The sharp-witted and fearless Akosua Hanson fights for sexuality and gender freedom in Ghana with her online graphic novel series Moongirls.
Written to empower and liberate LBQT+ youth, Akosua Hanson is an activist fighting under the shadow of censorship and violence from the government.
What’s it like to be a woman in Africa, specifically Ghana?
To be an empowered feminist woman and try to live the way you want is not an easy thing.
People treat you as though you are different or difficult to get along with.
A very sexually empowered woman has a lot of stereotypes placed on her.
Also, men love to prey on sexually free women.
However, In the end, they still have patriarchal motives.
It’s still ‘I’ll make you my side-chick, but you are not someone I respect as a lover, a partner’. It’s all of these things and more.
If men come from women, why do they disrespect them? Why do women not educate their sons?
Raising children is not done by parents of the child alone.
The child is born into not just the family, but also the societal world.
For instance, my parents raised me as a very empowered girl.
However, moving out of the home to the schools or to my work places, people have their own notions of how a girl or a woman is supposed to be.
Education happens not just from the parent or the mother, it’s also from the father.
In patriarchal Africa, the father is supposed to be seen as the head of the family.
What he says goes, and then it goes out to society.
That’s why finding solutions to problems, has to be very well rounded — with the individual and the whole society — because ultimately, it’s the whole society that raises the child.
For a long time, society has been run under a system of male patriarchy where the woman is seen as lesser than.
So if that’s what society thinks, that’s what the child will just imbibe by energy. All of us.
How is Moongirls changing society?
Oh, man. Moongirls is trying to use the magic, right?
Trying to bring magic to tell new stories and create new narratives.
We are living in a world of patriarchy.
Moongirls is trying to rewrite histories to make them center on the woman’s story.
What if the story of creation did not begin with Adam and Eve?
What if it began with Eve and Lilith and the Great Universe?
You find that it’s from these basic stories that people draw their notions of ways to be.
Ghana is a very Christian society.
They believe in the Bible as the facts of life.
We are trying to create new stories in our time.
Maybe 100 years from now,
Moongirls would be a new Bible or platform.
People will have a new way of thinking on women’s rights.
That’s what we are trying to do with Moongirls.
Moongirls is trying to also solve societal problems today.
For instance, corruption in our countries, rape culture, homophobia and climate change.
Since Moongirls isn’t officially offered in the schools, how do you reach out to young people?
That’s such a great question.
We’ve made it a digital graphic novel series that’s free to download.
And the thing is, I’m living in Accra, Ghana, which in this year alone they arrested and imprisoned 21 LGBTQ activists.
And did so many other things.
Actually, there’s a bill that’s been introduced to parliament to be able to imprison activists like me and to ban literature like Moongirls because it supports LBQT youth rights.
So, we do not necessarily have the leeway and freedom to go into schools, give it to children or teenagers because the literature is also adult literature, really.
So, it’s for 18 and above.
What we’ve done is to try to put it online and make it a digital comic that’s available on your whatsapp scrolls or it can be shared with other people.
Another thing we are doing are Moongirls book clubs.
These are community engagements where people come to a gallery.
For instance, we have a Moongirls art exhibition running and then people sit down and talk about the chapters in the comic.
The issues that it raises, looking at themselves and how they can change the way they operate in society and things like that.
We had an art exhibition and book club this month on the 17th of September.
How can we support Moongirls and your activism as Akosua Hanson?
Share the website with people. Let them know that this exists.
People should feel free to engage with the literature.
We also have chapter afterthoughts included in the download with questions about the issues in the comic and you can leave your thoughts and comments.
It’s how we learn about the impact on your minds as you read the graphic novel.
Read and download the series at www.moongirls.live
Recommend the book as we need to have the Moongirls graphic novels discussed, you know?
Things like that. Thank you.
How important is sex in a human being’s life? Why do you think it’s important for society to be free regarding sex and gender?
I feel like sex and sexual freedom is the basic atom of nature, it’s a beginning of creation.
Sex and sexuality are a spiritual prayer at a time where I feel like engaging with different energies and spaces.
And it doesn’t necessarily mean birth in the traditional sense.
It means creation.
It can even just be two people sitting alone in a room in silence and engaging consciously.
That energy exchange is sex, right?
That it’s actually necessary for human beings to have it as the force that moves us to do things.
If I wake up with the love and the dopamine that a sex rush gives me, it makes me more joyful to go to work and things like that.
It makes me do the work.
It allows the universe to flow.
It’s through sex and sexuality that trees and plants and the Earth and its revolution occur for me.
It’s a love story between the Sun and the Earth.
That’s why the Sun doesn’t get so hot as to burn us or scorch the earth to cinders, right?
They have a love story.
That is why they decide ‘I’ll come up at this time and I’ll go down at this time, so you can also survive in this way.
