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A beautiful feminist mind divorced from self-indulgence – Kwanele Sosibo reviews Reflecting Rogue

Reflecting Rogue is the much anticipated and brilliant collection of experimental autobiographical essays on power, pleasure and South African culture by Professor Pumla Dineo Gqola.

In her most personal book to date, written from classic Gqola antiracist, feminist perspectives, Reflecting Rogue delivers 20 essays of deliciously incisive brain food, all extremely accessible to a general critical readership, without sacrificing intellectual rigour.

These include essays on ‘Disappearing Women’, where Gqola spends time exploring what it means to live in a country where women can simply disappear – from a secure Centurion estate in one case, to being a cop in another, and being taken by men who know them.

‘On the beauty of feminist rage’ magically weaves together the shift in gender discourse in South Africa’s public spheres, using examples from #RUReferenceList, #RapeAtAzania and #RememberingKhwezi.

Reflecting Rogue takes on both the difficulties and rewards of wilfully inhabiting our bodies in ‘Growing into my body’, while ‘Belonging to myself’ uncovers what it means to refuse the adversarial, self-harming lessons patriarchy teaches us about femininity.

In ‘Mothering while feminist’ Gqola explores raising boys as a feminist – a lesson in humour, humility and patience from the inside. In ‘Becoming my mother’ the themes of fear, envy, adoration and resentment are unpacked in mother-daughter relationships. While ‘I’ve got all my sisters with me’ explores the heady heights of feminist joy, ‘A meditation on feminist friendship with gratitude’ exposes a new, and more personal side to ever-incisive Gqola.

Reflecting Rogue comes to a breath-taking end in ‘A love letter to the Blackman who raised me’.

Gender activist, award-winning author and full professor of African Literature at Wits University, Pumla Dineo Gqola has written extensively for both local and international academic journals. She is the author of What is Slavery to Me? (Wits University Press), A Renegade Called Simphiwe (MFBooks Joburg) and Rape: A South African Nightmare (MFBooks Joburg).

Kwanele Sosibo recently reviewed Reflecting Rogue for the Mail & Guardian. Here’s what he had to say:

In a section titled Departures at the back of her new book of autobiographical essays, Pumla Dineo Gqola, a professor at Wits University’s department of African literature, lists the topics not covered in Reflecting Rogue: Inside the Mind of a Feminist.

In some ways, Reflecting Rogue is defined as much by the things that are left out of its pages as by what is within. If nothing else, it confirms Gqola as a deeply private person, unwilling to commit the writer’s sin of betraying her loved ones in the name of forging intimacy with her readers.

In this sense, it is a principled book. More than being about biographical detail, Reflecting Rogue, Gqola’s fourth and “most personal” book, is about ideas and a celebration of the networks and examples it takes to sustain a living feminism.

Those expecting a memoir need to kill their inner voyeur, it turns out. There are no dewy-eyed reflections of her tenure at Wits, which started in 2007. There are no salacious, rare glimpses into the private life of a public individual. No self-congratulatory moments about writing books (in particular, A Renegade Called Simphiwe and Rape: A South African Nightmare) that have shaped South Africa’s public discourse in landmark ways and, disturbingly, little in the form of #FeesMustFall, especially with Wits being the epicentre of the economically focused incarnation of #RhodesMustFall.

The paragraph in which Gqola explains her stance is unnerving to a degree but perhaps it offers a glimpse into her headspace while she was selecting pieces for the book: “I am also still so raw from the violence unleashed on some university campuses in response to #FeesMustFall that I have included nothing in here about the Fallists, except in brief mention in some chapters … my position on #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall are both public knowledge, since I have written on it before.”

I had the fortuitous twin accidents of interviewing Gqola for a different project and acquiring an electronic copy of her book around the time of Women’s Day. The latter would have been an otherwise empty coincidence, except that Gqola’s chapter “On the Beauty of Feminist Rage” provides some timeous reflection on feminism in action, ensnared as it is by the fences of a patriarchal society.

