The Jalada Conversations: Bodies Series – Episode 01
Welcome to a four-part podcast series taking a deep dive into all things “Bodies”. It is a continued exploration of the Jalada: 08 issue. This series was supported by the Hivos Foundation’s R.O.O.M Media Grant.
Series Host Aleya Kassam speaks to Ghanaian feminist, Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah and Kenyan activist, Peninah Mwangi on why the labor of the erotic is often simultaneously erased, diminished and demanded of women. They explore how sex writing and sex work subvert this. What is it about the ephemeral joy and difficult labor of creation and release that both sex and creative work have in common? What is it about this intimate space, about intimacies, that can be revealed through this work?
Find out all this and much more.
Note: If you are able, we strongly encourage you to listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that may not be captured on the page. Transcripts may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.
Episode 01: Recorded on November 6th, 2019
Wanjeri Gakuru: Welcome to Jalada Conversations, a podcast series where we explore the worlds behind stories. My name is Wanjeri Gakuru, Jalada Africa’s Managing Editor. In this podcast, we talk to people in the Pan-African art space about the process, craft and ideas revealed through their work. Our latest anthology, “Bodies”, is interested in everything, body. We are curious about what makes bodies feel, hurt, love, what bodies matter, to whom and why. In our first episode, we talk about the idea of bodies as power. And now, here is Aleya.
Aleya: Hello, everyone! My name is Aleya Kassam and I am so excited today to be joined by two incredible guests. In studio with us today, we have Peninah Mwangi who is the Executive Director of the Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme. It’s a Kenyan NGO that supports the rights of women working in bars and sex workers. And joining us all the way from Ghana is Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah. Nana is a feminist activist, writer and blogger and the co-founder of one of my all time favourite websites, Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Wome, an award-winning blog that focuses on African women, sex and sexualities. She also works with the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) as Director of Communications and Media. Hi, Nana!
Nana: Hi! It’s good to be here. Thank you so much for having me.
Aleya: And to start, I would like to ask both of your permission, Peninah and Nana, to bring another woman into the room. I would like to bring in the voice of Audre Lorde. Would that be okay?
Peninah: Sure, sure we welcome her voice!
Nana: That would be great,yea
Aleya: This is a woman who has written extensively about the idea of the erotic and the power of the erotic and the uses of the erotic. And, you know, as we, as I was thinking earlier about this idea, about the idea of body and the idea of using the power of the erotic, of course, that quote from Audre came straight to mind.
She says, “There are many kinds of power, used and unused, acknowledged or otherwise. The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed and unrecognised feelings.
Today we are going to be talking a lot about power and about bodies.
When you look at Kenya specifically, and maybe Nana you can talk a little bit about Ghana as well, this new kind of ultra-conservatism that we have feels very other. It doesn’t feel here. It doesn’t feel like it really belongs to us. It is sort of a colonial gaze that’s been washed over us. That perhaps removes the way that we used to engage with pleasure before through our bodies. Sex work today, how does it push up gainst this idea of traditional conservativism? And, Nana, how does some of the work that you have been doing and seeing push up against this idea of conservatism or an imposition of a way that we perhaps didn’t used to be?
Peninah: Maybe I can start by saying conservative but especially religious. Especially the idea of ‘marry a virgin’, ‘one man, one woman’, kind of you must be very monogamous, issues like that. We now begin to question and learn in religion, and in tradition why it was important for a woman to get one child outside of the marriage, why the whole idea of the virgin wife is not so much in our tradition. Myself as a Kikuyu, it was not really part of our idea and why maybe one woman did not belong to one man. And we begin to question all that. And even to look at the Bible and be able to see that, really, this may not be supported by evidence and it is not practical. So we begin to look at ourselves and our religions and claim our rights as women, as African women, and see that really this is not…it’s BS.
Aleya: (laughs) And do you mean – I love that BS – do you mean also erotic rights?
Aleya: What about the experience of the erotic for a woman?
Peninah: If you look at our traditions, even our traditional photos and-
Aleya: -And not just a woman, actually a human being-
Peninah: – A human being–
Aleya: – Yeah.
