Mona Eltahawy wrapped up the fifth day of Season 2 of the Afrolit Sans Frontieres Virtual Literary Festival from Montreal, Canada on Friday, April 24, 2020. She was hosted by Natasha Omokhodion-Kalulu Banda.
The Afrolit Sans Frontiers Virtual Literary Festival, a new initiative by and for writers of African origin, was started in March as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic international lockdown. Like the first edition, Season 2 features some of the leading names in African letters today with curation by Maaza Mengiste and festival founder Zukiswa Wanner. This season sees 16 writers from 14 countries streaming either on Instagram or Facebook from 13 cities in English, French, and Portuguese over eight days under the festival theme “What I Wish You’d Ask Me.”
Since the festival started on April 20, bibliophiles from all corners of the globe have interacted with Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor from Nairobi, Kenya, Lola Shoneyin from Lagos, Nigeria, Elma Shaw from Kigali, Rwanda, Edwige Renee Dro from Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, Sulaiman Addonia from Brussels, Belgium and Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi from Manchester, UK. There have also been sessions with festival curators Maaza Mengiste alongside Natasha Omokhodion-Kalulu Banda, Remy Ngamije, Bisi Adjapon, and Chike Frankie Edozien and Zukiswa Wanner alongside Chike Frankie Edozien, Kalaf Epalanga, and Leye Adenle.
The first session for Friday, April 24 was Napo Masheane streaming on Instagram from Johannesburg, South Africa followed by Mona Eltahawy in the closing session. Mona Eltahawy is an Egyptian-American feminist who has written The Seven Necessary Sins For Women and Girls (2019) and Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution (2015). She is a commentator whose opinion columns have appeared in newspapers around the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and others, and is a frequent guest analyst on television and radio.
The Egyptian started her session with a reading from her newest book The Seven Necessary Sins For Women and Girls then the session host Natasha Omokhodion-Kalulu Banda took the reins. For the next half hour, we heard Eltahawy’s worldview on the octopus that is patriarchy and her battle against it starting with her road to Damascus moment when she was15 and moved to Saudi Arabia. The anarchist spoke about her convictions to fight for others who do not have her privileges and her prescriptions for fucking up the patriarchy. It was a call to arms to end the patriarchy for both women as well as men who are also negatively affected by the system.
You can watch video of the session below.