The chapters in which Gqola details the sacrifices she and her circle of friends made in order to help raise each other’s children in the face of the rigours of professional life are more poignant than any academese. Her memories of the iconoclasts who shaped her formative years (like her nonconformist schoolmate Pam, who hated needlework but loved gardening) present feminism as both organic and malleable.

In “On the Beauty of Feminist Rage”, she turns to Caribbean-American poet, essayist and activist June Jordan’s 1980 Poem for South African Women. Gqola writes that “she [Jordan] reminds us that women’s action is easy to celebrate retrospectively for those who have no real interest in creating a world friendly to women, a world fully owned by all.”

Gqola’s pondering sets up a dilemma. “While we have clear ideas of the work women in different groupings did in order to make the historic march possible, we are often at a loss as to what a new women’s movement might look like,” she writes. Many have declared it dead, she says.

From the anecdotes Gqola segues into, one can surmise that, in the parlance of the day, she considers the movement to be captured by old modes and the overarching “matrix” of “heteropatriarchy” rather than being wilfully dead.

Gqola tells the story of the August 2012 ANC Women’s League-led march that was disrupted by activists from the One in Nine Campaign, which changed the tenor of that demonstration.

Then there was another momentous protest, far removed from the histrionics of August. The nationally recorded, savvy #RememberKhwezi silent protest by Simamkele Dlakavu, Tinyiko Shikwambane, Naledi Chirwa and Amanda Mavuso in April 2016 pointed at new modes of disruption.

But besides that moment, all four of those protesters are constantly engaged in feminist work, writes Gqola.

Continue reading here.

Reflecting Rogue

Book details

 
 

 
 

Rape

“How we emerge from this terrible tragedy will depend on how seriously we take the challenges it has placed before us.” In line with the anniversary of the Marikana massacre, read an extract from Z Pallo Jordan’s Letters to my Comrades

In line with the anniversary of the Marikana massacre, read the following extract from Z Pallo Jordan’s Letters to my Comrades: Interventions & Excursions. Here Jordan wrote about the massacre and his views on the role of the ANC.

The book is scheduled to be in stores next week.
 
 

Remembering Bisho – and Marikana

September 2012

This (untitled) lecture was an address to the Eastern Cape legislature in September 2012, the tenth anniversary of the Bisho shootings, but also just weeks after the Marikana massacre.

The credibility of the ANC is probably the lowest it has been since 1990! The leadership has been stripped of its dignity! The best advice one can offer our movement caught in a hole is: ‘stop digging!’

How we emerge from this terrible tragedy will depend on how seriously we take the challenges it has placed before us.

It demonstrates the determination of the government to get at the truth that the President appointed a Judicial Commission of Inquiry within days of the shootings. Commendable as the appointment of the commission is, its primary concern will be to establish legal matters of fact relating to the specific events of that fateful day, August 16th. We are confident that the Judicial Commission of Inquiry will conduct its investigations with the appropriate rigour and uncover all the relevant facts.

But Marikana is symptomatic of a much deeper malaise. The all too easy recourse to lethal violence on the part of the Police tells its own terrifying tale. Besieged by new forms of violent crime perpetrated by criminals armed with military hardware, the South African Police Service has been exhorted to meet fire with fire by more than one minister and National Police Commissioner. This might have had the unfortunate consequence of encouraging the use of lethal force.

The sources of the tensions that led to bloodshed on August 16th go far deeper than the specific events that unfolded that day. I want to use this platform to call upon the leadership of the Congress of South African Trade Unions to organise a Workers’ Commission of Inquiry into the Marikana tragedy. COSATU should invite the other two union federations to participate in such a Workers’ Commission that should investigate, amongst other things, the return to South Africa’s mining industry of the ‘native labour touts’, who pitted workers against each other for their own profit in yesteryear, in the shape of labour brokers. The ‘outsourcing’ of recruitment was through labour brokers prevalent in Marikana played a notorious role in piling up the dry tinder of conflict. It should also shed light on the manner in which the mining industry is evading its responsibilities to its work force who live in shanty-towns around the mines.

