Theorizing African Feminism(s): the 'Colonial' Question


Mekgwe, Pinkie. 2006. “Theorizing African Feminism(s): the 'Colonial' Question.” QUEST: An African Journal of Philosophy 20 (1-2): 11-22.

Author: Pinkie Mekgwe


This paper has arisen from a recognition that while the development of African Literature over the past four decades presents itself as an overt exercise in de-colonization, adopting as it does an anti-colonial, anti-'father’ stance, the development of African feminism becomes propelled towards being anti-Western feminism. This is manifested in an approach that while it seeks difference from the West, is anti-’difference’; while anti-gender-separatism and pro-male, yet seeks female agency and autonomy. It is this fluid character of African feminism that this paper seeks to explore. The paper sets out to demonstrate the impact that ‘Africanity’ and the decolonisation project has had in shaping debates on African feminism firstly, by highlighting the intricate relationship enjoyed by postcolonialism and feminism in African literature. I then link this relationship to the paradoxical, often ambivalent stance that theories of African feminism have adopted over time, resulting in an apparent stasis in theorizing African Feminism. Such stasis, as I shall argue, emanates from the ‘double bind’ lent to the meaning of ‘Africa’ as tied to the colonial experience.

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Feminisms, Gender Regions: Africa

Year: 2006

© 2023 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at