That’s a sex story.
When you control a human being’s sexuality, then you can control everything, including the political?
Exactly, I 100% agree because we recognize the power of sexuality, and it’s not just for artists and for the domestic space.
It’s in the political and economic spaces, which is why there’s a lot of global legislation to police sexual freedom and do things that caricature and endanger queer and trans minorities.
When you have power over that basic flow of life, then you have power over the resources, you have power over the people, you have power over their happiness, their well-being.
It really is a mentality thing.
Imagine a whole society of people whose sexual freedoms have been restricted.
You are making human beings act artificial and not natural.
The system will be able to control them in specific ways because they are not moving, flow-freeing human beings.
It’s all power. It’s all control.
But it also doesn’t make sense because you need flow for everyone to be prosperous, right?
You alone cannot be prosperous with one percent of the world’s wealth and think that you are safe from the problems of the Earth.
When something is happening in Haiti, it affects all of us, all around the world.
Climate change is an example of this.
Do you think typical gender identities will continue in the future? Or will we find new concepts? Akosua Hanson says:
I think we are actually finding new concepts.
We are now seeing that people are realizing or coming back to the knowledge that gender is actually a spectrum.
In pre-colonial Africa, before we were colonized by the Portuguese and the British and the French, a lot of African ethnic groups and cultures actually did believe in the concept of gender as a spectrum.
We even saw trans people as a gateway to the gods because they were androgynous.
That’s a knowledge that already existed on the Earth.
And within African traditional philosophy, personhood is not based on gender or clan or whatever, a person is their specific energy, their divinity.
For instance, the idea of becoming a person in African traditional thought is you are not a person just because you were born.
It’s societal status, it’s how you live your life on Earth, how you contribute to society and family, and that’s what defines your personhood, not your gender.
The African continent had this knowledge before we were colonized.
After colonization we had this binary thinking of male and female roles because these were power structures needed for a capitalistic society, right?
Now there are a lot of culture wars.
In this modern time, we use the terms LGBTQ+, but people also use other terms.
In many African languages, when I’m referring to you, it doesn’t translate to he or she.
The meaning of the word onipa is the meaning of person, but it’s a gender neutral term. It’s just the person, it’s the energy you’re referring to.
If I want to say, “she said…”. in my language it would translate to, “they said… ‘’.
We are definitely going into the future to return to the past because the ancient knowledge was there.
Young Akosua Hanson came from a supportive family — you could have ignored the broken parts of society — why did you make the choice to be an activist?
Because if one part of society is not whole, I won’t be whole.
Patriarchy still affects me. My parents raised me in a good home and teached me to be an empowered woman. I wasn’t ever made to feel lesser than my brother.
In fact, my mom didn’t force me to go to the kitchen.
Actually, I’d be reading, and she’d bring me food and I would spend the whole day just reading.
She didn’t mind that her daughter was learning.
However, I have to enter society.
I go into workplaces for job interviews and then men are trying to sleep with me.
And my work is in entertainment, so I’m open to sexual harassment.
Definitely open to just the way people see women and how they are supposed to be, right?
I just had a call with someone who was trying to book an event at a space I run and they used terms like sweetie or my love or my hon.
No, we are doing business.
I am not your sweetie. I’m not your love.
But yeah, it affects you.
I don’t necessarily put myself out there, but I’ve always been put in that leadership role from school and so I find myself being made to do these kinds of things in society.
But I really don’t want to always do this. I want to rest. I want to live and I want to be happy.
Is this the one life I have?
But I guess feminism is my life, right? It’s the way I found my free.
Because of feminism, I’ve been able to find my free in this society.
Where do you see yourself in the future? What about Akosua Hanson for President?
No, no, no. It’s too much stress. No. Oh my goodness, no.
In the future I want to be amongst the masters and creators.
I want to be with people like you who are creating magic spaces in this world.
I want to be in that space where we are always birthing new things and new innovations.
That’s really what I want for my life. And that’s what I’m trying to enact now — always creating something new, something loving for people, something wonderful and innovative.
Every morning I wake up it’s going to be a call on art and that should be a great thing, right? Or a call on a sex article you need to write or have sex so that you can write this really good book.
What is your final message for people?
We should all find our free, find our harmony, find our sex energy, our rights and then just love — love ourselves, so we know how to love others, right?
Before giving, be ready to evolve, be ready to create space for yourself and for others. Because if we keep evolving, there’s always going to be new knowledge.
There are always going to be new ways to find how to be more in union with each other.
So, space, love, harmony would be my final message.
FINDING AKOSUA HANSON & MOONGIRLS
MOONGIRLS GRAPHICS BY ANIMAXFYB STUDIOS
PHOTOS BY FROZZEN SECOND STUDIOS
GLAM BY EPHYA