A Workers’ Commission should also be tasked with investigating the shockingly high levels of violence in our society. An aspect of this violence is the alarmingly high incidence of private gun ownership in this country. The close correlation between high levels of gun ownership and gun-related crime is now well established. The best way to curb gun related crimes is to move towards a gun-free society. The police service in a gun-free society will have no need to carry firearms.

Madam Premier,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Comrades and friends,

Does it sit easily with the membership of the ANC? Does it sit easily with the millions of ANC supporters here at home, and in the world at large that during its centennial year, the government, led by the ANC presided over the first post-democracy state massacre?

How do we explain to the shade of Uncle J.B. Marks that today it is bullets fired from the automatic weapons of our democratic police service that are creating widows and orphans in the villages of the eastern Cape, of Lesotho, of the North-West province?

Who will explain to the martyrs of Bisho that the Police service they laid down their lives to create, also fires live ammunition at demonstrators?

The tensions that erupted in the continuing strike that led to the events of August 16th are in many respects the result of the compromises the movement made to attain the beach-head of democracy in 1994. We substituted BEE for wealth redistribution; we persuaded ourselves to be content with less than what we had fought for, because it was much more than what we had had.

In another context I once raised the question: Will our Black captains of industry behave like the Randlords who incited the Anglo-Boer war and the atrocities of the Concentration Camps? Or will they behave like the latter-day White monopolists who mouthed liberal sentiments, voted for the UP while they profited handsomely from collaborating with apartheid? or would pioneer a new path of corporate responsibility by promoting better working conditions and wages for workers?

Regrettably, it would appear the emergent Black capitalist class have bought into and are being incorporated into the culture of White capital. It might be unpleasant, but the current ANC leadership and the government it leads must accept that it has probably presided over the years of the ANC’s most profound crisis. Which poses the matter of the quality of the movement’s leadership at this moment.

Every movement for political transformation has arrived at this moment of truth sooner or later. During the French Revolution it came on the 18th Brumaire; during the Russian Revolution it was Kronstadt.

Has that moment also arrived for South Africa in the shape of Marikana?

Let Marikana be the moment when to once again take hold of the movement of our people and steer it again towards the sound and sober strategies of the past.

The elective conference that the ANC holds at the end of this year must rise to the challenge of producing a leadership corps that has the will, the moral courage and moral standing to take on task of cleaning the Augean stables of corruption!

The elective conference of the ANC must rise to the challenge of producing a leadership corps that will restore the credibility of the movement amongst its friends and opponents.

The elective conference of the ANC must rise to the challenge of producing a leadership corps that will restore the movement’s reputation and record of compassion.

Only by correcting itself in that manner will the ANC regain the confidence of the democratic forces of this country and take us all on a higher trajectory to a better life for all our people!

Book details

Killing Karoline follows the journey of the baby girl categorised as ‘white’ under SA’s race classification and her struggle with identity, race, and rejection

Killing Karoline deals with important topical issues relating to adoption, identity, race, mental health and addiction.

Born Karoline King in 1980 in Johannesburg South Africa, Sara-Jayne (as she will later be called by her adoptive parents) is the result of an affair, illegal under apartheid’s Immorality
Act, between a white British woman and a black South African man. Her story reveals the shocking lie created to cover up the forbidden relationship, and the hurried overseas adoption of the illegitimate baby, born during one of history’s most inhumane and destructive regimes.

Killing Karoline follows the journey of the baby girl (categorised as ‘white’ under South Africa’s race classification system) who is raised in a leafy, middle-class corner of the South of England by a white couple. It takes the reader through her formative years, a difficult adolescence and into adulthood, as Sara-Jayne (Karoline) seeks to discover who she is and where she came from.

Plagued by questions surrounding her own identity and unable to ‘fit in’ Sara-Jayne begins to turn on herself. She eventually returns to South Africa, after 26 years, to face her demons. There she is forced to face issues of identity, race, rejection and belonging beyond that which she could ever have imagined. She must also face her birth family, who in turn must confront what happens when the baby you kill off at a mere six weeks old returns from the dead.

