Swallow: Efunsetan Aniwura

By Ayodele Olofintude

The story follows the lives of two women, Efunsetan and Efunporonye, who after almost getting married go their separate ways and take us on a fascinating reimagination of Yoruba history and culture. Swallow is centred on queer characters and powerful women, who hold their own in a male-dominated world, during the colonial period.

These are women who oversaw their own lives, their financial affairs, commanding, and leading. Through this story we learn about these two figures, who did in fact, exist in real life. They may have made enemies along the way, but they still managed to own their power persistently, and fearlessly.

An inspiring and illuminating read, and I cannot wait for the next book of the series.

We Should All Read ‘The Power of Women’ by Dr Denis Mukwege

Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr Mukwege is a Congolese gynaecologist who specialises in treating injuries from rape, and an awe-inspiring advocate of women’s rights. The Power of Women is a harrowing account of his professional and personal journey of witnessing the heinous crimes against women, and their strength and resilience through all their traumatic experiences.

There’s often this narrow-minded belief that men who speak out against the injustices against women, or who are feminists, are ‘thinking and behaving like women’, along with the pressure for these men to justify themselves and their sexuality whenever they stand up for women’s rights. Therefore, this book is so important and a necessary read for men. If one does not see the urgent need to have more men like Dr Mukwege, after all the stories of the suffering inflicted on women, and how rape is used as a social and political tool, then we’re swimming in deep shit.

Dr Mukwege’s stories show the many ways women’s bodies are used as a deliberate power tactic in war, to make a political statement and to abuse power. However, the pages aren’t all dark and heart-breaking stories. He shows women’s power, their inspiring ability to find a reason to continue living and a new meaning to life, even after experiencing violence that destroys them in all ways imaginable. The ability to start over, and rebuild when everything has been taken away from them.

He also suggests many ways we, as society, can make the necessary changes. One of them is the need for a functioning justice system that listens to victims and deals with the tormenters in an effective way. He also suggests a cultural shift, breaking the silence and smashing taboos associated with sexual abuse and women’s bodies. Stripping out sexist language that refers to the honour, chastity, and modesty of women, is also another way.

There is so much to take in, to learn and to take with you when reading this book. It is a powerful stand against the disregard of women’s lives. It is thought-provoking, inspiring, distressing, and highly important.

I urge you to read it. Everyone needs to read it.

Another interesting book similar to this one is Women’s Liberation and the African Freedom Struggle by Thomas Sankara.

bell hooks Urges Us To Return To Love

Reading All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks

“love’s in need of love today

don’t delay, send yours in right away…”

(Love’s In Need of Love Today, Stevie Wonder)

Neighbour, remember when Stevie and George did that back in 1985? This was the song that played in my head while reading bell hooks’s All About Love: New Visions.

The book is a call for love, in our personal lives and in society as a whole. Love is needed as the thread that runs through the garment we dress the world in. bell hooks lays out 13 chapters of how and why we should redefine love, where we learn how to love and be loved, the benefits of a society that runs on a fuel of love, and so much more.

My favourite chapter was on how childhood is the original school of love. She dives into the way the patterns of love in our childhood affect us as adults. She challenges the idea of placing abuse and love in the same room and explains how the two cannot co-exist.

It made me think of how some of us in our childhoods, getting a beating for punishment was a way our elders showed us they loved and cared, doing it to steer us in the right direction. hooks offers an alternative, a method of discipline that is loving in its nature.

She also discusses lying in its different forms and how it is used as a form of power, and that it falls outside of the practice of love. She encourages us to commit to living by a love ethic, detailing the benefits of doing so and how that can transform our lives for the good.

The book is packed with so many ways that love reaches into so many spaces of our lives, and how we do things that get in its way. She talks about community, forgiveness, racism, sexism, and how love can be such a transformative force.

With all that we witness around us, there were parts of the book that sounded like unreachable tasks, or rather things we can only hope for. However, hooks is confident that by making certain changes, we can return to love and in these thirteen chapters she tells us how we can love again.

Happy reading, Neighbour. 😊