SAFARI NJEMA

November 16, 2019

"Couldn't there be more intercultural exchange OUR way?"

November 13, 2019

Who talks about refugees in Tanzania, and what do they say?

November 10, 2019

#SudanUprising in Copenhagen

June 23, 2019

On 26 June I moderate talks & debate on #SudanUprising in #Copenhagen.

The Sudanese artist Khalid Albaih joins via Skype.

Kindly read Khalid's article a...

Update: Everyday Poetics: Instagramming Life in East Africa in Belgrade

April 26, 2019

PHOTO EXHIBITION: EVERYDAY POETICS - INSTAGRAMMING EAST AFRICA

April 12, 2019

Owl in Tanzanian Parliament - bad omen for freedom of speech and assembly.

January 30, 2019

On 29 January, when the Tanzanian Parliament (Bunge) was assembled in Dodoma, an owl flew in and watched the assembly. The owl is seen in Tanzanian (e...

''We've died''

January 22, 2019

Bikozulu tells the stories of the people making it through last week's terror attack in Nairobi.

See the Instagram post here

If you ask me, and someti...

FILM: Wakamba Forever

January 21, 2019

Colonianism revisited:

..''a hilarious take on Masaku and McMillan’s first encounter set in the 21st century. From a dramatic re-telling of the Kamba o...

Chuchu: ''We are not the audience. We are the story''.

January 20, 2019

Two important tweet threads (see below) which take point of departure in the New York Times coverage of the Riverside terror attack on 15 January 2019...

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We feminise Africa. Male writers go inside. So, are female writers penetrated by Africa?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

 

A while ago the Danish writer Carsten Jensen wrote an outstanding review of Jakob Ejersbos Tanzania triology in the Danish daily Dagbladet Information. Read it here.

 

Ejersbo is a favourite writer of mine. And I have started reading his Tanzania books over again.

In the above mentioned review, at one point, Carsten Jensen writes:

 

'Men der er en endnu vigtigere forskel: Karen Blixen var kvinde, Jakob Ejersbo mand. Blixen har nok ikke været i seng med nogen af sine afrikanske protegéer. De vidende erotiske skildringer i Liberty, der i deres intensitet og påtrængende detaljerigdom næppe overgås i dansk litteratur, lader ingen tvivl, om Ejersbo også her havde gjort sin research grundigt. Han har bogstaveligt talt været inde i Afrika.'

 

My translation: 'But there is an even more important difference: Karen Blixen was a woman. Jakob Ejersbo was a man. Blixen probably didn't have sex with any of her African protegees. The knowlegdable erotic descriptions in Liberty, which in their intensity and intrusive detail hardly surpassed in Danish literature, leave no doubt that Ejersbo here also had done his research thoroughly. He has literally been into/inside Africa'.

 

It made me wonder - not only about Carsten Jensen's choice of metaphor, but also of the Tanzanian context and of female and male writers in Africa: What if Karen Blixen had actually had sex with African men? What if Ejersbo wasn't a man, but a woman, would Carsten Jensen then have said 'Africa had been inside her'? And what difference would that make?

 

We feminise Africa. Africa is the motherland. Men are the active, while women wait, endure receive, and are penetrated. In Kiswahili you're married as a woman, while a man marries you (kuoa/kuolewa). And, yes, Kiswahili does offer more rude verbs when it comes to sex, which builds on who is the active and the passive.

 

But do also take colonisers, missionaries and explorers (men, active) who did not only go 'inside women', they also went 'bara la Afrika' - inside the territory of Africa. The dynamics are simply coded in Swahili, and no amount of travel to Western worlds can cancel out these fundamental ideas about gender/power/sex/dynamics.

 

However, if you start from the premise of this assumption that a male writer can 'know Africa' because he's 'gone deep inside', can you also pose the same question for a woman what it is like to research as a writer, to take it all in?

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PhD Student, MA in African Studies, journalist and former development worker. Heart tilted towards the Balkans & East Africa: Refugees, Peripheries, Imaginaries & Humanitarianism