Sara-Jayne King is a mixed-race South African/British journalist and radio presenter whose career spans over a decade and has taken her across the globe in search of remarkable stories and fascinating characters. While studying for an LLB degree in the UK, Sara-Jayne realised her passion lay elsewhere and, after graduating, she went on to complete a Master’s in Journalism in 2004. Her career began as a junior journalist in local radio in London and since then has included roles in the Middle East and Africa, most recently as a senior editor for news channel eNCA and presenter for Primedia’s talk radio station Cape Talk.

Book details

The launch of Reflecting Rogue was trending on Twitter last night. And with reason.

What do you get when you combine a venue running out wine glasses, the title of your collection of anti-racist, feminist essays trending on Twitter, and an Alan Paton Award-winning author in conversation with one of South Africa’s foremost actresses?

The launch of wunderfrau Pumla Dineo Gqola’s latest book, Reflecting Rogue, that’s what.

Last night Pumla and Rosie Motene discussed Pumla’s hotly-anticipated collection of autobiographical essays at Love Books, Johannesburg.

The following picture hardly gives the turn-out at this thought-provoking, challenging, and raucous event justice:

Rosie and Pumla covered pertinent issue regarding feminism and the policing of women’s bodies, with Pumla asserting that the way society attempts to protect girls ties in with controlling them. She dismisses societal ideals surrounding femininity and imposed gender roles, as well as the notion that women – especially girls – should be ashamed of their genitals, including regarding their vaginas as “filthy”.

Here Pumla shared an incident of her school days where a girl in a locker room was changing, and after having removed her panty for “literally 15 seconds”, refused to wear the same pair again, as the mere thought of her vagina making contact with the material, was too disgusting too bear.

Rosie’s next question was about the autobiographical nature of Feminist Rogue, inquiring whether she would describe it as a memoir. Pumla replied in the negative, also adding that she’s not interested in writing a memoir and that her next idea for a book will be a feminist reflection on Winnie Mandela.

The contentious topic of lobola was raised by Rosie, asking Pumla whether it’s possible to incorporate feminism with lobola; an ideology which is the antithesis of this tradition.

After some deliberation Pumla said “I don’t know” and described lobola as a mess – “and not a good mess.

“I have no idea how to make it less messy,” she candidly answered.

She disclosed that agreeing to a union involving lobola was the worst experience of her life.

Pumla spoke out against the ANC’s (mis)treatment of South African women, citing that “nothing has changed” since Jacob Zuma was acquitted in his rape case in 2005, when he pleaded not guilty to raping Fezekile Ntsukela ‘Khwezi’ Kuzwayo – a case which sparked public outrage, especially after Khwezi’s passing in October 2016, without her ever receiving justice.

She also stated that we have to “stop being so bloody nice” and stop pretending that the ANC Women’s League is doing feminist work. This was met by applause and claps from the riveted crowd.

Pumla described Deputy Minister of Higher Education Mduduzi Manana’s recent assault of Mandisa Duma as a “mind-fuck”, expressing that she cannot fathom how someone who publicly speaks out against sexual assault on campuses nationwide can commit such a deplorable act.

It’s hardly surprising that #ReflectingRogue was trending after only an hour into Pumla and Rosie’s discussion, which was met with glee by the Twitterati.

Yaaaasss indeed, Eusebius.
 

Reflecting Rogue

Book details

Six local authors and publishers on decolonising editing in South Africa: a panel discussion

Malebo Sephodi, Sabata-Mpho Mokae, Rehana Rossouw, Helen Moffett, Dudu Busani-Dube, Redi Tlhabi, and Thabiso Mahlape

 
A panel discussion on decolonising South African editing was recently hosted by Jacana Media at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Panelists Sabata-Mpho Mokae, Malebo Sephodi, Rehana Rossouw, Helen Moffett, and Dudu Busani-Dube were in conversation with the author of Endings & Beginnings and radio presenter, Redi Tlhabi.

Redi opened the floor by posing the question what decolonisation means and how it manifests in African literature.

