Academic journal article The Western Journal of Black Studies

Africana Womanism and African Feminism: A Philosophical, Literary, and Cosmological Dialectic on Family

Academic journal article The Western Journal of Black Studies

Africana Womanism and African Feminism: A Philosophical, Literary, and Cosmological Dialectic on Family

Article excerpt

The present treatment will examine, generally, the emerging perspectives of many of today's leading African women writers and scholars regarding the life conditions of the Africana woman and, specifically, pertaining to the institution of so-called "polygamy." This will allow for comparisons of the divergent viewpoints of the Africana Womanist espoused by Dr. Clenora Hudson Weems, African Feminists like the legendary Nigerian activist Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, and African writers like Glo Chukukere, who, amongst others, have all staked out ideological and philosophical positions on the matter of the overall condition of the African female and the African family.

Let us first begin to define the terminology and concepts of "Africana Womanism" and "African Feminism." In "Africana Womanism: A Historical, Global Perspective for Women of African Descent," Hudson-Weems makes it clear that her theory is not just an idea, but a method--with uniquely African considerations and sensibilities.

Africana Womanism as a theoretical concept and methodology defines a new paradigm, which offers an alternative to all forms of feminism. It is a terminology and a concept that consider both ethnicity (Africana) and gender (Womanism), which I coined and defined in the mid-1980's ... It was later established that the concept is neither an outgrowth nor an addendum to feminism ... Black feminism, African feminism, or Walker's womanism that some Africana women have come to embrace ... It critically addresses the dynamics of the conflict between the mainstream feminist, the Black feminist, the African feminist, and the Africana Womanist. (Hudson-Weems "Global", 1814)

In her seminal work, Africana Womanism: Reclaiming Ourselves, Hudson-Weems, the innovative theorist/scholar/activist identifies eighteen "descriptors," which should serve to guide informed analysis of the Africana woman's existence. The Africana womanist is 1) a self-namer; 2) a self-definer; 3) family-centered; 4) genuine in sisterhood; 5) strong; 6) in concert with the Africana man in struggle; 7) whole; 8) authentic; 9) a flexible role player; 10) respected; 11) recognized; 12) spiritual; 13) male compatible; 14) respectful of elders; 15) adaptable; 16) ambitious; 17) mothering; and 18) nurturing. As she simply states, "Africana womanism is an ideology created and designed for all women of African descent. It is grounded in African culture and, therefore, it necessarily focuses on the unique experiences, struggles, needs, and desires of Africana women" (154-155).

Accordingly, interspersed throughout this work is much about the African worldview and its philosophical bedrock, which reveal much about the cosmological, epistemological, and axiological elements which Molefi Asante names as the fundamental components of Afrocentric inquiry in Afrocentricity, Kemet, and Knowledge (8). For according to the perspective espoused by Nab in "African Womanism: An Afrocentric Theory," analysis of the clash of European and Africanological, epistemological, and axiological elements which Molefi Asante names as the fundamental components of Afrocentric inquiry in c (8). For according to the perspective espoused by Nab in "African Womanism: An Afrocentric Theory," analysis of the Nab Dove, having been exposed to Africana Womanism, having taught from my book for several years--I don't really know what the difference is, as she sees it. I really don't. I just know that with Africana womanism, I tried to look at us, and who we really are, and what we really do" (Reed "Portrait").

This matter of terminology is one of the first issues I raised with Hudson-Weems during the personal interview she so graciously granted to me. More specifically, I posed the following interrogatories, among others: 1) What is "Africana Womanism"? 2) How does it differ from "Feminism"? and 3) Why "Africana" as opposed to "African" Womanism? She listened patiently to my questions, then she informed me that her dear departed friend `Zulu Sofola, who had become a leading proponent of Africana Womanism on the African continent--and who wrote the foreword to Reclaiming--had essentially asked her the very same questions on the occasion of their first meeting, in 1992 at the International Conference on Women in Africa and The African Diaspora (WAAD), at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. …

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