Trenchant ... In fewer than 150 pages, Dangarembga deftly lays out the colonial history which her writing both springs from and exists in opposition to the essential difference between writing and publishing while Black and female, and how current Zimbabwean efforts to achieve gender equity in the country's institutions become polluted by postcolonial patriarchy. It's a tall order, but Dangarembga achieves it with grace, through a clear-eyed analysis of both her familial and national pasts.
The author turns her withering attention more acutely upon her nation’s politics via forthright — and sometimes overly broad — polemic. In essays that range from an account of her writing life to an examination of the reasons feminism has failed to win victories for Zimbabwean women, Dangarembga weaves personal and material histories to explain how race and gender are lived in her country. The result is a compelling collection that sometimes stumbles, leaving this reader pining for her trademark exactitude ... At its best, Black and Female accumulates and intertwines such details, yoking the personal and political to demonstrate how the experience of race and gender depends not on overarching essentialism but on local histories that are written on the body ... Moments constitute the sort of searing work we’ve come to expect from Dangarembga, and are far more effective than the broad, often vague claims she tries to make regarding the failure of Zimbabwean feminism ... The book too often left me longing for the author to return to the personal, where her most convincing political arguments get made.
A rallying cry for the transformative power of writing; not only to help us make sense of our place in the world... but to lend us the imagination and courage to change it ... Characterised by a fierce urgency.
Short, serious and powerful ... A celebration of artistic creation at the same time as an acknowledgment of unjust worldly realities. She has a talent for taking activist buzzwords, around women’s agency or the importance of decolonising the canon, and examining how powerful yet difficult it is to pull up the deep structural and psychological roots of patriarchy and empire.
An extensive declaration of selfhood ... Black and Female charts the journey from absence to presence. It is a portrait of the birth of consciousness, a process that has taken vigilance, determination and language.
To Dangarembga, continuing black female suffering is 'the metaphysical equivalent of a phantom limb', resulting from a violent, patriarchal British colonial project. She is at her best when examining that project’s historical features and contemporary ramifications ... Dangarembga’s honesty and clear-sightedness is to her credit. Less convincing, however, are some significant generalisations about the British Empire ... Notwithstanding these, the collection is full of interesting and well-explored analyses of the politics of blackness in Zimbabwe and further afield.
An essential addition to academic collections on race and gender. The moments where she shares her crisis over selfhood as a child and how that search for identity carried over into adulthood are some of the most powerful parts of the book.