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Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah: Opening doors to African women's bedrooms

This post is part of our special coverage Global Development 2011.

Not everyone likes what Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah has to say (Warning: The blog contains some content only suitable for adults. You must be at least 18 to browse the blog). A recent visitor to her blog asked:

I was wondering. Are you Kenyan? .. I think you are. What is this obsession with sex that you Kenyans possess. This is maybe the 5th Kenyan blog talking about sex…Have a grip of yourselves people…

Nana Darkoa replied:

Elyas, I am not Kenyan I am Ghanaian. Perhaps you should learn not to judge people with little or no knowledge. Your assumption that Kenyans are obsessed with sex is based on reading 5 blogs on sex authored by Kenyans? What rubbish!

Her visitor was quick to respond:

Nana. I did not jump to any conclusion. There is no difference between you Ghanaians and the Kenyans. You both happen to be Bantus. Therefore, you people are both fascinated by sex. Do you really think that this is the way to enlightenment. It is apparent that ya’ll trying to imitate the western culture. Please, stick to your culture and quit trying to be something your not.

Ghanaian blogger Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah. Photo courtesy of Nyani Quarmyne (www.nqphotography.com)

Such comments are, however, the exception rather than the rule on Nana Darkoa’s blog Adventures from the bedrooms of African women. For the past two years, Adventures has provided a forum for frank and intimate discussions of sex and sexuality amongst African women and men. It was Nana Darkoa’s hope that the blog would be a space in which to continue a discussion that started two years ago during a holiday away with a group of girlfriends. In the space of a few days, they explored issues and secrets at a level she had not previously enjoyed. It was a conversation she didn’t want to end, so she teamed up with close friend, Abena Gyekye, and took it online.

But she wanted the blog to be more than a place to gossip about sex. Nana Darkoa is adamant that women should be encouraged to take responsibility for both their sex lives and their sexual pleasure. In Ghana, she believes that, for the most part, Victorian norms proliferate around the subject of sexuality. Sex education, where it exists at all, is very simplistic – if you have sex you will get pregnant, and the only solution is abstinence. That, however, is not where many Ghanaians – who make up the majority of her 10,000 visitors per month – want the conversation to end.

Wow this has been a very interesting read. I just found out about this blog and I am in awe of many of the posts. I had to comment on this one.

Nana Darkoa believes that there is a lot of curiosity in Ghanaian society about sex, particularly among young adults who are exploring and experimenting sexually. By not discussing sexuality openly, she thinks society automatically creates mystery and fear around the topic and a sense that what you’re doing is wrong. By contrast, Adventures provides a safe and anonymous space in which to discuss a range of topics. And with comments on the site often running longer than the posts themselves, it is clear that her readers value the opportunity to share and question their attitudes and experiences as well as the experiences of others.

I have found it interesting reading all your views. I must say I have learnt from the post and the comments as well. Nevertheless I must say that there is point that has not been well elaborated so, I decided to write about from my own experience.

With blog articles and comments often exploring intimate subjects, there are those who consider Nana Darkoa to be ‘brave’ for even attempting to write about such topics. She is quick to dismiss the notion that she is brave – a word she believes is better attributed to people who take real risks. Rather than being a brave move, starting the blog seems a natural extension of her many varied roles – whether as a Programme Officer in charge of fundraising and communications at the African Women’s Development Fund, co-founder of fashion label Maksi Clothing or as founder of the feminist women’s empowerment group Fab Fem. Feminism is at the heart of her blog and all her endeavors. On International Women’s Day she wrote passionately about coming out as a feminist:

Oh so being a feminist is being part of this movement that wants to change the world in which we currently live in? That wants to create a world that is safer for girls, women and communities at large. Well sign me up for that movement!

Feminism and sex are but two of many topics that are explored on the site. Blogs are just as likely to explore long distance relationships, domestic violence or homosexuality. Topics are often driven by requests from her readers, or from issues that are raised in comment discussion that she feels warrant a blog of their own. One subject which she is hoping to explore in more depth is how notions of sexuality fit culturally. She is not convinced that current ‘traditional values’ are consistent with African culture. Nana Darkoa believes we should be questioning whether the level of control that women have today over their lives is drawn from traditional African culture or has been imposed more recently.

Ironically, one concern Nana Darkoa has about her blog, is that many of her guest contributors and commenters tend to be men.

Wandered into this thread randomly from someone’s blog link, and it makes for an interesting read. Myself, I’m a white male, and hopefully not unwelcome to comment.

The prevalence of men visiting the site is, she believes, a product of men having more access to public spaces and a greater willingness to discuss sex openly. Despite it's growing community of male supporters, Nana Darkoa is adamant that she writes only for women.  It is her hope that those women (and men) will continue to engage with Adventures and help the blog to keep pushing boundaries – boldly exploring thought provoking issues and drawing followers and contributors from across the continent.

This post is part of our special coverage Global Development 2011.

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