Peninah: You look at our tradition, the songs that we sang, they were really erotic and they described in detail sex, how to go about it, what to do, how to please yourself and it was accepted, and I think these were the songs children were taught right from puberty. Why rites such as, during the circumcision rites, we were taught how to feel pleasure, how to give pleasure, how to enjoy the next phase in life, and how to be merry and be gay and be happy, Which now foreign whatever, and religious beliefs tell us that it is wrong. For us to reconcile that is a journey but, yeah, we are moving towards it. You know Kenya is this 90% Christian but of course you see the contradiction.
Aleya: And Nana, what is your experience there in the spaces that you inhabit?
Nana: Yeah, I just wanted to say that I really actually appreciate those folks who are able to do the work of uncovering what some of our traditional cultures have been like, especially around sex and sexuality being more open, so super interesing to hear everything Peninah is saying about Kikuyu woman’s traditional sexuality and how that has been sort of documented in song. And I completely agree that this age of conservatism that I also see in Ghana, it is definitely new, it is definitely colonial and I feel like a lot of it is actually neo-colonial, it is happening now. In Ghana you see the influence of far-right American evangelicals who have, you know, strong relationships with religious leaders here, with civil society leaders here. Very recently in Accra, there was a meeting of the World Congress of Families, which is a group that has been classified as a hate group by the likes of the Southern Poverty Law center in the US that tracks extremist and fundamentalists groups. And, basically, they were here advocating against compulsory sex education which our government is trying to bring into schools.
Nana: And the conference that we recently had was chaired and facilitated by all levels of pastors and apostles, you know, reverends, and it is really really sad because of course what groups like this do is promote a very narrow view of what the family is. You know, a view of the family as nuclear, as that being the only legitimate family structure, which we know it is not true. I myself come from a polygamous family and from generations of polygamy. I prefer polyandry (Laughing) over polygamy for sure.
Peninah: (Laughing) Of course! –
Nana– You know, and our African family structure, the nuclear family is very very new and it actually doesn’t feel very true to our realities as well so I completely agree that this conservatism is being fanned, you know, like in the literal sense of somebody is holding a fan and fanning it and sparking a fire, by people outside of the continent.
Aleya: And those are very powerful forces that are really influencing our experience of our own bodies and our experience of how we express the erotic, as individuals and with each other. I think both the social forces, if its religion, and even the governance forces.
Peninah: Especially when it comes to political interference, international interference, you’ll see that they flash big money. They flash big money and tell people that they need to come out of sex work, that what they are doing is evil and, the girls, because they may be attracted to the immediate gain of dollars will take the money, will start like bead work, they are being rehabilitated, being redeemed from evil so to speak. They come with all kinds of agenda and big money and try to rehabilitate the people but within a few years, within even less than a year, the girls are back on the street. Because, really, that wasn’t their idea. That idea came from someone else. And as Nana is saying, we are also experiencing the opposition of teaching young girls, teaching young boys, about sex education. It is being very much opposed, and again, by big dollars, big money and…it is really interesting, because in our traditional communities, boys as young as twelve years were taughts sex education but they do not want us to do it now. Why?
Aleya: Yeah, why? What do you think the reason is?
Nana: I mean absolutely they dont want us to know it now because if you actually have a really comprehensive understanding of sex and sexuality, you begin to tap into your own power. You know, you know that your body is not just for other people’s pleasure and so, yeah, there are folks out there who don’t want children to learn about their bodies because they don’t want them to bea bleo to find themselves and to be who they are outside of particular norms and ideals,
Aleya: And Nana, because of course then it affects the power dynamic…
Peninah: Of course…and I’d like to add there is a conference going on in Nairobi right now, the IPPG 25+ that brings in issues of family planning and the opposition that is happening around is amazing! You listen to what people are talking about, it is amazing! Access to safe abortion – they don’t want to here anything about that. And the people who are opposing this are people who really cannot relate.
Aleya: They are fundamentally I guess trying to say your body is not yours.
Aleya: I’d like to maybe get a little bit personal, if you’ll allow me.
Aleya: And ask you, when did you discover the power of your own body?
Nana: I don’t know, I mean. It’s really hard, when you think of your first sexual experiences, I think as a woman especially when you’ve been sexually abused, all of that kind of stuff. But I actually feel like I didn’t really discover the power of my own body till my thirties, you know? And I don’t think it’s a surprise that it’s at the same time that I started writing adventures.
