Opening Spaces: Contemporary African Women’s Writing is an anthology celebrating African women writers. It features short stories from renowned female writers such as Ama Ata Aidoo, Leila Aboulela, Ifeoma Okoye, Milly Jafta, Veronique Tadjo, Lilia Momple and a host of others. The collection covers various issues such as infidelity, boldness, disillusionment, betrayal, moral decadence, AIDS and other sensitive issues in the society. Women turn to writing as a means of making their voice heard in the society, letting people know that they were never contented with being put in the background and that they are now doing something about it.
Leila Aboulela’s ‘The Museum’ tells of the struggle a Sudanese girl goes through when she is attracted to a white boy during the course of her studies abroad because she is a victim of an arranged marriage. ‘A Perfect Wife’ by Anna Dao gives a rich description of family ties, marriage and widowhood in the Malian society.
‘Deciduous Gazettes’ by Melissa Tandiwe Myambo is about women who are married to philandering men; the society’s view about infidelity; how it is always the other woman’s fault and never the man or how the wife is sometimes to blame for her husband’s philandering. ‘The Barrel of a Pen’ by Gugu Ndlovu talks about the sensitive issue of abortion. Sindiwe Magona’s ‘A State of Outrage’ is about AIDS and the initial hostility South Africans showed towards it or anybody who dared to speak about it.
‘Night Thoughts’ by Monde Sifuniso, is about the joy, hope and eventual disillusionment that normally characterise governance in an African society. Set in Barotseland now Zambia the story is about a leader who before been elected promised all and sundry for the populace and on reaching the palace forgot all about his promises. In this story Sifuniso painted an image of the effect of the instability of the nation upon an individual.
This collection succinctly describes the views held by these authors on a range of issues without necessarily coming across as being too forceful.