African Feminisms (Afems)

Via Sharlene Khan

African Feminisms (Afems) Conference 2019 Call for Presentations. Closing date 31st March 2019.

African Feminisms (Afems) 2019: Theorising from the Epicentres of our Agency

5-7 September 2019, Wits University, Johannesburg

Organised by the Department of Visual Arts, Wits University and the Department of Literary Studies in English, Rhodes University

The third edition of the African Feminisms (Afems) conference will happen from the 5-7 September 2019 at Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa, in collaboration with the Department of Literary Studies in English, Rhodes University.

The 2019 theme is based on Nigerian Stiwanist Molara Ogundipe’s conversation in 2002 with South African black feminist Desiree Lewis in which Ogundipe states:

For me, social ideas should emerge from a consciousness that thinks of what is beneficial to a human being as a person, not because the ideas occurred or are practiced in Europe or America. We need to overcome our endemic inferiority complex towards Europe and things “white,” successfully implanted since our colonial education and through its curricula. We should think from our epicentres of agency, looking for what is meaningful, progressive and useful to us as Africans, as we enrich ourselves with forerunning ideas from all over the world including Europe and America. … I felt that as concerned African women we needed to focus on our areas of concern, socially and geographically. I am concerned with critical and social transformations of a positive nature in Africa, positive meaning, “being concerned with everything that maximises the quality of life of Africans and their potentials too”.

This conversation highlights issues that continue to resonate with black-African-postcolonial feminists in Africa and beyond: lived experience as sites of knowledge; epistemologies tied to geo-specific bodies; long heterogenous world histories that co-exist with indigenous knowledges; cultural seepage; humanistic philosophical stances that refuse the ‘othering’ of Africa(ns) and claim our space and place in world-making; embodied thinking-doing; a plurality of feminisms that respond to the diversity of African women; the centrality of women in decolonial paradigms; an acknowledgement of acts of agency that define Africans on a daily basis; and a good dose of hopefulness for the future. For the 2019 Afems conference, we would like to issue a Call for Presentations around the idea of theorising from the epicentres of our agency, thinking through some of these areas:

• What defines our epicentres?

• What are the sites and range of ‘lived experiences’ that we are dealing with as we head towards the change of another decade and a fight back by what bell hooks has termed ‘white supremacist capitalist patriarchy’?

• What knowledges inform our centering and doing?

• What does ‘theorising’ mean for black-African women?

• How do we contest the colonial theory-praxis divide?

• What role does creativities play in our world-thinking and world-making?

• ‘Agency’ in Africa has so many connotations including the stereotype of the ‘development agency’. What does it mean ‘to have agency’? Does agency = active? What does it mean to be an agent or to be agentic?

• How do we create change and organisations from the epicentres of the fields and the grassroots?

• How does theorising from our geo-specific epicentres disrupt colonial paradigms and rethink decolonial epistemologies?

• Can there be a centre without margins? Who are our margins as we look out from our epicentres?

• How can we reach out from our diverse epicentres in our various countries in Africa across Anglophone/Lusophone/ Francophone divides to each other and to sisters across the seas to have global conversations that respond to not only the global eco-capitalist crisis we are in, but to enrich the terrain of the human experiences we share?

Afems 2019 welcomes presentations from all scholarly disciplines and fields including paper presentations, conversations, themed convened panels, creative interventions and displays, book launches, video screenings, performances, self- and group-care sessions. Paper and creative presentations are limited to 20 minutes, proposed panels and video screenings to 1 and a half hours.

Send an abstract of your proposed presentation to: Abstracts should be no longer than 250 words and should contain a title, your full name, affiliation, email address and mobile number.

The deadline for all proposals will be: 31 March 2019.

We will confirm acceptance of your presentation by no later than 15 May 2019.

As always, all sessions are free and open to the university and general public. However, a registration fee of R500 will be charged to participants to cover the printing of the programme, drinks and meals (students can apply for a discounted rate of R250). Registration fees will have to be paid in advance of the conference and are non-refundable.

The African Feminisms (Afems) Conference is hosted by the Art on our Mind research project run by Prof Sharlene Khan (Wits University) and the Urban Connections and Popular Imaginaries in Africa (UCAPI) research project run by Dr Lynda Spencer (Rhodes University).

For more information, please contact Prof Khan or Dr Spencer on

Wombwell Rainbow compliments red cotton

Wombwell Rainbow says, “I admire so many poets, so it’s difficult to narrow that down. I’m going to take this space to recommend someone your readers might not have heard of. Her name is Vangile Gantsho, I met her in South Africa a few years ago, she is a phenomenal poet and has also co-founded a new pan-African feminist press called impepho press.” Order red cotton at or

Poetry Potion on the launch of Mahlangu’s ‘Surviving Loss’ and Godsell’s ‘Liquid Bones

The second book launch by impepho press brings you another two poetry collections. Busisiwe Mahlangu, winner of Tshwane Speak Out Loud, launches her much anticipated debut collection “Surviving Loss”. Sarah Godsell, finalist for HSS award 2017, launches her second collection, Liquid Bones. These poems live and breathe, and will find space to settle under your skin.

Poetry Potion, by Quaz

Gorata Chengeta’s (re-)view of ‘feeling and ugly’ by danai mupotsa

gorata chengeta, danai mupotsa, feeling and ugly, impepho press publisher, 2018, feminist pan african literature, poetry

The other day, a friend posted a picture of her copy of feeling and ugly on Instagram, with the caption “Companion”. I thought it was uncanny that hours earlier, I had thought about posting a picture of my copy with the exact same caption.


feeling and ugly is the first poetry book I have ever owned. I keep it by my bed, just in case. I don’t know what the emergency will be but I want to be prepared.

Read more on gorata chengeta

Books Live ~ Interviewing Vangile Gantsho

Carla Lever: It’s hard to break into South Africa’s very small publishing industry. You’ve proven that going it alone can be a great solution, by self-publishing your own very successful book of poetry. Can you tell us a little about what that involves?

Vangile Gantsho: My debut poetry collection, Undressing in front of the window (2015), taught me that no one will willingly open doors for you. You have to knock, or break the doors down yourself. And in order to do that, you must always be willing to learn. Self-publishing requires more than just raising funds. You still need a good team. And it’s not an easy process. It’s difficult, expensive work…but fortunately also deeply rewarding!

Read more…

Judy Seidman did a sketch of vangile gantsho

I stayed under water for sixty days before I met my mother
in a burning hut on the mountain
She could enter only to fetch me and put me down
Was allowed only to feed me
then return me to the fire

(red cotton by vangile gantsho)

Sketch of vangile gantsho by Judy Seidman done at a
Feminist Women’s Art Network reading and writing event
organised by the @1in9_Campaign, a South African collective of orgs and individuals motivated by feminist principles & the desire to live in a society where womxn are agents of their own lives.

Judy Seidman, sketch, poetry, red cotton, performance art, vangi gantsho