Nana: And I feel like I’m, every day, discovering the power of my own body. The older I get, the more amazed I am by what my body can do, in a sense how much more free I feel you know, becaue I think sex and pelasure, a lot of it is in the mind, a lot of it is in letting go of what other people think, so yeah, it did take me to my thirties, in a sense, to discover the power of my own body. I feel like I definitely have more pleasurable sex now than I did in my twenties. Waaay better sex!
Aleya: Yeah, it only gets better. That’s one of the things they don’t tell you.
Nana: I know, right?
Aleya: Peninah, what about you?
Peninah: I can say I discovered the power of my body gradually and in different aspects, like at twelve years shopkeepers noticing you and saying, that’s a pretty girl. As you go to school, the person who is charging the money in the bus tells you, “No, she won’t pay.” So I think I began to see there is something because everybody else is being charged in the bus and they’re saying no you won’t be charged in the bus, you being let go somewhere. So you discover the association – maybe it was a pretty phase? – but soon you realise that being a girl has it’s advantages.
Aleya: And, possibly, also disadvantages.
Peninah: Of course.
Aleya: I mean, I think about, for me, I used to…we have this silly thing where we have big family get-togethers, and when I was a little girl I would dance, you know, for everyone. And then there came a moment that was very confusing. I was about eleven years old and I was told, “okay, um, it’s not appropriate to be dancing.” And it was so confusing because, one moment, everybody was in adulation of this little girl enjoying her body, and now it became very threatening for this, perhaps, not so little girl anymore enjoying her body.
Aleya: Of course, I didn’t understand the power but all of a sudden I realised maybe my body is not my own anymore.
Peninah: Ah-hah. What is wrong with it? Cause the same thing – I would go where men were playing. We have our African, like chess game, we used to play with bottle tops. So I would go there and play with the men and even beat them at it, and I get to learn to be very good at those table, whatever, draft games. And I would go and play with the men, even beat them. Then, after sometime, the same age you are talking about, I was pulled away by my mother, who was also working in the bar, who was also running the bar at that time, and that’s how my story in the bar started. She would pull me away and say, “No, Peninah, you cannot be playing there.” And all along she would babysit me with the men there! It became not appropriate anymore.
Aleya: Nana, is there anything you wanted to add before I ask my next question?
Nana: Thinking about when we start that transition from girlhood to womanhood. That’s definitely a time when I didn’ t feel I had power over my body. I remember walking in the market and somebody like literally grabbing my tits, and in Ghana at the time they used to say, “bobi-stand-up”, and basically they are saying your boobs are standing up.
Nana: I felt very self conscious. I remember over a long vacation in school, I basically left the school flat-chested and came back with like, I think like, D-cups. I remember all the girls gossiping about me and saying, oh this meant I must have had sex during my, the holidays.
Nana: So, that was a confusing period for me. I definitely did not feel like I had power over my body. In fact, I felt very self-conscious and uncomfortable in my body. So it is interesting to me that for Peninah, that was also a point in time that she was beginning to feel like, oooh, this body can do things, it gets me-
Aleya: Maybe I can take the conversation a slightly different route, and I’m really curious about this idea of the erotic and bodies that aren’t in the center. You know. I tink about aginegin bodies, and I think about differently abled bodies, and I think about bodies that perhaps don’t conform to the mianstream view of what is allowed to be erotic or what is allowed to experience pleasure. I am curious to hear your thoughts about that, about what happens when we center those bodies instead of pushing them to the edge.
Peninah: Life happens to all of us. Ageing bodies experience pleasure; whether or not the media or we talk about it, doesn’t really matter. So we should, as activists, be bringing up this kind of people and this kind of truth to the public, because, when we pretend that only models are having sex, we’re really getting it wrong.
Nana: Absolutely! I mean, I am currently working on a non-fiction book about the sex lives of African woman. So I have been interviewing women from across the continent and the diaspora about their experiences of sex and sexuality, and I am super interested in speaking with older women, and so I have also been making conscious effort to speak with older women. Maybe part of my interest is personal because I am no longer young, I am forty one, you know. And, so I kind of want to know what is sex like when you are sixty, when you are seventy?
Aleya: I know right?
Nana: And the interviews I have been doing have been blowing my mind! There was a seventy year old queer woman who I interviewed, who is in a relationship with another seventy year old woman, and it made me envious! Oh my gosh! I can take tips from you, you know, just in terms of how she and her partner approach sex, how they treat intimacy, how food is like an essential part of their loving, how they are still trying new things at their age. The other time they were having a conversation about, “Hmm, shall we try bondage and see what that’s like?”
