#BlackWomenBeLike: A new chapter for stories of black women

By Panashe Chigumadzi (@panashechig)

In this first installation, (available on Amazon), the conflicts experienced by black African women, particularly in South Africa, are beautifully explored, in ways that are sometimes cheeky, and at other times poignant. In Maqutu’s words, “The women in the book drink beer with men who ask for their advice. They are accused of witchcraft because of their success. The women are well travelled and educated and not, they are lovers of men and women. They are rich and poor. And they enjoy loud and quiet conversations with their sisters.”

This book is not making a statement If you believe the stereotypes about black women, Or look to extremities about them to fight stereotypes You will be severely underwhelmed

Because the women in this book are not angry, but they may be angered. They are not emasculating, but they will express their opinions amongst men The women in this book have booty…big and small They are nurturing without being asexual

They take control of their bodies and are not hoes They take charge and are victims They are loved and hated They are different and similar

They are contradictions They are Black They are women They are human

So goes the introduction to Andiswa Onke Maqutu’s #BlackWomenBeLikeSeries. This is a woman after my own heart, who has set an ambitious aim of producing a series of books, short stories, opinions, artworks by black women to inundate mainstream and new media with more nuanced and diverse representations of black women and their experiences 2014/2015. This work will appear quarterly on various platforms the series has partnered with, as black women showcase how they see themselves and each other.

Of the title she says, “The series’ title is a play on memes circulating social media, portraying stereotypes about black women as emasculating, finger-waving angry creatures or old struggling asexual wise women or mystical creatures of African voodoo…the list is endless.”

In this first installation of short stories by Maqutu, (available on Amazon), the conflicts experienced by black African women, particularly in South Africa, are beautifully explored, in ways that are sometimes cheeky, and at other times poignant. In Maqutu’s words, “The women in the book drink beer with men who ask for their advice. They are accused of witchcraft because of their success…The women are well travelled and educated and not, they are lovers of men and women. They are rich and poor. And they enjoy loud and quiet conversations with their sisters.” My favourite is ‘When the Jacarandas Had Begun Rotting”, a story of an ‘affair’ made illicit by unfairly applied, or rather, misguided, rules of university and a heteronormativity.

The #BlackWomenBeLikeSeries has a host of partnerships coming up in November/December for poetry, short stories, photography, music, animation and opinion. One of these partnerships is with Storymoja for present Finish the Story Friday, a series of the stories between the lines of stereotypes about black African women. On the second Friday of each month, a new story by a writer from a country in an African region the #BlackWomenBeLikeSeries is celebrating will be posted on the Storymoja blog. All the stories written in each three month period will come together to make one nuanced story about the black  African women of that region.

Five black African women writers from the six African regions will have their books published in 2015. Interviews and book reviews will also be published on the Storymoja Platforms.
You can follow the movement: @BlackWomenBLike on Twitter and Black Women Be Like on Facebook.
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