Liberating the African woman sexually

[Members of the Rotaract Club of Accra Ring Road Central invited me to speak to their club on the topic above. I started out wanting to write a story to illustrate the topic but a few hours to the talk decided I needed to prepare a ‘proper’ talk as well. I ended up doing a reading to the club and delivering my prepared speech which can be found below. I shall post the story shortly. As usual I would love to know your thoughts]


Being asked to speak on this topic delighted and dismayed me. Dismay because the title of the topic could lead one to assume that the African woman is not already sexually liberated or that women all over the world are sexually liberated and somehow the African woman is trailing behind. I have a problem with this idea. When I hear of women undergoing vaginoplasty in the West it gives me the distinct impression that Western women are not yet sexually liberated. When I hear that 1 in 4 women in the United Kingdom is a survivor of domestic violence I get the distinct impression that women in that part of the world are not yet sexually liberated. When Kanye West tweets about not being sure whether it is appropriate to use the word ‘bitch’ in his music I wonder about the effect that popular American hip hop has on the psyche of women all over the world including myself. The reality is that your sexuality is affected by how you feel about the way your vagina looks. Your sexuality is affected by violence and its effect on your self-esteem, and health. Your sexuality is affected about the messages we get from society including music, and all aspects of popular culture.

Yet I am delighted that I have been asked to speak on this topic. Perhaps I am delighted because the invitation to speak on this topic came from a man and it reinforces one of my own subjective views – that young men today are increasingly interested in the sexual pleasure of women. That has been my own personal experience in recent years but maybe this is just the case of bringing your A game when you’re having sex with a woman who blogs on the subject.

But there’s a bit more to liberating the African woman sexually than young men wanting to make sure women orgasm during sex. Liberation is also about getting rid of those aspects of our culture that limit women’s sexuality. I’m sure you can recite the list – FGM, breast ironing in some parts of the continent, harmful widowhood rites in this country and others. Lets also not forget about other aspects of our culture, which are also equally harmful to women’s sexuality. This includes telling your friends “Oh that girl? She be shashi. I shag am”. Lets also not pretend that the sexuality of women is exclusively heterosexual. The assumption of hetero-normative sexuality is also limiting to the full expression of a woman’s sexuality.

Ensuring African women have an enjoyable sexual life starts from childhood. It means on one hand protecting children from the sexual abuse that is so rife in our communities and on the other hand raising girls up to be confident individuals with a strong sense of self worth. An enjoyable sexual life means access to sex education, as well as access to comprehensive family planning services.

So what’s an adult woman to do today if she didn’t have this kind of background that would create a sexually confident woman. A couple of things have worked for me including:

  • Reading about sex. In particular I have found the literature by feminists around sex to be incredibly helpful. This has included some more academic/research-based literature like Simone de Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex” and works of fiction including Alice Walker’s “By the light of my Father’s Smile”. Prominent African feminist Sylvia Tamale has also edited a comprehensive collection on “African Sexualities”.
  • Learning what pleases me sexually. This is an ongoing lesson because what pleases you might change, or you might push your buttons and try an activity you thought you might hate and end up thinking, “Mmm, I quite like that”. Learning what pleases you sexually only comes from exploring. This can be with yourself (my first recommendation), and with your partner.
  • Communicating with your partner. Because of our socialisation women tend to be uncomfortable with expressing their sexual needs so this may be something you need to push yourself to do. I wanted to stand up and clap for myself the first time I said to a guy (in the middle of action when he had started to put on a condom) “I am not ready yet. I need more foreplay”.

If there is anything I want you to take away from this talk when it comes to good sex it is this: Learn, communicate and practice.

Happy practicing!



17 comments On Liberating the African woman sexually

  • how you capture so much in such few words is amazing. I am wowed!

  • Good piece Nana

    Note well taken and will surely communicate more and for the practising, still on it…….

    But when your partner is not the sex driven type it makes things harder than they are to be(Less practise, perfection -0)…..

    What abt dat???

  • This is why i love adventures so! I’m in awe of you nana! I’ll stop here so i dont start sounding obsessed 😛

  • This is my first time commenting but i am a huge fan of this site. We still have a long way to go globally in understanding how our environment affects our sexuality. I am glad you highlighted some of the subtleties since they are often overlooked.

  • @Nana – EI Nana. Coming from you I am especially flattered. Thank you.

    @NanBa Kofi – Then the question to ask is “why is your partner not so interested in sex?”. Could it be because what you (and by you I mean both of you) are doing does not work for her? Maybe some of the messages we constantly get from society keeps playing in her head – good girls don’t do this, only sluts do that etc. Have you tried asking her what you can do to please her in bed? With the goal of pleasing only her and not you? Give it a try and let me know how you do. Also I saw your email. Will write a post on the subject in due course. Thank you for emailing.

