cover image The Sex Lives of African Women: Self-Discovery, Freedom, and Healing

The Sex Lives of African Women: Self-Discovery, Freedom, and Healing

Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah. Astra House, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-1-66265-081-9

Ghanaian activist and blogger Sekyiamah debuts with a dazzling series of soul-searching and taboo-breaking conversations with women throughout Africa and the diaspora about relationships, sex, and identity. Her profile subjects (no last names given) include Nura, a Muslim woman struggling to adjust to her polygamous marriage in Kenya; Estelle, a young British woman of “mixed African and Arab heritage” who leaves her marriage to pursue polyamory; Amina, a queer feminist activist living in Egypt; Kuchenga, a Black trans woman and sex worker who calls her attraction to cis straight men “a curse”; and Miss Deviant, a 52-year-old dominatrix in South London who makes her rich, white male clients “perform acts of service for their wives and partners.” Interweaving autobiographical details with her subjects’ complex, category-defying personal histories, Sekyiamah charts the “journey towards sexual freedom and agency” through self-discovery, defiance of cultural norms in favor of authenticity, and reckoning with the traumatic legacies of rape, abuse, and genital mutilation. Though many of the interviewees acknowledge their unhappiness, the overall tone is hopeful, resilient, and accepting. Marked by the diversity of experiences shared, the wealth of intimate details, and the total lack of sensationalism, this is an astonishing report on the quest for sexual liberation. (Mar.)