The Sex Lives Of African Women is a book I’ve been meaning to pick up for a very long time…I can’t lie, I was holding out a bit to see if I could somehow get the US cover but I that is patience I do not have! 

When I saw the Nana Darkoa Sekiyamah’s name and the description of the project, I realised both sounded familiar. I’d stumbled on the blog Adventures From The Bedrooms Of African Women a few years ago and been blown away by it! Wasn’t as shiny as it is now but the fact that there was an online platform for African women to freely, openly share about sex was quite a ground breaker. And pioneered by a Ghanaian woman! icing! I remember following Malaka Grant when I first joined instagram but I hadn’t kept a keen eye on new developments so you can imagine my excitement when I heard Dialogue Books was publishing The Sex Lives Of African Women

The Sex Lives Of African Women Nana Darkoa Sekiyamah US Edition Astra House

Put together through interviews by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, The Sex Lives Of African Women is a collection of accounts amplifying individual women from across Africa and the global diaspora as they share pivotal experiences of sex, sexuality and relationships.

It’s so important for this book to even exist. For generations of African women who are expected to pretend sex doesn’t exist- or that they don’t like it. It’s important because control of women’s sexuality is a means to control women. We have to own ourselves.  It’s important because there is no singular story here- the spectrum runs from monogamy to polyamory to celibacy. Some of the women are activists within queer and trans communities Heterosexual, bi, gay, undefined- These pages ran right through the Kinsey scale!

The women’s voices, sex and relationships  are all truly their own

What I loved most about the collection is that I didn’t feel an agenda was being driven. There being no singular story was significant. The perspectives of the different women are divergent enough for some of them to completely disagree if it came to a debate. Maybe even fight. It didn’t feel like the stories were moulded into an ideology, I got the impression that the women’s voices and stories were respected. It is genuinely: this is a set of our experiences, take it as you will- we are who we are .We are sharing. Although cathartic, no one is being answered to.

These are very candid stories so some were very heart breaking, particularly the accounts of sexual abuse. There are not always well concluded, wrapped endings which adds to a sense of reality. Incompleteness is indicative of continuing journeys. 

One thing I did wonder was why the three sections (self discovery, freedom, healing)are in that order, why not end with Freedom?  The way the stories read, I think I would have started with healing 

The Sex Lives Of African Women Nana Darkoa Sekiyamah Book Review Dialogue Books Astra House

Some of the accounts were very entertaining. For the accounts on sexual enjoyment, these women were really letting us know! I can’t pretend to understand all of it but That isn’t the point at all. Some were inspiring, watching women grow from experiences into who they are today. More importantly, the accounts didn’t seem entirely conclusive to me, signifying acknowledgment that there still potential for growth and learning. For all of us

Some accounts made me think there is very much a world out there that I am NOT privy to! Dungeons are involved (not those kind of dungeons. Sex dungeons)

This isn’t one to be missed out on, whether to find yourself in pieces of the pages or learn about perspectives you had never even considered. I’d love to see updates in new editions going forward

The Sex Lives Of African Women Edited by Nana Darkoa Sekiyamah published by Dialogue Books in 2021

2 Comments

  1. It’s so important to share women’s stories and this seems a particularly important book. Is it child abuse they talk about in parts, or adult domestic violence, if you don’t mind me asking?

    • paperbacksoc Reply

      It is really important to hear these stories, especially from a personal perspective. Some of the abuse spoken of is in child years, some adult. All are relevant to the stories and upsetting, but not gratuitous

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