Exhibition: AWA (Dakar, Montpellier, Bordeaux)

A pioneering women’s magazine

This exhibition is dedicated to one of the earliest African women’s magazines, produced and published entirely in Dakar from 1964 until 1973. Awa, or Hawwâ’ in Arabic, evokes the name of Eve, the first woman and mother of humanity. This mythological reference resonates throughout Awa magazine. From the outset it signalled a new kind of publication.

This starting point directs us to the essence of the period of the independences, as men and women sought to build the political and social foundation of a ‘new humanity’ (Fanon). While women’s magazines might be associated with frivolity today, Awa, on the contrary, was political, profound, and daring.

Through images, film, and text, the exhibition raises questions of critical thought, women’s political activity, the category of women intellectuals, inequalities and complementarity between the sexes, education and pleasure in sub-Saharan Africa. Awa is above all characterised by a freedom of speech which might be envied today.

In 2017, the magazine was digitised at the Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire-Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar. It is now freely available at www.awamagazine.org.

For information on the reproduction of the Dakar exhibition in Montpellier (19 March – 20 April 2018) as part of the ‘Afrophonie’ week, please visit the webpage on the site of the Centre Culturel Universitaire de l’Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3.

The exhibition was also reproduced in Bordeaux (March – July 2019) at the library of Sciences Po, Bordeaux (Pessac Campus), as part of an event programme run by the LAM (Les Afriques dans le monde) research centre. Please visit this webpage for more information.