Dr Naomi Epongse Nkealah: exploring gender and sexuality in African literature
Dr Naomi Nkealah is a senior lecturer in the department of English studies at Unisa. She has a master’s degree (with distinction) in pan-African literature from the University of Pretoria (UP), which included a series of “best student” awards in different modules between 2004 and 2006. Nkealah obtained her PhD in African literature from Wits in 2011, where she also did part-time lecturing.
From 2012 to 2015, Nkealah was a full-time senior lecturer at the University of Limpopo, serving as deputy chairperson (2013) and chairperson (2014) of the University of Limpopo’s Women’s Academic Solidarity Association. Her contributions to the association centred on mentoring women academics in research productivity and excellence, as well as steering the organisation towards sustainable development.
Specialising in feminist theory and African women’s writing, Nkealah explores the intersections of gender and sexuality in African literature. Her aim is to bring the voices of emerging women writers into the mainstream. These writers include South African poet Gabeba Baderoon and Cameroonian playwright Anne Tanyi-Tang, whose published works not only offer salient additions to African epistemologies, but also challenge the marginalisation of certain clusters of women’s writing.
Nkealah’s has successfully supervised three young, black, South African women (one master’s and two honours students). She is currently supervising four master’s students, in addition being an external examiner for theses and dissertations from various universities. She also does peer reviews for a wide range of journals in her area of expertise.
She has published widely in South African journals such as English in Africa and the English Academy Review,in international journals such as Research in African Literatures and A Review of International English Literature, as well as in edited books such as Style in African Literature: Essays on Literary Stylistics and Narrative Styles. To date, Nkealah has presented papers at 14 local and international conferences. She is working on a book on gendered violence and human rights in African literature and film — a collaborative project with internationally acclaimed feminist scholar, Obioma Nnaemeka.
Her Y1 NRF-rating positions her as a leading emerging researcher in her field, with great potential to become an internationally established scholar. She has received several awards, including the Most Resourceful Staff Member Award from the University of Limpopo (2013), a Golden Key Membership Award from the Golden Key Society (2012), and a Scholarship for Young Academics and Scientists from the German academic exchange programme DAAD (2009).