Sabata-Mpho Mokae, who writes in both English and Setswana, responded by stating that one should Africanise African language writing and not allow colonialism to impact upon it. He used the example of the Setswana word for Sunday, “tshipi”, which roughly translates to “the day we attend church”; a clear remnant of colonialism, yet an established word in Setswana which he continues to use in his work. Sabata added that South Africa has its own English and that he writes any form of English he deems fit.

According to Dudu Busani-Dube, the self-published author of the Hlomu The Wife-series, the only way we can decolonise literature is “if we write in our languages.” She spoke out against the rules which box your writing, emphasising an inherent fear of grammatical errors. Helen Moffett, freelance publisher, journalist, and author, spoke from a publisher’s persepctive, adding that aspirant writers still have the distorted idea of the “model of the old school teacher”; a figure which tells you how and what to write. Many young African writers are deterred from pitching their manuscript ideas to publishers as they’re concerned about possible grammatical mistakes which might count in their disfavour, or that their work lacks a certain literary prestige. Helen dismisses this Eurocentric approach to writing, stating that “nobody else can write your story.”

Dudu Busani-Dube

 

Malebo Sephodi, who’s recent memoir Miss Behave has been met with acclaim by critics and bibliophiles alike, spoke of her duty as an academic to write accessible texts which can reach black women without alienating them. Malebo described academia as western-centric and exclusionary, and she intended to write Miss Behave as a book which will include everyone in the conversation around race, sex, and gender roles in South Africa. She also pertinently mentioned that she wanted a black woman to publish the memoir; someone who could relate to her lived experiences, and refrain from editing critical issues addressed in texts. The book was published by Thabiso Mahlape of BlackBird Books, who was also present at the event.

Malebo Sephodi

 

Journalist and author of What Will People Say, Rehana Rossouw, stated that people learn us through our language, and that her decision to include the slang spoken on the Cape Flats (in What Will People Say) and not the “queen’s English” was a deliberate one. She shared an amusing anecdote of a trip to Lagos where a Lagosian described What Will People Say as a “kwaai” book, with a cousin of him exclaiming “no, no, it was lekker!” She asserted that she writes in English because it’s the language she was raised in, and that she’s going to claim it as such.

Rehana Rossouw

 

Helen expanded on Rehana’s comment on reaching a wide audience and how we’re restricting ourselves as we are not giving ourselves permission to write our own stories; that the presence of the legacy of colonialism is prohibiting African writers to create decolonised texts, without preconceived notions of what writing and literature, as taught in schools, ‘ought’ to be. She added that for an African writer to publish in their own language, they should have already attained a level of success in English.

Sabata reaffirmed this statement, saying that one does reach a wider audience by writing in English, yet he criticised the notion of African authors’ work being set as prescribed books for school children, as “those who write for schools, write in English”, thus ignoring the market for African language texts. He added that students are then forced to read in English, which detracts from encouraging a reading culture in their own indigenous languages.

Redi was curious as to whether Malebo experiences a sense of responsibility, writing as a young, black woman. Malebo responded yes, she has a sense of burden and expectation to write about any subject matter whilst destabilising the trope of black women in South Africa.

Here, Redi made the powerful statement that “black writers invariably become activists” which was met with agreeing murmurs and nods from the audience.

She asked Rehana whether she also felt a sense of burden, to which Rehana drily replied “Yes, I’m very burdened.” Attendees and panelists alike enjoyed a hearty laugh…

“It was my life,” Rehana explained, referring to apartheid-era South Africa. “I want to explain things in my way, the way they have been to me … The past plays out every single day in this country.

“We have to explain things to each other, that’s how we learn.”

***

Watch the live streaming of the discussion here.

And take a look at the audience’s reaction to the discussion here:

 
 

Endings and Beginnings

Book details

 
 
Miss Behave

 
 
 
 
What Will People Say

Declassified: Apartheid profits – Who funded the National Party?

The apartheid state was at war. For two decades before 1994, while internal resistance grew, mandatory sanctions prohibited the sale of strategic goods and arms to South Africa.
The last white regime was confronted with an existential threat.

