All my nostaliga for my west African childhood led me to discover three feminist stories, all just from one country. Kinda makes you wonder what else you're missing from this enormous and diverse continent.
Breast Ironing: Broadsheet and Feministe describe the practice of beating away or ironing girls' breasts at puberty. Approximately 26% of Cameroonian girls undergo these rather useless and painful attempts to get rid of their breasts and protect them (or, more accurately, protect their family's honor) from men's sexual interest. The good news is that Cameroon has instituted a nationwide campaign against this practice. It has also criminalized the practice, at least to some extent. According to a story from BBC News Yaounde (reproduced at Jackaranda's blog), if a medical doctor determines that damage has been caused to the breasts, the responsible party may be jailed for up to three years. It is unclear whether there are other penalties for breast ironing, but I would hate to think that the Cameroon's criminal code is primarily directed at protecting the breast rather than the young girl herself. After all, a young girl can feel pain even if her breasts survive the process.
African feminist pioneer: The story of Sita Bella, a Cameroonian woman who led an extraordinary life, is rather inspiring. She was Cameroon's first female journalist, first female pilot, and one of Africa's first female filmmakers-- no small shakes in a highly patriarchal society. She was also a writer, guitarist, and model. The sad news is that she is no longer with us, having died earlier this year. Even worse, as blogger Dibussi Tande reports, she died in obscurity and poverty, virtually forgotten in her own country until after she died.
Sisters in Law fight Patriarchy: Dibussi Tande also reports that "Cameroon's Patriarchy Gets a Lashing from Sisters in Law," a documentary regarding a woman prosecutor, Vera Ngassa, and a woman judge, Beatrice Ntuba, who deal with crimes against women and girls, "often fighting deeply entrenched attitudes and a male-dominated power structure to find justice," according to this story from NPR. The NPR story also includes an interview with Ngassa and Ntuba, as well as a clip from the film.