Minna Salami on Women’s Liberation | 30 Days Unchained: Day 22 Thursday 31 January, 2013

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 30 days unchained/#30 Unchained | Day 22 1/31/2013 | Inspiration: Minna Salami We are all multifaceted; a result of ever-changing forces that make us who we are. A champion of female and African empowerment, Minna Salami started the MsAfropolitan blog to spur a conversation around the cosmopolitan African, whose identity, like everybody else’s, cannot be […]

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 30 days unchained/#30 Unchained | Day 22 1/31/2013 | Inspiration: Minna Salami

Minna Salami

We are all multifaceted; a result of ever-changing forces that make us who we are. A champion of female and African empowerment, Minna Salami started the MsAfropolitan blog to spur a conversation around the cosmopolitan African, whose identity, like everybody else’s, cannot be pigeonholed. Salami’s blog is an attempt at both deconstructing the myth that Africans are a monolith as well as an endeavor at delving into the various forces that influence what ever they happen to be.

 Influenced by a range of feminists, Salami maintains that the development of Africa is directly related to the status of women, and the latter can only be elevated through women striving to attain a constantly improving social location. She rejects the notion that there is only one single meaning to female liberation, but recognizes the importance of stirring women into defining it for themselves. “To one woman being empowered means being able to stay at home and look after her children, to another it means the opposite,” she maintains. Minna’s feminist fire is the inspiration for today’s challenge…

Challenge (Find, Create, or Remix an image that answers the question): What does female liberation mean to you?

Share your image(s) on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and be sure to tag @liveunchained and use the hashtag #30unchained so we can shout you out! Be sure to follow us on FacebookPinterest and Twitter to keep up with the latest #30unchained news.

Live Unchained: What is an Afropolitan? Can anyone be an Afropolitan?

Minna Salami: Taiye Selasie, who coined the term Afropolitan has this definition:

“What distinguishes [Afropolitans] is a willingness to complicate Africa – namely, to engage with, critique, and celebrate the parts of Africa that mean most to them. Perhaps what most typifies the Afropolitan consciousness is the refusal to oversimplify; the effort to understand what is ailing in Africa alongside the desire to honor what is wonderful, unique.”

Going on that definition, which I do to a great extent, I think anyone can be an Afropolitan. I see Afropolitanism as a lifestyle or sub-culture, rather than another term to define race or ethnicity. Goodness, we have enough of those! I think it’s becoming increasingly popular because it defines the lifestyle and the spirit of the time for the cosmopolitan African who is maneuvering spaces such as diaspora, locality, arts, fashion, culture, politics, globalization, multilingualism between the African continent and the urban cities they take influence from.

LU: The message of women’s empowerment on your blog really resonates with me. What does feminism mean to you? In what ways do you think it’s important for women of African descent? I’ve come across a lot of people that still think that “black feminism” is an oxymoron; like feminism is a movement strictly for white women.

MS: There are many nuances to feminism and each person’s relationship with feminism is unique. For me, more than anything, feminism was the tool that sparked my inner revolution–that is, the sense of revolt against conformity so that I could make space for my own definitions of life. We need to end sexist exploitation within and of ourselves before we can aim to do so in society at large. Feminism empowered me to do that and I’m grateful to the women, the revolutionary “mothers,” that paved the way.

There are countless black feminists whose work has given us women of African heritage a powerful and intellectual voice, and the opinion that black feminism is an oxymoron really becomes quite absurd and disrespectful when you highlight the important role of women like bell hooks, Ntozake Shange, Wangari Maathai, Patricia Hill-Collins, Ama Ata Aidoo, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Nadal El Saadawi to name a few. Are the critics saying that these women don’t count?

As for the importance of feminism, in the West the female body is objectified to a point where a recent study shows that 8 out of 10 women are unhappy with their bodies. Across the globe one in three women is beaten or sexually abused in her lifetime. In Nigeria, where I’m from, it is believed that about 50% of women have been beaten by a partner. Maternal death rates are the second highest in the world, genital cutting is widespread, widows are mentally and physically abused, acid bathing affects an increasing number of women across all ages and rape is used as a weapon especially in the conflict ridden Delta region. In Zambia, two political leaders were recently found guilty of beating their wives; they claimed that they did it out of “love.”

Generally speaking, Africa’s nations rank amongst the lowest on the gender equality index. These are the types of reasons that make feminism and the struggle for gender inequality important; unfortunately, they are just the tip of the iceberg.

Minna Salami

LU: When it comes to matters of African independence and women’s empowerment, who are your radical inspirations?

MS: Oh my, there are so many! To name a few, I’m inspired by Angela Davis for her rebellion, Gloria Steinem for her spirituality and compassion, Michele Wallace for her insights into black masculinity,Molara Ogundipe for her African feminist theories, Wangari Maathai for her discourse on the abuse of nature and women, and many more. Oh, and I should mention Thomas Sankara, his thoughts on gender equality are a true source of inspiration to me.

LU: Finally, what does living unchained mean to you?

Living unchained is making friends with freedom. In order to obtain freedom we need to be in control of our lives, our bodies, and our minds. There are many obstacles in the way of freedom, even abstract things like the media messages we are surrounded by, so to live unchained we need to challenge those obstacles, not confrontationally, but with resolution.

This interview is excerpted from a full feature with the artist. View the original articles here and here

30 Days Unchained/#30unchained is an interactive creative countdown to the Live Unchained Anniversary Celebration . Everyday for 30 days, we’ll share some of our most popular interviews with Live Unchained featured artists. They include women creatives of various disciplines from across the African diaspora. Her creative journey will be the inspiration for your challenge. To participate simply respond to the challenge question with images (not words). Share it on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest and be sure to tag @liveunchained so we can shout you out – it’s that simple. Learn more about 30 Days Unchained, including rules and prizes hereGet your daily challenge from Thursday, January 10th through the day of the big bash on Friday, February 8th at www.liveunchained.com.

Written by Kathryn Buford and Nesrien Hamid 

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