A global covert network of nearly 50 countries was constructed to counter sanctions. In complete secrecy, allies in corporations, banks, governments and intelligence agencies helped move cash, illegally supply guns and create the apartheid arms money machine. Whistleblowers were assassinated and ordinary people suffered.

This is an exposé of that machinery created in defence of apartheid and the people who made this possible: heads of state, arms dealers, aristocrats, plutocrats, senators, bankers, spies, journalists and members of secret lobby groups.

They were all complicit in a crime against humanity. Motivated by ideology or kinship most sought to simply profit from the war.

Many have until now relied on lingering silence to erase the uncomfortable truth.

This meticulously researched book lifts the lid on some of the darkest secrets of apartheid’s economic crimes, weaving together material collected in over two-dozen archives in eight countries with an insight into tens of thousands of pages of newly declassified documents.

Networks of state capture persist in our democratic political system because the past and present are interconnected. In forging its future a new generation needs to grapple with the persistent silence regarding apartheid-era economic crime and ask difficult questions of those who benefited from it.

This book provides the evidence and the motivation to do so.

Hennie van Vuuren is an activist, writer and Director of Open Secrets, focusing on accountability for economic crimes and human rights violations. He works from within civil society, challenging corruption and the abuse of power.

Open Secrets recently ran the following piece via the Daily Maverick as means to inform the public about the crimes committed as means to fund apartheid:

While researching the recently published book Apartheid Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit, Open Secrets collected approximately 40,000 archival documents from 25 archives in seven countries. This treasure trove contains damning details of the individuals and corporations that propped up apartheid and profited in return. Many of these documents were kept secret until now. Most remain hidden despite South Africa’s transition to democracy. Open Secrets believes that it is vital to allow the public to scrutinise the primary evidence. Here we invite you behind the scenes to look at the documents that informed the book.

The Archive for Contemporary Affairs, a four-storey brown facebrick building at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, is an unassuming place. Yet its 3.5km long shelves of files contain some of the shadiest secrets from South Africa’s past. Many of the National Party’s (NP) most prominent politicians sent their collections, including official NP documents, to this archive. There is no longer a National Party, and it is unclear whether anyone really wants to “own” this memory of oppression that delivered so much paperwork. It is nonetheless a national treasure worthy of far more attention by researchers from across the country.

Despite reading through hundreds of folders from PW Botha’s and FW de Klerk’s archives, the Open Secrets team never expected to be delivered a series of folders marked “National Party donations”. Out of the folders came the signed cheques, fawning letters of thanks and promises of anonymity that secretive party funding demands. Around 70 individual donors were identified in these pages.

The names in the folders? Some of South Africa’s most prominent businessmen, past and present, a few of whom we highlight. While the story of party finance is often revealed only through whispers, in this unassuming archive we had found indisputable documentary evidence. The letters featured here provide a glimpse into the complicity between big business and the oppressive apartheid regime that was, until now, kept secret.

Some donors were unsurprising, given their long-term complicity with the regime. In a letter written in 1988, FW de Klerk informed PW Botha of a R50,000 donation from Barlow Rand (now trading as the large conglomerate, Barloworld). De Klerk notes, “They prefer to keep their contribution confidential…” before stating that one of the companies directors, D.E. Cooper, would handle the donations. Barlow Rand was one of the chief suppliers of technology to the government. Between the 1960s and 1980s the corporation’s leadership sat on PW Botha’s Defence Advisory Board, all the while presenting itself as an enlightened opponent of apartheid. The two-faced nature of many of these corporations and their executives is a theme that runs throughout this collection.

Continue reading here.

Apartheid Guns and Money

Book details

Launch: Reflecting Rogue by Pumla Dineo Gqola (10 August)

Reflecting Rogue is the much anticipated and brilliant collection of experimental autobiographical essays on power, pleasure and South African culture by Professor Pumla Dineo Gqola.

In her most personal book to date, written from classic Gqola antiracist, feminist perspectives, Reflecting Rogue delivers 20 essays of deliciously incisive brain food, all extremely accessible to a general critical readership, without sacrificing intellectual rigour.

