Being an African Feminist – a testimony from the Ivorian Coast

A woman’s story from The Ivory Coast, West Africa

 » I come from the Ivory Coast, I live in Abidjan (Capital of the country) From my mother, I have two brothers and from my deceased father, we are ten all together including 3 daughters. I come from a Christian family. I work as a political consultant and program officer in an international organization. I am also a blogger and news writer. On social media, I am a feminist activist.

I have identified myself as a feminist for about four years.

I think there is a difference between African feminism which takes African women into account with their specificities and realities, and Afro feminism which is more focused on what would possibly characterize “African” women : the enhancement of black skin, crepu hair or local tissues…

In my opinion, Afro feminist activists tend to reduce African feminism to clichés and can often exclude other African feminists who do not fit in. For example, it would be contradictory for an African feminist to wear Western highlights or outfits.

The color of my skin has not really been a problem for me in feminism, as I have always lived in my country . But my Africanity, yes.

I am Ivorian and I live here. Feminism appears to be a western export product, which either distorts us or causes us to distort others. My experience as an African feminist is that I face hypocrisy and a truncated view of Africa, its values and women.

The African woman, more than all other women, has been prefabricated, her image is stereotyped and remains the main argument of domination of the African man.

To this is added the weight of religion even more . African women do not choose self-determination. They owe their salvation only to men.

One is better considered when married or mother. Virgin, sacred and submissive.

As an African feminist, I feel like I don’t belong here. I would have just been a real woman if I accepted that my life and my ambitions were second to my man’s.

With women it is quite mixed. Many accept this revolution, others a little less.

Most men are not really in favour of losing their privileges.

A lot of mean words or veiled insults. There are many words or subjects that one is obliged to hold cautiously to the risk of ‘destroying’ African values. I talk about problems all the time with people I meet here or during my travels. . Basically, we are all facing the same problems as women, young people and citizens.

But the problems encountered as a woman are minimized. Most of the men pose them as victimization and women deny them. For to force oneself to recognize them would be to commit to solving them. And there is more comfort in accepting a situation than getting out of it. Although more and more are committed to change.

The external view of the conditions of African women always depends on who poses it. Some Africans downplay them and some Westerners know more.
I’m lucky enough to work as a feminist, so yes, I talk about my women’s issues and with the voice of a feminist, which is perfect for me.

The primary struggles remain the psychological and economic empowerment of women in relation to men. This will be the starting point for successful emancipation.

Believe me, this would greatly reduce violence and mark the beginning of a new social order. For me, this fight is progressing quite subtly, but it is progressing, and the next generations will have many tools that will make it easier for them.

What I would like to see disappear: of course, social inequalities (wages, salaries, etc.) but especially the stereotypes of the object woman, mother, wife. The cantonment of women in a predetermined and frozen role. Sexist speech and violence. »

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an Nigerian writer and feminist

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