Liralen's Reviews > I Dare to Say: African Women Share Their Stories of Hope and Survival

I Dare to Say by Hilda Twongyeirwe
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By sending writers out to collect the stories of ordinary women, most from Uganda, Twongyeirwe and Femrite managed to combine rarely heard voices with accessible writing. I expected to find this interesting, but I came away more or less loving it.

Some of the best pieces in here were the ones that come across as oral histories -- just the woman telling her story, with little to no commentary from the writer. It may be that these stories are simply the ones that come from the natural storytellers, but they're powerful.

It's also interesting to note that, in places, a 'villain' of the story could just as easily be the 'heroine': In Nakato's story, her lover is dying of AIDS (and, unbeknownst to her at that point, has likely passed it on); his sister comes to take him home and to scold Nakato. Nakato's viewpoint is no less valid or important for it, but I can't imagine that things looked particularly rosy from the sister's perspective either.

Other, smaller, things tell volumes about cultural norms: "since she became a born-again Christian, [Kyosha] stopped serving supper. She says that men must have supper with their families" (page 158). Okay, that's something about Kyosha -- but it also says, to me, that families do not eat out together, that the average customer is a male, alone or with friends. (Details, details...)

And then there's the last section of the book, containing stories of female genital mutilation (the stories also use the term "circumcision"; I'm using them interchangeably here). Again the authors have opted to portray a wide range of perspectives: women whose health was irreparably damaged by FGM; women who act, or have acted, as circumcisers; a woman who looked forward to her circumcision. Honestly, for this section alone the book is worth reading.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
November 21, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
November 21, 2013 – Shelved
December 9, 2013 – Shelved as: africa
December 9, 2013 – Shelved as: nonfiction
December 9, 2013 – Shelved as: hear-me-roar
December 20, 2013 – Shelved as: stories-and-essays
January 11, 2014 – Shelved as: z-2014
January 14, 2014 – Shelved as: reviewed
March 5, 2014 – Shelved as: make-love-not-war
March 5, 2014 – Shelved as: take-back-the-night

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