These include essays on ‘Disappearing Women’, where Gqola spends time exploring what it means to live in a country where women can simply disappear – from a secure Centurion estate in one case, to being a cop in another, and being taken by men who know them.

‘On the beauty of feminist rage’ magically weaves together the shift in gender discourse in South Africa’s public spheres, using examples from #RUReferenceList, #RapeAtAzania and #RememberingKhwezi.

Reflecting Rogue takes on both the difficulties and rewards of wilfully inhabiting our bodies in ‘Growing into my body’, while ‘Belonging to myself’ uncovers what it means to refuse the adversarial, self-harming lessons patriarchy teaches us about femininity.

In ‘Mothering while feminist’ Gqola explores raising boys as a feminist – a lesson in humour, humility and patience from the inside. In ‘Becoming my mother’ the themes of fear, envy, adoration and resentment are unpacked in mother-daughter relationships. While ‘I’ve got all my sisters with me’ explores the heady heights of feminist joy, ‘A meditation on feminist friendship with gratitude’ exposes a new, and more personal side to ever-incisive Gqola.

Reflecting Rogue comes to a breath-taking end in ‘A love letter to the Blackman who raised me’.

Gender activist, award-winning author and full professor of African Literature at Wits University, Pumla Dineo Gqola has written extensively for both local and international academic journals. She is the author of What is Slavery to Me? (Wits University Press), A Renegade Called Simphiwe (MFBooks Joburg) and Rape: A South African Nightmare (MFBooks Joburg).

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 10 August 2017
  • Time: 6:00 PM for 6:30 PM
  • Venue: Love Books, The Bamboo Lifestyle Centre, 53 Rustenburg Road, Melville, Johannesburg | Map
  • RSVP: Savannah Lucas, rsvp@jacana.co.za
     

    Book Details

Chwayita Ngamlana on her debut novel, abusive relationships and gender-based violence

What is Sex? Sex is a humid climate. What is Desire? Desire is snow. What is Loneliness? Loneliness is a badger trying to figure out why it looks different to an otter. What is Obsession?Obsession is trying to fix a broken chair without realising that the chair is just bent at the knees and that’s how it was born. What is a Dyke? A dyke is an intricate, indecipherable encryption.

Chwayita Ngamlana, in her electric debut book, explores the above questions through her characters as they struggle through the volatility of love, the danger of not knowing themselves and
discovering their voice in the world.

The story follows the characters, Shay and Sip, who are very different in class, style, character and education. Shay is a journalism student working part time as an intern on a site that has no clear sense of direction. Sip is an unemployed varsity drop out and ex-gang member.

Their vastly different lives make it challenging for them to be the kind of couple they so desperately want to be. Unable to get themselves untangled from the web they’ve created, Shay and Sip use money, other people and sex to fix things, but is this enough?

Ngamlama has created a world that is somewhere between the present day and a sub-world of delusion. The reader will want to watch both story and characters unravel. This book will touch anyone who has lost themselves or their loved ones to unhealthy, destructive relationships.

Chwayita Ngamlana was born and raised in Grahamstown. She is an only child who found comfort and companionship in reading and writing from the age of 10. She has a degree in music and has her master’s in Creative Writing. This is her debut novel – and it won’t be the last.

Here Chwayita discusses her book, abusive relationships, and contemporary issues in South Africa, including corrective rape, on SABC:

If I Stay Right Here

Book details

Miss Behave a manifesto for South African black women, writes Nkateko Mabasa

Miss BehaveUpon encountering historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s quote, ‘well-behaved women seldom make history’, Malebo Sephodi knew that she was tired of everyone else having a say on who and what she should be.

Appropriating this quote, Malebo boldly renounces societal expectations placed on her as a black woman and shares her journey towards misbehaviour.

According to Malebo, it is the norm for a black woman to live in a society that prescribes what it means to be a well-behaved woman. Acting like this prescribed woman equals good behaviour.

