This year’s National Arts Festival – which runs from 2 to 12 July in Grahamstown – not only features a number of strong and visible women in most genres, but also numerous productions and exhibitions that interrogate and question fixed thinking in relation to gender more broadly. This year’s programme also features more women in an effort to amplify female voices in the theatrical, performing and visual arts.
At the closing of the recent PEN World Voices Festival in New York, Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoke out against the ‘codes of silence’ that govern American life. ‘The fear of causing offence, the fear of ruffling the careful layers of comfort, becomes a fetish,’ Adichie said. Practising what she preaches, the award-winning writer recently spoke out against the criminalisation of homosexuality in her home country. But, she told The Guardian: ‘I have often been told that I cannot speak on certain issues because I am young, and female, or, to use the disparaging Nigerian speak, because I am a “small girl” … I have also been told that I should not speak because I am a fiction writer … But I am as much a citizen as I am a writer.’