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Daughters of Africa

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Author  Margaret Busby
4.4/5 Goodreads

Originally published  1 January 1992
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Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Words and Writings by Women of African Descent from the Ancient Egyptian to the Present is a compilation of orature and literature by more than 200 women from Africa and the African diaspora, edited and introduced by Margaret Busby, who compared the process of assembling the volume to "trying to catch a flowing river in a calabash". First published in 1992, in London by Jonathan Cape (having been commissioned by Candida Lacey, now publisher of Myriad Editions), and in New York by Pantheon Books, Daughters of Africa is regarded as a pioneering work, covering a variety of genres — including fiction, essays, poetry, drama, memoirs and children's writing — and more than 1000 pages in extent. It includes work translated from African languages as well as from Dutch, French, German, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.


The anthology's title derives from an 1831 declaration by Maria W. Stewart (1803–1880), the first African-American woman to give public lectures, in which she said: "O, ye daughters of Africa, awake! awake! arise! no longer sleep nor slumber, but distinguish yourselves. Show forth to the world that ye are endowed with noble and exalted facutlies."

Daughters of africa


Daughters of Africa was widely praised on publication. Reviewing it for Black British newspaper The Weekly Journal, Evie Arup wrote: "Daughters of Africa is a literary first. Never before has the work of women of African descent world-wide been gathered together in one volume. The breadth of this collection is startling.... This book should be required reading for any student of literature, and a standard reference book in school libraries, and, to paraphrase that well known slogan, 'every home should have one.'" The reviewer from The Independent, however, noted: "This book may seem to be about literature but in the end it is as much a testament to language: its power to create attitudes as well as its potency as a means of expression." According to Library Journal, the anthology is "an invaluable text for courses on women writers and writers of African descent", while The Washington Post Book World called it: "A magnificent starting place for any reader interested in becoming part of the collective enterprise of discovering and uncovering the silent, forgotten, and underrated voices of black women." The reviewer for Black Enterprise wrote: "It is a landmark anthology.... Busby's first-of-a-kind anthology is a poignant reminder of how vast and varied the body of black women's writing is." It has also been described as "groundbreaking", as "one of the most significant assemblages of writers across the diaspora" and as "the ultimate reference guide to the writing of 'daughters of Africa'".

It was included in Sacred Fire: "QBR" 100 Essential Black Books, which said:

"Daughters of Africa is a monumental achievement because it is the most comprehensive international anthology of oral and written literature by women of African descent ever attempted. (...) The success of the collection is that it clearly illustrates why all women of African descent are connected by showing how closely related are the obstacles, the chasms of cultural indifference, and the disheartening racial and sexual dilemmas they faced. In so doing, the collection captures the range of their singular and combined accomplishments. Daughters of Africa′s accomplishment lies in its glorious portrayal of the richness and magnitude of the spiritual well from which we've all drawn inspiration and to where we've all gone for sustenance, and as such, it is a stunning literary masterpiece."

The anthology was on the Royal African Society's list of "50 Books By African Women That Everyone Should Read", was named by Ms Afropolitan as one of "7 non-fiction books African feminists should read", features regularly on many required-reading lists, and in the words of Kinna Likimani: "It remains the ultimate guide to women writers of African descent."


More than 200 women are featured in Daughters of Africa, including:


  • Margaret Busby (ed.), Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Words and Writings by Women of African Descent from the Ancient Egyptian to the Present. First edition, London: Jonathan Cape, hardback, 1992 (ISBN 978-0224035927), 1089 pages.
  • — London: Vintage Books, paperback, 1993 (ISBN 978-0099224211).
  • — New York: Pantheon Books, hardback, 1992 (ISBN 978-0679416340).
  • — New York: Ballantine/One World Books, paperback, 1994 (ISBN 978-0345382689).
  • References

    Daughters of Africa Wikipedia

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