019, http://monk.gallery/category/essays/, United Kingdom.African Contributor of the World Poetry Almanac series, https://openlibrary.org/authors/OL816823A/WORLD_POETRY_ALMANAC in Mongolia.Featured in the POIESISI Slovenia International literature Press , https://www.poiesis.si/, Slovenia.
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