Original Feminsims Or Mwenkanonkano In Uganda: Indigenous Voices In Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s The First Woman


  • Lara Tortosa Signes Universitat de València




feminism(s), indigenous, storytelling, women, Uganda


The purpose of this paper is to analyze the novel The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi in the context of indigenous feminism(s). In the narrative, the protagonist discovers “the original state” of women according to the story she hears from the town witch, Nsuuta: before patriarchy, women were free like bodies of water, shapeless, inconstant, untamed. This original state has been suppressed by centuries of male dominance, but mwenkanonkano (the name the author gives to local feminism) is present in the life of many women who defy discrimination every day with their mere existence and the way they conduct their life. Nsuuta, by orally rendering the myths surrounding womanhood and passing them on to Kirabo, is writing (hi)story, legitimating it in their Ugandan context. Therefore, I argue that Makumbi conveys the need of an intersectional feminism which takes into consideration the life experiences of those women who are (and were) speaking up from their (un)comfortable homes. The author proves how significant these overlooked testimonies are since they are powerful examples of female survival in a society dominated by two intertwined forces: phallocracy and colonialism.


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How to Cite

Tortosa Signes, L. (2023). Original Feminsims Or Mwenkanonkano In Uganda: Indigenous Voices In Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s The First Woman. The Grove - Working Papers on English Studies, 30, 135–154. https://doi.org/10.17561/grove.v30.8020