    @Ozohu – Awww. Thanks hun. I have much love for you and everyone else who comments regularly which is really what makes Adventures what it is. *hugs*

    @AfroD – Yay! Welcome to our community of commenters 🙂 Please comment some more. I’m inspired and motivated to blog more when I get comments. And yes, sometimes we have to point out the bloody obvious ‘cos its not always as obvious…

  • Nana! I’ll invite you to my upcoming wedding. I think you will be soooo much fun!! I want you to give a sex talk, instead of pastors and their belabored points about how I should take care of him, and he the same……tooo boring!! I just want to throw errybody off the loop!

  • @Nana, i have asked her b4 and all she keep sayn is
    1. She doesn’t think its the right thing to do as at now.
    2. She ends up getting sours.
    But the main thing is she is not dat kind of person who loves to participate in anyway during love making and it gives me the impression she is not interested in it but before we started dating we talked abt issues like this and she said she was cool with everything so i dont know where all this is coming from.

    And it worries me cos i turn to feel am not doing my work well but i don’t think dats the issue and because of that i’ve decided not to talk abt it again when ever she feels comfortable and ready dats cool with me……

  • @African Mami – You go kill me with laughter o. I would love to ‘minister’ at your wedding 🙂 I can’t stand most weddings because of some of these tired old sermons the pastors keep giving the couples. I keep thinking ‘Aba. Are these pastors for real?’.

    @Nanba Kofi – Ah. Are you saying your girlfriend doesn’t want to have sex? Now thats a whole different kettle of fish. If your girlfriend doesn’t want to have sex then you need tor respect her wishes and decide if you wish to be in a celibate relationship, or agree what the terms of your relationship is going to be. By ‘sours’ I take it you mean ‘sores’. Now that’s serious. Please ask her to see a gynaecologist. She could have an infection which could be caused by any number of things including having sex when she’s not aroused. Well done on making the effort to communicate with your girlfriend about sex

  • Thank so much Nana, i will tell her that and if possible go with her.

  • @Nana: You left out that sores could have a deeper cause which could – medically – hamper her ability to get aroused .
    Great piece. Have you read ‘How to be a Woman’ by Caitlin Moran? If not, you should add that to your list.

  • As always very profound….and in so few words

    I do have SOME issue with your recommendation of Simone deBeauvoir though, principally because in her rejection of her society’s ideal of womanhood, she argued along the lines that for women to be truly liberated they must essentially adopt the mindset, ideologies and interests of men/masculinity. Challenges to that as it relates to African women/womanhood have come from such researchers like Ifi Amadiume in such studies as “Re-Inventing Africa” and “Male Daughters, Female Husbands”

    It’s not that I dismiss her out of hand (her views on religion are almost identical to mine), just that aspect of her arguments.

  • @NanaBaKofi – Keep us posted…also bear in mind that she might prefer to go to the appointment on her own 🙂

    @Corey – I didn’t recommend Simone de Beauvoir o. I was only sharing what I had found helpful in learning about sex 🙂 I take your point though. As we know many of the first wave feminists had these kind of issues. I’ve read Amadiume’s “Male Daughters, Female Husbands” and I remember at the time being struck by her book but to be honest apart from her point about women marrying women in parts of Nigeria having nothing whatsoever to do with lesbianism the rest of it hasn’t stayed in my mind. I think its fair enough that we will like aspects of a theorists position and disagree with others. In fact its healthy to do so and a sign of our own critical thinking. From your comment I believe these are your thoughts as well. Thanks for as usual always adding a critical lens to the discussions

  • @ Nana

    I figured as much (re Simone), and you’re o right; it’s about critically analysing and sifting out what bits of knowledge are useful to you.

    Saying so, I don’t know if you have any friends in Uganda but there’s an amazing documentary that was done recently by a Danish or Dutch filmmaker on the traditional sex educators. It is called “Sexy Uganda” and I was able to see it when it was online for a brief period. Unfortunately, it has since been taken down for reasons I am not clear on but I’m sure it can be tracked down somewhere. If many people see this documentary it just may help in changing the way some people think and approach issues related to sex.

  • Pingback: Liberating the African woman sexually « The Great Scintillate ()

  • I followed the link from Waist Beads by Sewra to this wonderful blog. I am so pleased to have found this today! Thank you for creating a place for African women to communicate on this topic in a comfortable environment. Peace and Love from the African Diaspora in the U.S.

  • We’re all clapping for you “Ms. I need more foreplay!” 😉 Always nice when a woman knows what she wants.

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published.