A book for the Consciousness-Soul that lies beyond our imagination.
Finnish-Nigerian author and journalist Minna Salami is best known for her blog ‹MsAfropolitan›, in which she describes the world from the perspective of being a woman of colour. She sees herself rooted in Feminism, specifically ‹Black Feminism›. The subtitle of her book ‹Sensuous Knowledge,› which was first published in English in 2020, is ‹A Black Feminist Approach for Everyone›. She has thus created a work that is of interest to all those who are concerned with the decolonisation of thinking and who want to understand what it means for a woman of colour to struggle to be heard in a white academic system. If alarm bells are going off because people suspect that there will be ‹whining› about women not being heard, let me tell you right now that this isn’t the case at all.
The book begins with the story of a mountain where treasures are believed to be – a white man climbs it but finds nothing, no gold, no wisdom. Years later, a black woman climbs the mountain and discovers the richness and beauty of nature. Over nine chapters, the book unravels our relationship to knowledge and power – the question of what counts as knowledge and who determines it is central. Why does the Western world not value poetry, art, myths, feelings, narratives, and even a sense of beauty as permissible sources that inform us about the world? A first awakening begins. Yes, we are indeed very Euro-patriarchal. But who has determined this? Minna Salami makes it clear that she doesn’t want to fight against this Euro-patriarchy, because that would just make it the centre of attention again. She wants nothing more than to tell her own story, to add her own view to that of the white man, so that we don’t overlook areas that also give us knowledge. She first generalizes this ‹everything› that is not ‹science knowledge› by calling it ‹sensory knowledge.›
From knowledge of liberation, decolonization, identity, blackness, womanhood, sisterhood, and power, readers walk the path through the book, ending at beauty. Beauty in an oppressive system refutes the system because it stands in stark contrast to the ugliness of the social order, she says.
Minna Salami’s explanations are never abstractly theoretical but always fed by real experiences, by facts from life, whether borrowed from pop culture or from the philosophical circles of history. At the same time, she is connected to her Nigerian roots in Yoruba culture, and as a result, wonderful insights are also possible.
I had always been rather put off by feminism previously because it came across as too harsh. This book has opened something up for me, perhaps precisely because it isn’t only written about feminism, but is attached to the question of how we generate knowledge. This gives the polarity of man/woman a positive boost. In it, ‹race› is another dimension of discrimination, which in turn illustrates the disregard for other culturally influential strata of knowledge. At the same time, the book is a sourcebook for thoughts, paintings, and literature by women of color throughout the non-Western white world that hasn’t been so clearly noticed in our country. In other words, a resource for moving forward.
It is a wonderful book that exposes my own assumptions, precisely through those that tend to be unfamiliar to me. This is not done by pointing a finger though, but simply recognizing the context of our global cultural history, not only that written by Europeans. It almost seems to me that Minna Salami has written the book for those of us who are white. However, she doesn’t exclude herself, or black men, from falling into these traps, because they apply just as much to people of colour. Lest we dissolve in our own domesticated notions of the god of science, this book is highly recommended.
Translation Christian von Arnim