We offer a process of asking whose feminism? What feminism? Why feminism?
The process seeks to pay tribute/homage to women seen and unseen, those remembered and those forgotten. Heard and unheard. A process of looking at the spaces we hold and how and why we hold these spaces, along with which spaces hold capacity or possibility. This process is an offering, a celebration of our existence, in its many shades, shapes and forms: spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Feminism Ya Mang- Feminism Yethu - Feminism Yani is an activation that builds on existing and ongoing conversations regarding women and our experiences in Southern Africa. The project works with an awareness of the nuances of the nation-state as a context, while deeply aware of the ways the borders have always been porous and with an awareness of women’s statuses of movement and migration across our region. We aim to explore definitions, representations and fabulations of Mma, Mbokodo, Makoti, Sisi, our (She)been queens, hawkers, survivors, mamgobozi’s and all the sis buti’s who have had their experiences and voices be minimized to suit dominant and exclusionary narrative formations.
When beginning to conceptualize how to possibly take this conversation on, we acknowledged a need for a range of vantage points: popular, vernacular, historical, scholarly perspectives to contemporary realities of all who identify as womxn. Our aim is to re-examine these perspectives an iterative, open and learning conversation, where lived experience, our performative selves and our engagements with the biological body form our starting points. Who decides who is woman? What spaces do women occupy and why? Why are so many of the names we are called derogatory? Why do we struggle to find positive affirmations used for woman?
We wanted to ground the conversation by asking a set of questions such as: How does one define African Feminism? Why is it called African Feminism? What are the existing theories based on? What are the ways that theory and praxis negotiated in African Feminist practice? What does gender mean in Africa and elsewhere? What is the impact of economic and political development on men and women in the country and region?
We also seek to better understand Feminist theories and women's movements in the context of global social movements: How are woman political organizations and socio-economic strategies structured? Do African men practice Feminism? When and how? What changes can be observed in the waves of African Feminisms and how are they related to the development of Western Feminisms? What is the relationship between Western Feminisms, African Feminism, and other Southern Feminisms?
It remains important that we are aware of the sensitivities around the topic and approach the process with the understanding that we are not the first or the last to have these conversations. We promise ourselves to tread thoughtfully and with as much insight rooted in the collaborator's own experiences and that of family, colleagues, friends and trusted communities. The process of research was and is on-going.
This is not a project. It is a process of understanding and celebration. A reminder that our lives matter. As Black, As Woman, As Human.