When I write – who can shut me up?


In Africa, a woman writer is a revolutionary. In writing, the woman writer abdicates the role of being the silent spectator and dares to speak.

In patriarchal Africa, a woman speaking up or speaking at all is a revolutionary, going against the grain, intruding into the space otherwise reserved for her male counterparts – the space to define reality, to critique what is, to celebrate or to denigrate, to demand an audience where one would otherwise be denied.

...I write because my anatomy can not confine me, limit me, constrain me or imprison my thoughts

For every woman who writes, presumes that she has an audience and that in itself – is a radical idea. A woman writer presumes that what she has to say is important, that her view and her voice matters and in writing she claims this space – the space to both speak and to be heard.

So when I write, who is going to shut me up?

The act of writing requires audacity, tenacity and above all, a commitment to one’s work, passion and destination.

To many; writing is an end in itself but to me, writing is a tool, a weapon I wield in a world that does not ordinarily afford women a voice.
So of necessity, my writing is mostly protest.

In fact, I believe that my work is more political than it is artistic. It is political in the sense that it challenges the status quo. It is political in the sense that it interrogates social stratification.

It is political in the sense that it examines the power relations that obtain within society – relations that are largely determined by who has resources and who lacks them.

It is political in the sense that it scrutinizes who has choices and who has none, who has options and who has none, who has a voice and who is denied one.

So I write to protest. I write to disagree.

I write to simply state that I think otherwise. I write to flip to the other side of the coin.

In my writing I identify myself as a feminist. I do not make apologies for it. Because feminism is an ideological position reaffirming what I identify with – the pursuit for social justice for women in a world where patriarchy legitimizes the conditions of our subjugation.

When I write, who can shut me up? When I reject patriarchy as an ideology that enables and legitimizes the structuring of every aspect of our lives by establishing the framework within which society defines and views men and women and constructs male supremacy. The ideological task as a writer and as a feminist is to understand this system and my political task is to contribute to ending it.

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9 thoughts on “When I write – who can shut me up?

  1. Khanyile Joseph Mlotshwa says:

    I believe feminism is an important ideology for several reasons.
    The single most important reason is that, it has always been society’s obsession to try to explain, to study and in the process to set laws for what is not in the mainstream. So were blacks during white minority rule, so are countless minority ethnic groups in Africa. So in a sense those who are theorising on the women’s situation (feminists) have helped society look at this ‘othering’ of other people. Because you can never ‘other’ the next person and hope that in the process you yourself don’t become the ‘other’. In ‘othering’ other people we also ‘other’ ourselves, consciously or subconsciously.
    Women have been undermined over years, and in the process a lot of potential has been stifled. What it means is that communities, especially African communities that are patriarchal, have lost. I will give you a very personal example. The Ndebele have since independence complained of marginalisation and all that. What I have realised is that it is man who are always on the forefront. They have good ideas but when it comes to implementation nothing comes out of it. They are good at theorising and talking about their problems; but they are simply not practical enough to chart the way forward. I have come to the realisation that this struggle (Ndebele struggle) lacks the pragmatism of women. I believe a feminist slant to the struggle will be important in talking it a gear up. That is where I see the usefulness of the feminist ideology.
    In a sense even these other activists have a lot to learn from feminists. The feminist analysis of society helps them understand their own situation. I think the case of Dr Mhlanga that I told you about in the morning is illustrative of this.
    I however think you limit yourself when you say, “The ideological task as a writer and as a feminist is to understand this system and my political task is to contribute to ending it.” This is militant enough, but it is not enough in the broader struggle of women liberation. When you end patriarchy what will you replace it with? That is what you should do: You should end patriarchy and proffer society a better social system, which I believe should be a superior breed of feminism. I am saying this because people find it hard to give up their comfort for the unknown. An example is that story by Verenanda Langa on the women who rejected 50-50 in the constitution. Those women cannot imagine any other life except that which they have now – a male dominated life. So beyond ending patriarchy, it is your responsibility as a writer and an activist to proffer those women an alternative.
    I am happy now that feminists are acknowledging that it (feminism) is an ideology. I think they now have to push a gear up, hold rallies like communists do, like capitalists (liberals) do and make the grassroots understand their cause. If it remains on cyberspace and books it will exist as an elitist ideology, yet it has so much appeal and usefulness for women toiling out there in the fields.

    • Mlevu says:

      Start your blog Khanyile. I cant ffinish yo comment coz its just too long. Tell abanye ukuthi bengangeneli coz ngizabayangisa

  2. Nana says:

    Writing in my opinion is definitely a revolutionary act! Let no one shut you up

  3. gugu says:

    you’re very brave D! A needed voice in season…let your opinions flow for generations to refer to years from now

  4. Liberty Bhebhe says:

    this is a brilliant Masterpiece delta. I think one of the best I have read from you. but Just on the lighter note…If you shut up you learn an awful lot. maybe when women are silent they are learning more that the talking men. Which is why they give more wisdom to their children as they grow. Try doing it. ha ha ha

  5. Mlevu says:

    Delta, I have to honestly applaude you for this bravery tht you have exhibited. The attempt to conscientise fellow women on societal legitimised oppression is really a milestone towards self realisation by women. You have such a wonderful way of coiling phrases in persuit of the noble cause. We need more of like minded women.

  6. Sesh says:

    The futility of any social uprising by women which i tame ‘feminism’ is inevitable and certain. I do believe in the emancipation of the girl child, the female species and all that gibberish but what I dont believe in is this new age kind of feminism that does not only seek to empower women but also to dis-empower men. We now that women across all cultures have been subjected to much scorn, ridicule and oppression but any retaliation or rather revival of the rights of women should not seek to make the man second grade and the women superior. This is because the rise of feminism now seeks to dominate over men, which would lead to the necessity of a rise of another group seeking to re-emancipate men and save them from the wrath of the feminist rulers. You will realise that even at this age we no longer talk about human rights because it seems like this has all been translated to ‘women rights’. So my message to the feminists is that we men will not stand by watching when the whole universe is made to tilt to the favour of the so called weaker sex not only at the expense of men but much to the oppression of the same. We also know that historically, all uprisings by the feminists have not only been futile but have also been doomed to fail so any wise feminists would love to fight their battle to achieve equality not superiority……

  7. Eyram Adadevoh says:

    Delta, I just love your posts! This is one of my favorites.

  8. […] Besides, when I write… who can shut me up? […]

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