July 30, 2021

journey to the heart of francophone African feminism


“At the start of this series, these black and French-speaking feminisms whose history we often do not know, unless we have forgotten it or worse yet we have not yet done”, opens Perrine Kervran as an introduction to Axelle Jah Njiké’s fascinating documentary series. This one, author and feminist activist – creator of the podcast “Me, My Sex and I” on the intimacy of black women – asks: “Is there an African, black feminism? An “Afropean” feminism? What are the challenges and obstacles encountered by women in African societies and in Europe? “

First woman of her maternal line to know how to read and write, what has she inherited, she who gave birth to a girl but did not have the chance to grow up with her own mother, who remained Cameroon – whose journey of emancipation will nevertheless become a real model? Axelle Jah Njiké pays, through her historical exploration, vibrant tributes to pioneering authors, such as Mariama Bâ and her So long letter (2001, Le Serpent à plumes) or Awa Thiam, author of The word to the negresses (1978, Denoël-Gonthier). A book in which the anthropologist and co-founder of the Coordination des Femmes Noire collective gives a voice to young Malians, Senegalese, Nigerians, Guineans, who testify, in first person, to the issues of genital mutilation, polygamy or the practice. of the dowry.

Before the American jurist Kimberlé Crenshaw invented the concept of “intersectionality”, Awa Thiam had articulated sexism, racism and classism as systems of oppression simultaneously exerted on African women. ” We were no longer the object of exotic colonial literature but the subject and object of our own literature ”, underlines Fatou Sow, Senegalese sociologist and feminist activist of 80 years.

Difficulty of identification

The title of the documentary, I’m black and I don’t like Beyoncé, says all the difficulty of identifying with English-speaking black figures, like those of Chimamanda Agozi Adichie, author of the novel Americanah, or the Obama couple’s favorite star Beyoncé.

This is the subject of the fourth episode, which focuses on current activists, through music, cinema, pop culture, and tools such as single-sex meetings, restoring the complexity of these questions with Audrey. Celestine (Lives of combat. Black and free women, 2020, L’Iconoclaste) or director Amandine Gay.

The filter of the painful personal history of Axelle Jah Njiké, the inter-generational testimonies of overwhelming authenticity, the various scientific insights that she has gathered wonderfully recount the fight to break the silence, talk about oneself and wrest the right to every woman to be a subject in her own right. The self-taught documentary maker also restores the rightful place of French-speaking African women in feminism, through their theoretical and concrete contribution. These journeys to the heart of the universal recall to what extent the faces of feminism are plural.

“I am black and I don’t like Beyoncé, a story of French-speaking black feminisms”, a documentary series by Axelle Jah Njiké, directed by Marie-Laure Ciboulet, (France, 2021, 4 x 55 minutes), available on Franceculture.fr.