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Adults Only teaser: Q&A with Tiffany Kagure Mugo

11. Tiffany Kagure MugoJoanne Hichens – editor of the Adults Only, the second annual Short.Sharp.Stories Awards anthology – interviews Tiffany Kagure Mugo. Her story “Coming Into Self-Awareness” won the Publisher’s Choice Award for Best New Voice.

Tiffany Kagure Mugo is co-founder of HOLAAfrica and Director of social media consultancy Kagure Konceptions. As a pseudo-academic, she also has had a paper on how sexuality plays out on social media published in Agenda Journal. This is the first story she has written since she stopped writing her mother stories in crayon, and she blogs on the various sites that will agree to host her crazy and sometimes contentious thoughts, such as Mail and Guardian at Thought Leader and Women.

Your story “Coming Into Self-Awareness” is an exuberant discovery of personally gratifying sexuality. What sparked the story?

The story was sparked after many conversations with friends and just random women about the whole idea of “self-love” and after hearing too many “I had my first orgasm in 2013” (after like 7 years of sex) and “he doesn’t really know what he is doing” stories. Much wine and many conversations later, I began to realize that the delay was probably a case of not knowing what you want. So the story was essentially sparked by a series of chardonnay infused ‘ah-hah’ moments during conversations with women about sex.

I enjoyed the subtle references to Africa as ‘Woman’ who needs to discover for herself what she likes and wants. Can you comment on this?

I am a little obsessed with the idea of a powerful re-born Africa, so it is an idea that I try to sneak into everything I do. It is sad to see how we sometimes stumble around on the international stage shouting about “African identity” and “African ways”, but then in the same breath do some very strange self-destructive things. What better to explore this idea than in the safe confines of a story of a woman’s search to climax. It really was just a marrying of the two things that seems to work.

I picked up a wonderful tweet from you: “After telling my mom about the @ShortSharpAward and that the story was erotica she asked what (at 25) I know about sex.” I laughed when I read this. Does your mom still think you don’t know a thing about sex? Has your mom read the story?

My mother has the view that once one is 30 years old or married, suddenly the vaults of sexual knowledge are open to you. Before then, what business do you have knowing about the birds and the bees and the ins and the outs? According to her, the idea that people are having sex at young ages is something as unbelievably ridiculous as unicorns taking pixies for rides in the park. She was not about to engage with the notion that I knew enough about sex to write a story. Needless to say she has not read the story.

You have also written for a site called “Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women…”, which I take your Mom doesn’t know about!

Adventures is an AMAZING site started in 2009 by Nana Darkoa and her friend, Malaka. It publishes stories about sex and sexuality from women around the continent and encourages women to submit their stories. I have contributed to it a number of times (I told Nana it was training for this).

There is some extremely steamy stuff on there but also some really thought provoking pieces. Pieces about masturbation, giving head, coming out, enjoying sex, everything. It’s a really good peek into the sex lives of African women. Not always safe to read at work, but I love it!

What did it mean to you to be named “Publisher’s Choice” for your story?

I. Was. Ecstatic. I could not even deal with my own existence at that moment in time when I found out. The story took some time to write, because of the general cringe factor of having to re-read the stuff you write about sex. But to win the Publisher’s Choice gave the rubber stamp that what I had written was not absolute insanity that should be confined to the pages of some low-grade porn magazine. This was a great feeling.

Is there an overarching theme to your work? What are your interests as a writer?

The overarching theme is usually sexuality in some way, shape or form. It’s a key idea within most of the writing I do. That and politics, and when the two mix all the better. They usually form the focus of my written work (a.k.a insane ramblings). They are helpful topics when it comes to the style of writing I like, which consists of picking holes in the way things work, mostly out of necessity, but sometimes for fun and to upset people.

Can you comment on sex and sexuality in South Africa? I know it’s a broad question, but does it bring up anything in particular for you?

The idea of sex and sexuality in South Africa is such an intense idea, in a good and a bad way. There is a ‘wildness’ to it, because it seems people love and hate the idea at the same time. There is clearly a sexual nature and undertone to the social interactions (just play some music and watch people move). And then at the same time having an ounce of sexuality on display can be damning, because it can get you raped in a public space or jeered at for being a slut or any number of things. Again the dichotomy exists in the fact that on the one hand the country is supposedly the ‘Gay Capital Of Africa’ but on the other is the place where the idea of ‘corrective rape’ was born. It is such an oxymoron; you can get a headache just thinking about it.

So what next? More stories on the boil?

Having just stumbled into this crazy world called writing, I do not actually have any other work as this is ‘baby’s first (print) story’.

But certainly not ‘baby’s’ last! Thanks, Tiffany, for such a brave, erotic, and enthusiastic story.

Adults Only

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