A pioneering work of cultural reclamation more than a decade in preparation, Women Writing Africa, Volume 3: The Eastern Region collects more than a hundred texts dating back to 1711, each introduced with short notes. In the 1960s, the five countries represented—Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia—achieved independence. Women made historic contributions in the resistance struggles and later during the process of development, as entries from activists and eloquent members of parliament attest.

The volume boasts entries of uncommon historical interest including two rare texts by former slave women; a 1711 letter written by a woman who ruled a large Muslim domain; a mid-19th-century Muslim epic poem, freshly translated; a Christian hymn dating to 1890; and a memoir by a Mau Mau general. The 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Lecture by Wangari Maathai, the first environmentalist and the first African woman named a Nobel laureate, concludes the volume.

While Kiswahili and English are the dominant languages of the region, 31 other languages have been translated for the volume. Motherhood, education, religion, workforce participation, widows’ rights, prostitution, polygamy, circumcision, rebellion, and HIV/AIDS are some of the subjects examined in fiction, poetry, letters, journalism, oral histories, speeches, and historical documents spanning three centuries.