New Daughters of Africa’ is a must read for aspiring young women writers.

Jennifer Makumbi is a Ugandan novelist and short story writer. She is one of the many women writers featured in New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent (2019).

These writers can be described as the matriarchs of African literature.
They pioneered ‘African’ writing, in which they were not simply writing stories about their families, communities and countries.
They were also writing themselves into the African literary history and African historiography.
They claimed space for women storytellers in the written form, and in some sense reclaimed the woman’s role as the creator and carrier of many African societies’ narratives

New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent (2019), edited by Margaret Busby, is an imposing 805-page tome of stories by ‘African’ women writers from across the world, born between the 1790s and 1990s. This collection contains writings by more than 200 women writers and builds on a previous anthology, Daughters of Africa (1992).

If one is a reader or follower of ‘African’ women writing — defined in the narrow sense of writing by women writers born and bred on the continent — there are several familiar names in Daughters of Africa, such as Ama Ata Aidoo, Ifi Amadiume, Mariama Ba, Abena Busia, Jane Tapsubei Creider (a Kenyan who is hardly read in this country), Tsitsi Dangarembga, Buchi Emecheta, Noni Jabavu, Mwana Kupona, Elen Kuzwayo, Zindzi Mandela, Lauretta Ngcobo, Rebeka Njau, Flora Nwapa, Grace Ogot, Molara Ogundipe Leslie, Efua Sutherland, Zulu Sofala, Veronique Tadjo, Miriam Tlali, and Charity Waciuma.

These, as you can guess, are very few writers indeed. But these are the more easily identified ones locally. For instance, I guess many Kenyans have never heard of or read Jane Tapsubei Creider, co-author of A Dictionary of the Nandi Language; author of the novel The Shrunken Dream, and an autobiography, Two Lives: My Spirit and I. Or, how many Kenyans remember or even know Charity Waciuma?

These writers can be described as the matriarchs of African literature. They pioneered ‘African’ writing, in which they were not simply writing stories about their families, communities and countries, but they were also writing themselves into the African literary history and African historiography. They claimed space for women storytellers in the written form, and in some sense reclaimed the woman’s role as the creator and carrier of many African societies’ narratives, considering that the traditional storytelling session was a women’s domain.

More Stories
Recognizing Diversity At the 2020 AAFCA Awards (Plus Winners List)