But what happens when a black woman decides to live her own life and becomes her own form of who she wants to be? She is often seen as misbehaving.

Miss Behave challenges society’s deep-seated beliefs about what it means to be an obedient woman. In this book, Malebo tracks her journey on a path towards achieving total autonomy and self-determinism.
 
 
Miss Behave will challenge, rattle and occasionally cause you to scream ‘yassss, yassss, yassss’ at various intervals.

Nkateko Mabasa recently reviewed Miss-Behave for The Huffington Post, describing Malebo’s memoir as “a manifesto for South African black women”:

In the coming revolution, it seems to me, that it will be women who shall lead us. Or rather it shall be a black radical feminist. For it is them, who not only have a true sense of reality but honestly seek to fight oppressions of all kind, having been subjected to it all.

And it is in the work of debut writer Malebo Sephodi that one has a glimpse of what that liberated future might look like. In her insightful and deeply personal book “Miss Bahave”, Malebo presents a world of the black woman in South Africa.

A world of hidden anxiety, maltreatment and nervousness, not to mention the inner turmoil of being silenced. Bearing society’s burden on a body that does not belong to itself. It is the world hidden from view but existing nonetheless. And as a society, we refuse to see this body, let alone hear it. It’s absence and silence confirms to us our sense of normal; it hides our moral depravity. But then appears in this deep and lonesome night, a bright light.

Sephodi, much like a skilful director of a play, breaks the fourth wall. The audience is shocked, realising it is actually participants in this play called life. Shocked not out of horror but out of the responsibility they must accept. One is moved from passive observer, to face up to one’s role in the continued subjugation of black women.

Though Sephodi seeks to write about how ‘to navigate life as a woman’, she does more. Miss behave is about women refusing to ‘know their place and stay there’, refusing to behave, to be docile and submissive.

Society is put on trial and has been found wanting. But all hope is not lost.

To enjoy the democracy and freedom of our ideas, black women cannot be ignored any longer. Here is a brave voice to speak on the issues that matter.

Continue reading Nkateko’s review here.

Book details

Pumla Dineo Gqola’s Reflecting Rogue delivers 20 essays of deliciously incisive brain food written from anti-racist, feminist perspectives

Reflecting Rogue is the much anticipated and brilliant collection of experimental autobiographical essays on power, pleasure and South African culture by Professor Pumla Dineo Gqola.

In her most personal book to date, written from classic Gqola antiracist, feminist perspectives, Reflecting Rogue delivers 20 essays of deliciously incisive brain food, all extremely accessible to a general critical readership, without sacrificing intellectual rigour.

These include essays on ‘Disappearing Women’, where Gqola spends time exploring what it means to live in a country where women can simply disappear – from a secure Centurion estate in one case, to being a cop in another, and being taken by men who know them.

‘On the beauty of feminist rage’ magically weaves together the shift in gender discourse in South Africa’s public spheres, using examples from #RUReferenceList, #RapeAtAzania and #RememberingKhwezi.

Reflecting Rogue takes on both the difficulties and rewards of wilfully inhabiting our bodies in ‘Growing into my body’, while ‘Belonging to myself’ uncovers what it means to refuse the adversarial, self-harming lessons patriarchy teaches us about femininity.

In ‘Mothering while feminist’ Gqola explores raising boys as a feminist – a lesson in humour, humility and patience from the inside. In ‘Becoming my mother’ the themes of fear, envy, adoration and resentment are unpacked in mother-daughter relationships. While ‘I’ve got all my sisters with me’ explores the heady heights of feminist joy, ‘A meditation on feminist friendship with gratitude’ exposes a new, and more personal side to ever-incisive Gqola.

Reflecting Rogue comes to a breath-taking end in ‘A love letter to the Blackman who raised me’.

Gender activist, award-winning author and full professor of African Literature at Wits University, Pumla Dineo Gqola has written extensively for both local and international academic journals. She is the author of What is Slavery to Me? (Wits University Press), A Renegade Called Simphiwe (MFBooks Joburg) and Rape: A South African Nightmare (MFBooks Joburg).

Book details