Programme: (Re)reading African Feminisms Colloquium 2017


Fine Arts Department

9h Registration 

9.30-9.50h Welcome and Opening – Thando Njovane (UCKAR)

10.10h-11h Keynote Address: Feminism as Pedagogy

Dr Danai Mupotsa (Wits University)


English Department Seminar Room

11-13h Women and Visual Arts

An African feminist conversation about the KhoiKhoi and San women in the Rock Art of South Africa – Beverly Barry (UCKAR)

Feminisms in Visual Culture; Un- silencing historically marginalized artists – Amy von Witt (UCKAR)

‘Defining ambiguity’: Theorising a politics of a ectivity in contem- porary South Africa through Mary Sibande’s ‘Sophie’– Erin de Kock (UCKAR)

Chair: Dr Sharlene Khan
Fine Arts Department Seminar Room

11-13h African Feminist Thought

A Stiwanist Study of Selected Works of Francophone Authors – Joy Joseph (UCKAR)

Womanism and Critical Method in African Diaspora Writing – Brendon Nicholls (Leeds)

The re-articulation of a holistic African female subjectivity in Koleka Putuma’s Collective Amnesia – Manthipe Moila (Rhodes)

Chair: Dr Betty Govinden

English Department Seminar Room

14-16h Intersectionality

Pompoms and Struggle Songs: The Limited Space for Feminism in #feesmustfall – Chelsey Wilken (Rhodes)

Towards a Decolonial Feminist Disability Studies for Southern Africa – Kharnita Mohamed (UCT)

Patriarchy Masked as Decoloniality: Problematizing ‘Decolonial’ Masculinist Critiques of Intersectionality – Marzia Milazzo (Rhodes/Vanderbijlt)

Chair: Dr Danai Mupotsa

Fine Arts Department Seminar Room

14-16h Alternative Spaces

The politics of erasure and exposure of the black female bodies in site- specific performances. Discussing Woman in a Passage (2014) –  Pumelela Nqelenga (UKZN)

Towards eradicating domestic violence in Nigeria: The peace education option – Chibuzor Nwobueze (Rivers State) and James Okolie-Osemene (Ibadan)

[Re]presenting Race, Rape and “white” justice: An auto-ethno- graphic study on the role of the Black female theatre-educator in Post-Madiba South Africa – Ayanda Khala-Phiri (UKZN)

Challenging sexism, misogyny and censorship: A search for alternative spaces for feminist discourses in Zimbabwe – Gibson Ncube (Stellenbosch)

Chair: Siphokazi Jonas


Fine Arts Department
16.15-18.15h Thinking Through, Talking Back: Creative theorisation as Sites of Praxis-Theory. An Art on our Mind creative dialogue between Dr Sharlene Khan, Prof Pumla Dineo Gqola, Dr Yvette Abrahams, Prof Neelika Jayawardane and Dr Betty Govinden
18.30 Launch of artist book ‘I Make Art’ by Dr Sharlene Khan 
Perfomance Poetry by Siphokazi Jonas and Betty Govinden
Exhibition: BEING HERE, BECOMING HER (curated by Refilwe Nkomo and Thato Mogotsi) in conversation with with UCKAR performances and artwork by Heidi Sincuba, Erin de Kock, Khwezi Zungu, Samkela Stampe and Akissi Beukman (co-curated by Buhle Siwendu and Sharlene Khan)


English Department Seminar Room

9-11h Labour

An intersectional analysis of work place discrimination in South African labour markets – Jamela Hoveni (Rhodes)

Perpetuation of female dependency syndrome in South Africa mirrors religious narratives: The case of Ruth –  Thembinkosi Twalo (HSRC)

The unfolding of African feminism in CODESRIA – Nimi Hoffmann (ISER)

Chair: Prof Pumla Gqola

Fine Arts Department Seminar Room

9-11h African Feminist Literary Readings

Demolishing the mountain within: Debunking patriarchy and self-reflexivity in African Women’s Writing – Susan Okpala (North-West)

Queering Domestic Space and Reproductive Time in Zöe Wicomb’s “Mrs Pringle’s Bed” – Jenny du Preez (Rhodes)

The Future of African Feminisms/ Miriam Makeba and Cosmo-existential Feminism – Palesa Mokoena (UCKAR)

