Kola Boof on Spirituality
Kola Boof, a woman of controversy ~ author, activist, mother, harlot, opportunist, poet, womanist.
Kola graces us with a rare interview, which offers insights into a spiritual woman, something often not seen in this woman with such a sensational life story...
Born the daughter of a Somali princess & an Egyptian archeologist, her father broke Islamic law to allow his daughter to eat meals with him. Both her parents were murdered before her when her father dared to publicly claim that he witnessed slave raids. Her Egyptian grandmother received custody, but decided that because Kola was too black, she wouldn't fit into the family. So Kola was adopted, via UNICEF, by a black American family & has American citizenship.
Kola the young woman, feeling "very displaced, passionate and emotional" ended up finding male protectors ~ first to get food & lodging, then later as a "paid party girl" for people like Moamar Khadafi and Egypt's President Mubarak & even making low budget Arabic films. "Films weren't my idea. Men kept telling me that I had such an incredible body and that I should be entertaining them with it. I wanted men's approval very desperately, especially black men."
She adds "They were horrible parts! I played topless lesbian vampires and ancient Queens presiding over sinful Arabic orgies. I am very ashamed of that work, but I did it, so I must confess it." And recently Kola made the news for being held against her will as the former mistress of Osama bin Laden.
For her youthful insecurity & transgressions of use of her own sexuality she has been attacked by feminists as an opportunist & a 'temptress.' These anti-feminist cries even continue when she insists upon honoring her lineage by appearing bare breasted in her author photos on the back of her book covers:
"I am topless to honor my mothers and grandmothers, my own African womenfolk who were always bare breasted in the sun and who gave birth to this whole world. They created and sustained the natural world. They were naked not because they were backwards and didn't know any better... but because they had done nothing wrong. They were not dirty and soiled by man's greed and violence."
And when she voices her thoughts on patriarchy, she's called a manhater. Kola can't win, can she? Yet none of this stops her.
Kola is an outspoken Black woman who has done wonderful things, including supporing the rights of homosexuals in Africa. For not being silent, her former publisher was firebombed for her works; she has received threats from Osama bin Lauden; & she was found guilty of "treason against Sudan" and "blasphemy against Islam" by the Islamic government of Sudan, which has placed a price on her head (fatwa).
Kola has done wonderful things, but mostly people recall her name for scandalous reasons. Until her upcoming memoir (due out this summer) is published, it is in this interview that we learn more about Kola, the woman.
You have stated in numerous interviews & press statements that you are
a womanist. Please define 'womanist' and how you see that carried out in
your life, or how a woman can be considered a womanist.
A womanist is a black feminist, and for me personally, I didn't really
distinguish between feminist and womanist until American White Feminists
began to reject me for appearing topless on the back of my books and for
focusing my work on the separation of realities that exists for authentic black
women, bi-racial women and white women.
One term that I truly hate is this thing "women of color". That's as bad as saying Women and Minorities. It just doesn't do justice to my experience as a woman with chocolate skin and African hair. So I prefer to use the word "womanist", and I do believe that black women are more womanly...than feminine.
You've been infibulated ~ Please tell us how old you were, & the
custom or situation in which this occurred. This practice, is it a part of
'culture' or done in the name of 'religion,' at least in the minds of
the those who carry it out... In reality, what has this done to you,
as a woman, a being?
I was either infibulated at birth or at around 3 years old, which
are the two times that people in my neighborhood do it. I did not know
that my vagina was cut and sewn shut until I came to the United States
and was examined by a doctor at around 6 years old. Like so many
Sudanese women, I don't truly know my age.
It is both cultural (derived from Arab nomads circa 700) and it is religious being favored mostly by Muslims in Egypt and Sudan, although it is not written
about anywhere in the Koran as being a requirement. It's basically for the
men's sexual pleasure, although no one would ever say that openly. It is to
make the vagina overly tight and to "set it" for life, so that the man has the
psychological excitement of "rape" during intercourse. For the woman it is very
painful, but you learn to live with it and you get used to it.
When I came to this country, my adoptive American parents wanted to have me corrected--but I refused, because having the marks on me was my only connection to my birth mother. It is all that I have left of her, so I kept it.
