Listed by ELLE (considered the world’s largest fashion magazine having over 69 million readers, with an audience of mostly women), as one of the “12 women changing the world,” Minna Salami is a Nigerian-Finnish writer, speaker, blogger, feminist thinker and consultant. She is also the founder of MsAfropolitan; a multiple award-winning feminist blog attracting nearly a million unique visits yearly.
Minna was born in Tampere, Finland in 1978 to a Nigerian father from Abeokuta in Ogun State, and Finnish mother. She grew up in Lagos and lived there till she was 13, before moving to Sweden to finish her secondary school education. Minna graduated from Lund University, Sweden, with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Political Science, and from the university of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) with a Master of Arts degree (MA). In 2016, she participated at the Hong Kong Baptist University, International Writers’ Workshop as a fellow. She is proficient in five languages and has lived in Nigeria, Sweden, Spain, New York and London.
Apart from writing and blogging, she’s also a speaker and what I would call a feminist thinker. You could say with everything she does, the purpose of her work, including lecturing at universities, is about changing values into more progressive and equalitarian values for both sexes and people of African heritage. Her work is centered on women inequality, as well as the African renaissance and the promotion of a new set of African values.
Minna writes for the UK Guardian, as well as a monthly column for The Guardian Nigeria and a Huffington Post blog. She talks about the struggles of being a woman in Nigeria and how women can disengage from the shackles of patriarchy and why feminism is not a new concept for Nigerian women.
When she was asked how she encourages women to surmount several obstacles and patriarchal mentality, she said: “Setting an example is very important and this can be achieved by sharing insight. So many of these obstacles are self-imposed and there are things society says you cannot do as a woman, but you find out that if you push yourself, you can do them. What I try to do is to say and show a path towards fearlessness, because when you’re fearless, you will do whatever you want to do despite what society says. It’s more about the mindset, the psychological change and this is what I try to do with my work. I believe we can change laws, but the important thing is to change our psychology to empower women, to tell the society that we can do what we want to, whether it’s getting an education, choosing to stay unmarried and so on.
If we change the law without changing the mentality, nothing has changed. For instance, contraceptives can be made readily available, but if women still think it’s a sin to use them, they wouldn’t still use them. I try to focus on psychological, as well as spiritual change, because the psyche and the spirit are the same in many ways. My dream is for Nigerian women to be spiritually and psychologically healthy and empowered and this doesn’t mean just going to churches or mosques, but to be wholly and truly healthy and empowered. Whatever I do, I ask myself how I can contribute to this dream, so that other women feel inspired to go on a journey of their own spiritual empowerment. It is important to join prayer to revolution, because prayer alone is not enough.
She is passionate about juggling writing, blogging, lecturing and so on, as they keep her going. Even if she weren’t doing something that gives her a paycheck or keeps her occupied career-wise, she would still do what she does. She always tries to reach out to young girls and women, even in her spare time. She loves to keep women informed, because truthfully, there is a dearth of information and we all know information is empowerment.
Most women have no idea what is available to them and the press has a huge responsibility to encourage civil society engagement. Salami elaborating on the objective of her establishing the MsAfropolitan blog, stated: “Blogs about African society were male-dominant and the feminist blogs I came across were Eurocentric. Most of the African feminist writing I encountered was either academic or fiction writing. It was brilliant work…but I longed to read popular cultural commentary about Africa from a feminist angle and commentary about feminism from an African angle.”
Minna Salami is a recipient of a number of awards such as the “40 African Change-makers under 40” of Applause Africa. She has been named one of “50 Remarkable Women Connected” by Nokia, one of “Nigeria’s 100 most influential women” by YNaija, and one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Black People on Digital/Social Media” by Eelan Media. She has also received the “Outstanding Achievement in Media” award in 2013, which is an Africa Diaspora Award, and the Women 4 Africa 2013 “Blogger of the Year” award. RED Magazine listed her as “Blogger of the Year” for 2012.
Minna Salami is the author of the internationally acclaimed book, ‘Sensuous Knowledge’: A Black Feminist Approach for Everyone (2020). Translated into several languages, Sensuous Knowledge has been called “intellectual soul food” (Bernardine Evaristo), “vital” (Chris Abani) and a “metaphysical journey into the genius the West hasn’t given language to” (Johny Pitts). She is the co-director of the feminist movement Activate and a Senior Research Associate at Perspectiva. She sits on the advisory board of the African Feminist Initiative at Pennsylvania State University and the editorial board of the Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of the Sahel. She has over ten thousand followers on Instagram. The 43 year old blogger’s net worth is between $1 million-$5 million.