Nana: And for me that was really exciting because I think, absolutely like Peninah says, the media gives us an impression that only certain types of people, certain types of bodies have sex, but of course the reality is different. And I think it is important for us to show these different realities as well, right? For me that was super inspiring. You know, this couple I’m talking to you about fell in love in their sixties. And I know it can be very easy for people in their thirties to feel like, ‘oh my gosh, I’m never going to meet anybody.’ But, for me, it was really inspiring to hear about a couple falling in love in their sixties because it just says to you, like, you know just live your life. Do what makes you happy. Yes. You will still be attractive to people at every age.
Aleya: And it’s crazy to say this, but that is really quite a radical thought-
Aleya: -because often we are not told that. We are told you have to really be a certain way, look a certain way, make your body behave a certain way, in order to attract anything that is worth attracting.
Nana: Absolutely! And we always put pressure on older women, you know, as people who have no sexual desire whatsoever and that is really not the case. I think the first, sort of, older woman who gave me inspiration and hope for, (laughter) in a sense, being an older woman with sexual desire was Maya Angelou, and this was basically through her books, but she also wrote a lot about the erotic from the vantage point of being an older woman, you know. Sharing her own mom’s experiences and desires. You know, I really remember her writing on the subject really staying with me.
Peninah: Locally, I remember when this powerful woman – Wamboi Otieno- when she got married to a younger man –
Aleya: – And she was how old, Peninah, at that time?
Peninah: She must have been in her mid-sixties or older.
Aleya: Yeah, she was regarded as an elderly woman.
Peninah: She was regarded as an elderly woman, then she fell in love with a twenty four year old man, and they actually got married, and had all the works. Like it was a colorful ceremony. Even one of the first persons to denounce the marriage was her own daughter. But, I remember my mother celebrating her and other women celebrating her and saying, ‘that’s that way to go!’ Yeah-
Aleya: I love the way you said that she fell in love, you know? And that they didn’t hide it; they fully went out and said, ‘look at this, this is worth celebrating’.
Nana: Nobody would have even questioned if a sixty seven year old man had married a twenty four year old woman. It would have never made the news.
Nana: These double standards are ridiculous! I mean, definitely an important thing is that the person be above the age of consent and to be making those decisions, but people make decisions about who they will marry all of the time. It could be for social reasons, it could be for love, it could be for economic reasons as well. Yeah, so.
Nana: -Good on her. I feel like I heard of this story!-
-I think even I heard of this story!
Peninah: Even you! Even you! It was really, really something! Then, I’d like to say that in my experience, as the Director of a sex workers’ organisation, sex workers relate and have stories to talk about every kind of man that they are in relation or that they are engaged in. He could be fifty years, he could be ninety years, and the man will her enjoy her body, the girl will enjoy the man’s body, regardless of age, regardless of his physical abilities, protruding belly, muscle man…it boils down to the same thing; an enjoyment between the two of them. I think we really do exaggerate on physical appearance.
Aleya: I think there is something really powerful when a human being refuses to be shamed for their body. They can…that’s threatening, I think. For Wambui, it was threatening to the world that this is a woman that refuses to be shamed, and so how dare she?
Peninah: How dare she?
Aleya: How dare she enjoy and express her body the way she wishes?
Aleya: Nana, you mentioned a little bit about Maya Angelou’s writing on the erotic. And, you know, Jalada, a couple of years ago, released an anthology entitled Sext Me, which was really an anthology of writing about, inspired by, about the erotic and sex specifically. I wonder what erotic writings you enjoy as individuals and perhaps what’s influenced your understanding and enjoyment of the erotic.
Nana: Mmm…this is a great question. I am one of those people, if I go into a bookshop, I’ll go into the section where they have the erotic books. I’ll look for books featuring Black people, especially women who sleep with women. That I find a turn on. And then just going on the internet and, also on Adventures we publish a lot of erotic stories as well. So, people are writing about their own real experiences and, to me, that is really hot.
Aleya: I spent a lot of time on Adventures last night. I went with the idea of reading maybe one or two things, and two and a half hours later, I emerged and was like woooo!
Aleya: Why am I not here every night?
Nana: A lot of people say that! Yes, I’ve heard people tell me they’ve spent hours on the site. They went to look for one thing and then it’s like hours later, they emerge on the other side.
