‘Until I Found My Voice as a Feminist’

I’ve lived my entire adult life in Nigeria. My primary struggle has been to speak. There are elaborate social structures that brutally silence women and children; at home, at school, at work, in your community, in the media. I struggle to speak my truth, to retain my values, to speak my mind, my reality. I was constantly told my views were minority, exceptional and problematic. I was taught not to question authority, which usually meant male authority. I struggle to articulate my thoughts and feelings through all the layers of social and religious inhibitions and restrictions I was taught as a girl child. I rebelled until I found my voice as a feminist and a space to speak.

Now I try to ensure that my voice is heard by my Afro-feminist sisters. I’m not trying to speak to white feminisms just yet. My primary audience is my African sisters, to share ideas with, define strategies and make decisions with. I believe we Afro-feminist sisters must speak to white feminism as a group, as a community, not as individuals. White feminism drowned out our voices with their privileged access to the media. I’ve heard their stories, I want to hear from my African sisters and not just the ones with Ph.D’s. Before the internet I mostly heard what white feminism and their black students had to say about me and about us. Now I can hear what my African sisters say about me and about us and compare our experiences, our priorities and our needs and articulate those when speaking to white feminisms. Maybe then when we speak in a loud voice together they will actually listen to us.

Lesley Agams.

Agams is a Nigerian lawyer who blogs about feminist issues from Africa (here). This is a great interview with Ms. Magazine. Agams talks about her struggle to reach out to other women around Africa who are also interested in a uniquely African feminism, one that is not dictated by white, privileged Western feminists. She finds that Twitter has helped her make this connection.