Seeking to mainstream the often othered narratives of queer women and non-binary persons "Dark Juices and Aphrodisiacs" is an anthology that explores the sensual lives of queer Africa. Using some well-known and some new voices from across the continent, the anthology opens up a new outlook on pleasure.
"Taboo" would not even begin to describe the content of this first anthology, a series of sensual and provocative stories. But "taboo" would also be a narrow description of a body of work that is challenging the heteronormativity of eroticism and pleasure. Dark Juices and Aphrodisiacs: Erotic Diaries Vol I is a racy exploration of the sexual experiences of African queer women and non-binary persons.
Curated by HOLAAfrica, Bel South and GALA Archives, the volume "sought to (and will continue to) bring untold stories and bold imaginations to an underdeveloped realm of imagination".
African erotica is very much in its infancy, even in the heteronormative space. Sex on the continent remains a subject to be whispered about, fumbled over and inspire shame due to perpetuated misinformation and generational suppression. This series, however, aims to "break the mould and invite women to write about what brings them pleasure".
It is a vibrant mix of poetry, prose and short stories from contributors that include Maneo Mohale, Amanda Hodgeson, Natasha Joseph, Fadzai Muparutsa, Safia Khan, Chinue Igwe, Nqabisani Mahlahla, Lyricnotic and Kare, among many others. Punctuating the pieces are steamy photographs modelled by Chido Muparutsa and shot by Siphumeze Khundayi.
Aside from attempting to normalise the expression of sensuality and kink, the volume also extends the LGBTQI+ narratives from sexuality politics, brutality and victimisation to matters of the boudoir. The curators promise seduction under the Johannesburg skyline, gyrating bodies at reggae bars in Addis, a place where fantasy and reality come to play, intertwined with the daily realities of queer women living and loving across our sensuous continent.
"Even where there are an increasing number of anthologies and online and offline platforms chronicling the African women and LGBTQI experience, few deal explicitly with sex and pleasure and even fewer deal with the erotic experience. This anthology seeks to counter the barriers within the realms of sex, sexuality and pleasure on the continent."