Chair: Thando Njovane

English Department Seminar Room

11.15 Economics and Policy

South African foreign policy and its implications for feminist Inter- national Relations: the legacies of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Maite Nkoana-Mashabane – Siphokazi Magadla and Nica Cornell (Rhodes)

African Feminist Futures: Fashioning Life in a Neoliberal World – Miriam Kilimo (Emory)

Chair: Dr Yvette Abrahams

11.15-13.15h Imaging Women

Paw-Paw Politics: Lady Skollie and the Curating of Contradiction – Wamuwi Mbao (Stellenbosch)

Women in African Cinema: Female Identity on Screen – Lizelle Bisschof  (Glasgow)

Re-imagining African feminism through the Afro-futuristic lens – Tshepiso Maleswena (Wits)

The Message of Misogyny in Hip- Hop Music and its Gender Dynamics – Mamaputle Boikanyo (Rhodes)

Chair: Prof M.Neelika Jayawardane

English Department Seminar Room
14.15-15.15h  Sexuality

Looking at disruption within feminist and anti-rape activism – Gorata Chengeta (Wits)

Bisexuality in South Africa – Zuziwe Khuzwayo (HSRC)

Chair: Prof Pumla Gqola

Fine Arts Department Seminar Room

14.15-15.15h Life Writing

(Re)visiting writing raced queerness: a  fictocritical exploration of writing the race-d queer South African Womxn – Chantelle Croeser (Stellenbosch)

A song in the night: the feminist ordeals of Norah Mumba – Ranka Primorac (Southampton)

Ekhaya nasemzini: Negotiating home in Noni Jabavu’s life narratives Drawn in Colour: African Contrasts and the Ochre People – Athambile Masola (Pretoria)

Chair: Dr Lynda Spencer

Closing Remarks – Dr Lynda Gichanda Spencer

* This event is funded by Finding Africa, UCAPI, The Andrew Mellon Foundation, the National Research Foundation, Art on Our Mind Research Project and Rhodes University.

#Afems2017 Programme & Speakers


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For those of our followers who have been biding their time for the programme to the ‘Six Mountains on her Back’ : (Re)thinking African Feminisms Colloquium at Rhodes University of 21 and 22 July 2017, wait no longer. 

You can get the programme by clicking here: Afems programme_final_prin






Activities include a poetry session, exhibition, book launch, and panel with our special guests: Pumla Dineo Gqola, Betty Govendin, Neelika Jayawardene, Siphokazi Jonas, Yvette Abrahams, and Sharlene Khan.

But, wait, there’s more…


The Afems team looks forward to seeing you all at the event!

Postcolonial Afterlives & the Gendering of Empire: The Franco-African Experience


The final paper in our African Feminisms series entitled “Postcolonial Afterlives & the Gendering of Empire: The Franco-African Experience” will be presented by Claire Griffiths on 04 May at the LHRI Seminar Room 1 (5pm).

Entrance is free and admission is open to all.


This paper draws on evidence from the former French African Empire to argue that the struggle to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and girls in the former French African colonies has travelled a circuitous, even circular, path between the late 19th and the early 21st centuries, and that these regions are still confronting obstacles laid down a century ago. Starting from an understanding of the structures on which differentiation on the grounds of gender were embedded in the French imperial project, the paper moves on to the interwar period to highlight a uniquely radical moment in French colonial gender policy in Africa inspired by the coming to power of the French Popular front. When the regime fell on the eve of World War 2, the policy were buried. The paper compares the aspirations of a pre-war colonial regime with a postcolonial international development agenda and asks the question where has ‘progress’ been made? The paper draws on new data on the 2030 sustainable development goals for gender from countries in  west and central Africa which self-define as ‘francophone’, and from previously published work by notably Globalizing the Postcolony (Lexington 2011) which focuses on the millennium development goals in these countries La Famille en AOF: Condition de la femme (Harmattan, 2007), which explores the aspirations of the Popular front government’s gender policy for Africa in the 1930s.