Aleya: I think what is also really delicious about Adventures is how varied the writing is. There is fiction, there is like non-fiction,t here is almost tutorials. There is no snobbishness about it which is really, really refreshing.
Nana: That’s really good to hear.
Aleya: Peninah, what about you? What writing about the erotic have you enjoyed and has influenced you?
Peninah: I think, when I was in school, there as this book by Paulo Mutisyo or something- I think that’s the first experience people in our country get on erotic. So you read it under the bed, and with time I think I read mostly like, blogs. Not much of a reader myself.
Aleya: What do you think the online space affords that the physical page can never?
Peninah: I think it avails every body on a universal level, and anybody, even all sex workers these days have smart phones. I think the programmers are not taking advantage of the experience and the availabiity of onlien to be able ot reach more people, to be able to accept it as a medium that can be used to educate and bring people together and share erotic experience.
Nana: For me, the real advantage to online spaces when it comes to sex and sexualities is that people may actually find freedom to be themselves, in ways that they cannot be in real life. So when I think of my blog for example, I was so intrigued one time when somebody told me they had literally three different personas on the blog, right? A lot of people choose to write under pseudonyms but this person, for example, her boyfriend knew her pseudonym. Under that particular pseudonym, she was a straight woman. And hten she had her alter ego as a queer woman, then she had another alter ego as a bisexual person, you know? But in a sense, being online was allowing her to inhabit these different personas. At the time she didn’t feel courageous enough to be out, you know, in a sense, in the physical world, in the real world as a queer person, but online she could be. And for me, that’s another advantage of being in online space; it’s just the ability to reimagine, the ability to be yourself.
Aleya: I just love that so much. This idea, that we can express or inhabit different possibilities of ourselves and, kind of, try expressing them in different ways, is so exciting because it is so different from everything we’ve been taught, which is that you must be one way all the time.
Peninah: We should also question the society that is forcing us to use pseudonyms-
Peninah: – that forces us to have different identities because we will not be accepted or because we cannot inhabit the same society in our real selves.
Nana: No, yeah, you are absolutely right Peninah. But the reality for a lot of people is that…I think people like you and I may be lucky in terms of the work that we do. But the reality for a lot of people is sometimes there are consequences to speaking up about sex and sexuality. I know I had somebody write to me and ask if I could delete a comment that was made on adventures, because they had gone for an interview – in the States, sometimes we think these things only happen in Ghana – and they were questioned about a comment that had been made on Adventures, And, ironically, the comment wasn’t even made by them, it was made by their sister. So, yes, I agree, we need to question our society and this idea that if you have sex or you express your sexuality openly, you are a bad person, you’re a terible person.
Aleya: My next question again is around the literary space, and I really use the word literary very broadly. I think the space of stories, I think I’d rather use that term in whatever format we consume. What’s missing when it comes to the erotic in this space, currently, and specifically the African space?
Nana: So, I have actually been invited to lots of literary spaces to participate in conversations about sex and sexualities. And I actually find the African literary spaces – and I am going to specifically mention the Writivism Festival in Uganda, Pa Gya! festival in Ghana, the Ake Festival in Nigeria, and I just came back from the Lagos International Poetry Festival in Nigeria – are spaces that are actually creating opportunities for us to speak about the erotic. And so for me, actually, African literary spaces are in a sense being fore-runners of that. But yes, overall, the sense that I have is writing about the erotic is marginalised and seen as slightly less than/not as good as, in quotes, “literary fiction.”
Aleya: Nana, would you say that this space is mostly non-male?
Nana: Uh, not really. It’s a mix actually. Two of the festivals I mentioned were founded by men, one of whom I know identifies as a feminist man. I don’t know how the other man identifies. But it did really strike me that these are the spaces that are quietly creating a revolution because they are very much, in their own way, normalising conversations about sex and sexuality, and creating space for conversations on the topics.
Peninah: I would welcome Nana to also come to the everyday spaces that the majority of the population is engaged in. Like, in our country, I’d say like in the bars, in the marketplaces, there are opportunities and in the bars we find that the…uh…one man-guitar who sings erotic things and people in conversation in the bar will talk about it. But these are places that are not recognised, yet it’s where the majority of that may happen. Even in religious places, in churches, in mosques, maybe the available platforms of reaching out, mass numbers of people because in some literary spaces, they may look elitist and not engage many people who need to be engaged.
