Lessons from ‘Feminism’

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BY Alexander Opicho

Literature on feminism and domestic politics in Africa has been known to be a preserve of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, but things seem to be taking a new direction, with the release of a new anthology of essays on feminism in February.

Edited by Jen Thorpe and published by Kwela Books in South Africa, the title of the anthology is Feminism – a collection of essays that assembles writings by over thirty African feminists who lovingly and insightfully dissect every aspect of feminist ideals and the politics they inspire.

Thorpe is a published poet, and is well-known in the African literary community for her novel, “The Peculiars”, which was long-listed for the 2016 Etisalat Prize for Literature. She is known for her commitment to engendering conversations and reflection on issues that are most pressing for women today.

In this anthology, the concept, from multiple perspectives – motherhood, joy, feminist inclusions and exclusions, language, equality, climate change, rage, and feminist inspiration – are deeply explored.

The book has five sections that cover everything from inspiration to practice. The collection features established voices such as Pumla Dineo Gqola, Colleen Higgs, Kagure Mugo, Aaisha Dadi Patel, and Gugulethu Mhlungu, among others.

Lovers of literature will enjoy the anthology as some pieces will read like feminist anthems, designed to inspire the reader towards feminist consciousness. There are other pieces that beautifully navigate gender roles, women’s bodies and memories.

In the last section, there is an outline on how to practice feminism as a lived experience. The core lesson from reading this anthology is an argument for why the world needs committed leadership towards fighting gender inequality.

Lessons from Feminism go beyond South Africa to enjoy universal application. The book deals with universal issues and questions like equality, inter-sectionality, trauma, and gender-focused organising.

The anthology invites women, world over, to draw inspiration from South African women’s experiences and their unique take on what feminism. (

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