About Claire Griffiths

Claire_H_GriffithsClaire Griffiths’ research in and on Francophone Africa during the postcolonial era began in Morocco where her work focused on political definitions and policy responses to development in relation to gender. Over the course of the next decade she completed several periods of research and writing in Senegal, Gabon, among other former French colonies in North and West Africa, while teaching in the French Department and researching at the WISE institute for the study of slavery and emancipation at the University  of Hull. She moved from Hull to Chester in 2009, where she served as head of Modern Languages for six years before taking on her present role as university chair in area studies. She is the author of Globalizing the Postcolony: contesting discourses of development and gender in Francophone Africa (Lexington Books 2011) and a number of books and articles in French and English on aspects of colonial and postcolonial politics, culture, discourse and gender policy in the French-speaking areas of Africa.  Her most recent project, Challenging Discourses of Development is focusing on cultural responses in and from francophone Africa to the challenges confronting postcolonial nations in this region of the world.

Contact Prof. C H Griffiths, University of Chester,

Womanism in Contemporary African Feminism


The next seminar paper in our African Feminisms series will be delivered by Joanita Mireme Lwanga and is entitled “Womanism in Contemporary African Feminism”. The seminar will take place on 06 April at the LHRI seminar room 1 at 5pm. The event is free and open to all.


In most African fables, oral literature, culture and tradition an African woman is highly revered and respected. A mother in the community one dares not talk back or upset her.
Most African cultures believe being disrespectful to the African woman, equates to being cursed for life. African women have always spoken out and their stories have been passed on. This message is reinforced by Ogundipe- Leslie who decries simplistic false images and depiction of the African woman. She maintains that the problem is the refusal of scholars to search for African women’s voices.

The African woman on a contemporary platform is faced with a wider dilemma of justifying herself to the world as she is, as opposed to the historical image on her. In the diaspora she faces an even more complex relationship with regard to identification, imagery and projection. Diasporan feminism is rooted in the historical experience of enslavement and racism. Conflicting images of assimilation in the diaspora have led many an African woman to alter their image to an exterior superficiality using appendages such as fake hair, skin lighteners, accents and fashion sense. Outwardly the African woman objectively alters her image, whilst battling the truth of ‘self’ on the inside; lost in a world that has rules and parameters already conscripted to exclude, unless one assimilates. This paper explores a journey of the definition of African feminism in the diaspora, whether one can afford to be African and feminist whilst towing the intricate line of assimilation and conformism.

About Joanita Mirembe Lwanga

imageA mother, daughter, sister and friend, holds a Master’s degree in Globalization, Development and Transition from the University of Westminster UK and a Bachelor’s degree in Literature, Psychology and Linguistics from Makerere University Uganda. Founded and currently the president of the Fight Against AIDS (FAA) Society now a fully registered company limited by guarantee in the UK, with global partners in Africa, Europe and America, bringing together university students plus various partners all over the world to help curb and prevent HIV/AIDS. Highly experienced and involved in volunteering for minority and youth related initiatives in the UK and East Africa. Experienced executive and an expert on the Uganda private non-state health sector; served as Uganda Healthcare Federation (UHF) Executive Director a USAID funded project between October 2013 – December 2014. Currently working on a historical compilation of experiences as an African woman, from journals dating twenty years back on both sides of the hemisphere.

Mossane and Djanta: Intersections of Feminism with Ethnic Identity



The next seminar in our African Feminisms series is entitled “Mossane (Safi Faye, 1997) and Djanta (Tahirou Tasséré Ouédraogo, 2006): Intersections of Feminism with Ethnic Identity” and will be presented by Monika Kukolova on 09 March 2017 at 5pm in LHRI Seminar Room 1. Entrance is free and all are welcome.



In this paper, I would like to acknowledge why it is important to discuss intersections of ethnic identity and feminism in the films, Mossane (Safi Faye, 1997) and Djanta (Tahirou Tasséré Ouédraogo, 2006). Some films set within the ethnic groups of West Africa may show somewhat oppressive environments that rely on patriarchal values and female protagonists are often limited in their life choices by the community’s perception of marriage as a woman’s ultimate purpose. Even when they get married, the role of authority in women’s lives passes from their father to their husband. Although there is definitely a case to be made about the oppression of women among some ethnic groups, it would be unfair to summarise all ethnic identities as inherently patriarchal. More contextual analysis is needed to clarify the motivations behind what appears to be a system skewed towards the benefit of men rather than women. Furthermore, the generalisation of these ethnic groups as entirely patriarchal risks putting the women of the group into a position of resigned subservience. The female characters are, mostly, far from subservient but they also have respect for ethnic culture, their elders and the well-being of their community. This leads to inevitable clashes within the community but also within women themselves. I will offer a close analysis of the two films, in order to find out how these two films consolidate ethnic cultures with African feminisms and whether they succeed in doing so.