Aleya: I mean you bring up such a great point, that outside of literary spaces specifically, in the spaces that you move in, in the worlds that you move in, where and how do you hear these stories being shared?
Peninah: Hear this mostly in bars, a lot of bar talk. It’s really about erotic, A lot of it is erotic and we learn a lot from there, and we share a lot from there, but it is not recognised as a space where that is happening. I think there should be a blend between the elitist space and the space where every person has access.
Aleya: I’d love to just give you a space to, perhaps, if there is anything else that you feel that I haven’t asked you about that you’d like to talk about or mention or reference. The title of our episode today is Bodies as Power: Is there anything that perhaps I haven’t thought about that you think, ‘l’d really like to talk about this?’
Nana: I love the theme of bodies as power because I think we don’t often think of our bodies as powerful right? What does it mean if we really try and internalise that? What would we do differently if we thought our bodies were powerful and they belong to us? So, I love the theme. I find it very inspiring. But the other thing I would like to talk about is, Peninah, thanks for the invitation to come hang out in the bars with you.
Nana: I actually love Kenya and I come there fairly often, at least once a year.
Aleya: Karibu sana!
Nana: And thanks Aleya for the introduction. So, I can’t wait to hang out with you in the bars.
Nana: I would really love to have that experience as well, and I would also like to extend an invitation for you to come to Ghana and hang out with me whenever.
Aleya: I love that so much, Nana! Thank you, and thank you, for all the work you’ve been doing for the last decade. It’s work that is work, and I think should be recognised as so, and you have invited other women and together, you have been a part of other women kind of exploring their own sexuality in ways that maybe they wouldn’t have been able to without such a community. So thank you.
Peninah: What maybe I can say is to thank you for providing this opportunity and to continue doing that so that we stop shaming women’s bodies, so that we start celebrating women. We already put down by so many things and it’s the reason why women, as powerful as we are always, like, under 30% in parliament, under 20% in the corporate leadership movement, because all these shaming has consequences in every aspect of our lives. And so, a woman, who studies and works very hard in college, gets an engineering course, will be less likely to move up there and it has nothing to do with books. So what else is it, other than our body? There is something out there that plays against us, and yet we should celebrate our bodies and move forward. As an activitst, as a sex workers activist, a woman leading a sex worker’s organisation, it is to call for the protection of women in sex work and to be able to celebrate their bodies, and to see sex work as work that women could engage in.
Aleya: Thank you so much Nana. Thank you so much Peninah. And I’d encourage us to keep reaching out for different expressions, different expressions of identity, of sexuality, of self. It’s been a wonderful morning and I hope that everyone out there listening will get a chance to look into some of the work that’s been mentioned, and to enjoy their expressions of their body.
Peninah: Thank you!
Nana: Amazing! Thank you so much.
Wanjeri: Thanks again to Aleya, Peninah and Nana for this great conversation. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Use the hashtag #JaladaBodies whenever you share on social media. Jalada Conversations is a Kali Media Production. Our Executive Producers are Paula Rogo of Kali Media and Wanjeri Gakuru and Anne Moraa of Jalada Africa. Our host and producer is Aleya Kassam. This season was made possible through the ROOM Media grant from the Hivos Foundation. We recorded this episode at Mojo Productions in Nairobi. You can find out more information about Jalada conversations at www.jaladaafrica.org. You can also follow @JaladaAfrica on all social media platforms. I’m Wanjeri Gakuru. Until next time.
Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah is a feminist activist, writer and blogger. She is the co-founder of the Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women award-winning blog that focuses on African women, sex and sexualities. She works with the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) as Director of Communications and Media.
Peninah Mwangi is the Executive Director Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme. This is a Kenyan NGO that supports the rights of women working in bars and sex workers. Our area of focus is HIV prevention and care, economic empowerment, human rights advocacy for bar hostesses and sex workers as a marginalised constituence.
Aleya Kassam is a Kenyan storyteller, writer, performer, whimsical jewelry maker, and lapsed yoga lover. She is a founding member of The LAM Sisterhood, who created the award winning theatre show, Too Early For Birds: The Brazen Edition. For the last 5 years, Aleya’s writing home has sporadically been www.chanyado.wordpress.com.
This series was produced by Anne Moraa with technical support by Kali Media.
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