The only advantage to having it is that I could always be a virgin---with each new man. And the men thought I was so virtuous and a good woman, because it was
so very hard to penetrate me. So I benefitted financially from men's generosity when they think that they are the first and only one to get it.
You've clearly had some negative experiences with the world's religions. Please describe how you view religions as they stand today.
I see all the major religions as "man-made", imposed on us by slavery, war and
might, and I consider them to be woman-hating and racist, which is why I have
crafted my own little make-shift religion that I call "the womb", which is basically a mixture of the men's religions---only with generous doses of feminism injected into the various mantras and psalms. I believe that woman is more God than man, and that man is more animal. Not by birth, but by social order. The ones who are oppressed are forced to become more God, and the ones who get to live in a kind of perpetual state of child-likeness are prone to animal impulses. We're all equally human, and my prayer is to love all men and all women---someday.
Religion has become a political tool, especially in your home country of Sudan. Please describe how in the name of God men have claimed control of women, sexual orientation, race etc. And why do you think this is so? Is it that men feel the need to control that which they fear most?
Well, you said. Men try to control that which they fear the most, and if they can't control it--they rebel against it.
This is why I say that the White Man is NOT the devil, because I consider the Black Man the devil as well. Of course, I would devote my loyalties mostly to the black one, because he is the one that comes out of my womb---but I have known all men to be the exact same. And the richer and more successful ones are usually less insecure and abusive than the ones who are poor, oppressed and without power. Then again, some men are very loving and sensitive and have accepted love and closeness from me.
There is a difference between spirituality & religion. How do you see spirituality as able to exist beyond or in spite of religion?
Spirituality is personal...whereas Religion is an Institution through
which we carry out social religious orders dictated by wise people and power sources.
But the spirit is the pure part that can't be faked or feared or even seen by the naked eye. Spirituality is the God in you and you're born with it and it grows with you and you die with it, and then through it...you live forever.
In Sudan, in your travels, do you see glimpses of women retaining their
spirituality? If so, how?
I see the women who are the least desired, the ones who spend the least time
under a man's thumb as the ones with the most spiritual freedom.
And I would say that in Sudan, because it is part of the Nilotic World (which is a sensual world that was originally Goddess based) there is enormous spirituality and mysticism and magic--and it's tangible, you can almost touch it. But also, many women carry out the men's evil and their sexism and that is present as well. So there is a dense, tragic reality for women.
In Africa, I would say that the vast majority of women are not loved unless it's by children or each other. They come into the world and leave out of it without really knowing love from men---and that degrades the spirit. And in America, I find as well, that most people really don't know what love is. Even many
feminists who have these lists of what men are supposed to PROVE.
There are many women who do not consider spirituality to be part of their sexuality. Please try to explain how you see a connection between the two.
Well I come from black women of the Nile River---so to me, your sexuality is the physical nerve ending of your spirituality.
Through sexual impulses and feelings, you express whatever passion or sadness or lustful hunger that is washing over you at a given moment.
You use sex as an art form to express what a song cannot express. That is why dancing can be so sexual. It is the same spiritual energy. For me, sex is up there with good sleep and good food. If you have plenty of those three things, then you will be a happy, healthy person.
In your press release, you call your religion The Womb. Even though
you admit it has not been organized, can you tell us more about how you see
I see it mainly as a kind of meditation whereby women get very quiet
in a serene place and allow the truth---whatever it is----to flow within them and to heal them or inspire them to action.
I see it as acceptance of my personal reality and as freedom to go on and live my life---my way.
In your book "Flesh and the Devil" you use lore to start the story. Is part of the story of this book about the relationship between humans & religion as well as the spiritual connection between the lovers themselves?
Yes, the entire book is spiritual, because it's about ultimate love (out of body) and about never dying. The people, through their children, live over and over again. And it's an intensely sexual, spiritual, political journey that really insists on and documents the worth and beauty of black people.
And with that, we will wait to continue the conversation with Kola, until we read & review her book!
For more on Kola, visit her website, KolaBoof.com.