About Monika Kukolova


Monika Kukolova is a third year PhD student at the University of Manchester. Her thesis focuses on representations of ethnic identity in contemporary West African cinema with special attention paid to the roles of kinship, religion and patriarchal attitudes in these representations. Other research interests include representations of race and ethnicity in mainstream cinema and cinematic adaptations of novels about race and ethnicity.

The Birth of ‘New’ Materialism? Abortion and Southern African Women’s Writing

UntitledThe next seminar in our African Feminisms series will be a paper by Caitlin Stobie entitled “The Birth of ‘New’ Materialism? Abortion and Southern African Women’s Writing”. The seminar will take place on 27 February 2017 in the Leeds Humanities Research Institute (LHRI)  seminar room 1 at 5pm. Entrance is free and all are welcome.


In her preface to Opening Spaces: Contemporary African Women’s Writing (1999), Zimbabwean author Yvonne Vera recalls a scene from Haile Gerima’s Sankofa wherein a pregnant woman’s corpse mysteriously gives birth after she is whipped to death (1). At the conclusion of her commentary, she returns to the theme of fertility by proclaiming that the authors of the collected stories are “witnesses, in that seemingly impossible birth” of African feminist fiction (5). Yet throughout Opening Spaces, it is the fear of maternity which recurs for those living in rural and urban environments previously colonised by the British ‘motherland’. Tracing tropes of abortion through selected stories written during the ‘birth’ of postcolonial southern African nations in the late twentieth century, this paper considers feminist responses to the shifting relationship between corporeal embodiment and political agency. The writers in this study focus on environments not as essentialised settings, but rather as interconnected and organic systems; creative forms which manifest in these stories include human, animal, vegetal, elemental or textual participants in ecosystems. In this respect, the writers appear to anticipate new materialist theories – particularly the concept of trans-corporeality, which states that human and more-than-human bodies are all enmeshed actors that constitute the environment (Alaimo 2010: 2). Paradoxically, however, they also trouble such purportedly ‘new’ theories by complicating the long history of environmental health and reproductive rights in post/colonial contexts. Illustrating how natural symbolism interacts with the artifice of narrative form, such fictions create spaces for complex, ambivalent perspectives on women’s agency to emerge.

About Caitlin Stobie

Caitlin Stobie1 small.png

Caitlin Stobie is a PhD candidate at the University of Leeds, where she is co-director of the Leeds Animal Studies Network. Her research interests include postcolonial ecocriticism, posthumanism and critical animal studies. She has been published, or has work forthcoming, in Green Letters (2017), Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment (2017) and scrutiny2 (2016).

African Feminisms CFP 2016/17

African feminisms have, from the beginning, been grounded in an inclusive and intersectional discourse which seeks to challenge and unravel patriarchal, political, existential, and philosophical imbalances in society. As such they have been instrumental in bringing into question some of the ‘blind spots’ and prejudices embedded in Western feminisms. In light of current debates on decolonisation and the continued interest in intersectional politics in the global sphere, Finding Africa invites researchers to propose papers which centre on the theme of African feminisms in any field of the humanities.

Accepted submissions from the UK will comprise the lineup of the next round of seminars co-hosted with the University of Leeds’ Centre for African Studies (LUCAS) in 2017. A second call for submissions from South Africa will be made shortly.

Topics of interest include (but are not limited to):

Intersectionality and African Feminisms

Womanism in Contemporary African Feminism

The Future of African Feminisms

Human Rights and African Feminism

African Feminisms and Curricula

Contemporary African Feminisms

African Feminisms in the West

Philosophy and African Feminisms

African Feminist Manifestos

The Psychology of African Feminisms

African Feminist Literature

African Feminisms and Disability

Guide for authors:

All submissions should be 250 word abstracts in Word format emailed to  by 20 November 2016.

*For further details on our activities, click on the seminars section on the main menu*

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