African Youth Masculinities

African Youth Masculinities

This project is a collaboration between a young filmmaker (Akosua Ampofo, camera and editing), a lecturer in film and a PhD student in African studies (Aseye Tamakloe, Director) and myself as Producer and Executive Director.  As African women we are interested in gender relations among people of the African continent and the diaspora, particularly the significance of the intersections of race and gender in the “making” of black masculinities.  

Changing socio-historical contexts notwithstanding, and decades after feminist scholars first applied the lens of patriarchy to examine constructions and performances of masculinity to explain gender inequalities, many narratives about young black man have remained static and devoid of nuances.  They are still vilified as sexual or otherwise violent predators; lazy n’er-do-wells; political mobsters or gangsters; or bearers of disease (eg. HIV). Alternatively, the black male is frequently the object of racial fetishism—presented as a super stud. Where different scenarios are presented, such as of the caring, stay-at-home father, or the sensitive son, they often come across as stories of the exceptional man.  

This project explores constructions, experiences, and imaginings of black/African masculinities, via conversations with young African men in Africa and the Diaspora, starting in Accra and going on to Kampala, Dortmund, Oshawa, Kampala, Pretoria, Nairobi and Philadelphia and London.  These young men, from their late teens into their early thirties, from different backgrounds, reflect candidly on what they can celebrate, including their privileges, as well as on what their vulnerabilities and challenges are.  Interviews were also held separately with two of the young men, a psychiatrist, the initiator of a civil society group in Mathare (a high-density, low income section of Nairobi) where one of the discussions was held. 

Photocredit acknowledgment: Akosua Asamoabea Ampofo

We challenge each other, therefore, to seek a new community of men and women . . engaged in a theology of relationships that would bring us closer to human life as God desires it

Mercy Amba Oduyoye