Anyone who knows me knows how much I absolutely love Johannesburg, in all its grit and grime and glory. I write poems about it. I even write children’s books about it. So, naturally, my academic efforts are dedicated to understanding this city and the people who live and love in it, as I do. My current PhD journey continues from where I concluded my Master’s research. I find myself really fascinated by romantic relationships; what is reflected about them in the media, in music, in movies, in pop culture and how people navigate them to realise their own individual happiness within their couplings. I’m also interested in how grand socio-political occurrences affect the intimacies between people. If you’re interested in that too, you should read my chapter in Professor Nicky Falkof and Dr Cobus van Staden’s new edited volume, Anxious Joburg: The Inner Lives of a Global South City.
This publication is a result of responding to a call for abstracts for Nicky and Cobus’ Urban Anxieties workshop held in 2017 that is supported by my current scholarship, Governing Intimacies. I worked with them, back-and-forth draft submissions and edits, until we reached the point where the chapter was good enough to be published. Academia gives me butterflies in the worst way so even when the act of applying myself feels like moving boulders, I really do try to give it my best each time. My favourite part is that I always come out on the other side having a wealth of new knowledge and knowing new scholars that inspire me and if I’m lucky, they take interest in my work and give me the most amazing advice. Strangely, academia makes me happy. Let’s get back to the book. I really think you’ll enjoy it so get yourself a copy here and while you wait, you should listen to Prof. Falkof’s conversation with Azania Mosaka on Radio 702, here.
MultiChoice Presents: Africa’s Most Loved Storyteller Issue featuring…me! I recently collaborated with media giant MultiChoice in writing a poem that represents the importance of the storytelling tradition on the African continent which also extends to who they are as a company that has been giving opportunities to Africans of all ages to tell their stories for the past 25 years. You can read about my insights and my work in the cover story which was so beautifully written by Gomolemo Lesejane in the latest edition of The Throne as well as more stunning photographs. My gratitude goes to Caron Williams, publisher of the Throne; photographer, Austin Malema; make-up artist, Nureen; hair stylist, Smangele from Indalo Nubian Naturals and Sibu Mabena from Duma Collective for bringing it all together. It was amazing to be on sent with this remarkable group of people who are all so supremely gifted in what they do.
There aren’t enough words to capture how incredible Austin Malema’s photography is.
You can watch my poem, Ten Thousand Stories below and read the words inside The Throne.
Currently available in English, isiZulu, Setswana, Sesotho, isiNdebele and Xitsonga. More translations coming soon!
There’s magic in the air
as Mpumi and Jabu play.
They sign and laugh,
as they become friends.
“Oh what fun!” they say.
The sequel to Mpumi’s Magic Beadsis here! The story follows the the adventure that unfolds when Mpumi, a hearing girl, and Jabu, a Deaf boy, meet for the first time. They learn that even though we are all different, we are also the same in many ways. We love playing and reading, we love smiling and helping our family and friends. Everything about us makes us special. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Hi Hopes, an early intervention partner for families of deaf and hard-of-hearing babies. About the co-author
Claudine Storbeck has a PhD in Education Linguistics and has been working in the field of Deaf Education and Deaf Studies for over 27 years. She is a fluent signer and was honoured to be the South African Sign Language (SASL) interpreter for the inaugurations of both Presidents Mandela and Mbeki. Claudine has over 150 academic presentations and publications in almost 20 countries and has recently starting publishing children’s literature. She was named a world specialist in Deaf Education by the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and is the Director and Associate Professor of the Centre for Deaf Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Connected Lives: Families, Households and Care in South Africa edited by Professors Nolwazi Mkhwanazi and Lenore Manderson is finally here. This means that I am officially a published Anthropologist – let me go update my CV! It seems like a lifetime ago when I was navigating the public health section of my university’s medical campus in search of the venue that they had organised for the Families, Households and Care Workshop. I just remember feeling really intimidated about being one of the youngest (and least credentialed) people in the room so I mostly kept quiet and kept to myself while trying to learn as much as I can. My favourite part about being involved in workshops and conferences is seeing how people working in similar areas of research can be gathered together to think together about what a collective contribution to knowledge production can look like and then being part of that process over time; editing and communicating for years until everything is has been checked off the list and all that’s left is to receive the copies from the publisher. Here is more information about the book:
Connected lives: Families, households, health and care in contemporary South Africa, illustrates the changing constitution and the variability of households, fluid understandings of family, and the impact of these in the context of life changes and health problems. Through 29 case studies of people of diverse backgrounds in terms of ethnicity, class, sex and gender, of varying ages and from both urban and rural backgrounds, the authors explore the household as a site for the production of health and care. The book illustrates the impact of economic, demographic and social changes on households and families, and considers how these factors influence everyday life, health, wellbeing and care in contemporary South Africa. This book will interest those in global public health, anthropology, and population and demography studies.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we had to cancel the physical book launch and find a way to create a virtual one instead. So, here is the book launch, a series of 1 minute long videos from each author. My case study was drawn from my Master’s research on compensated (“blesser and blessee”) relationships. My summary is below:
You’ll notice that the Youtube page that the videos are hosted on reads Medical Health Humanities Africa. It is an African network of medical and health humanities academics, artists, healers and activists that Professor Mkhwanazi has been involved in creating – if that sounds like you, you can check out the website and join. And, you can purchase Connected Lives: Families, Households and Care in South Africahere.
Thank you, Nolwazi and Lenore, for believing in my work and helping me to shape my contribution into something worth publishing!
At first, it was hard to believe that the film Parasite was as deserving of the waves and waves of reverence that everyone adopted when speaking about it. I was a firm non-believer, especially because even the best movies seem to have to rely on reproducing Hollywood tropes in order to achieve acclaim. For that reason, I believed that if you have seen one film then you have surely seen them all – it’s just nice to get out of the house and eat loads of popcorn every once in a while. Quite a big deal was made of the fact that a so-called foreign film scooped so many statues at the Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. Even then, my expectations for the film were decidedly low because we all know how the hype machinery of Hollywood can ensnare even the most vigilant people with its hyperbole.
As my blog title shows, I was pleasantly surprised. The plot is refreshingly unpredictable. Set in South Korea, the film explores some stark contrasts in the material realities of the social classes. Considering that this was the first Korean film I’ve ever seen, it was really interesting to explore what poverty means in that context and, of course, to see the familiar and universal aloofness that accompanies wealth. By putting the Kim and Park families in close proximity and entangling their lives so humorously and tragically, Parasite exposes the relationship between the rich and poor; making it even more apparent that poor people’s suffering sustains and energises the lives of the wealthy – in ways that the latter can afford to pay very little regard to because their own survival is not as precarious. Take some time out of your life and watch this film. It’s astoundingly good.
I just want to say a big, big thank you to everyone who took their time out to vote in the 100 Most Influential South Africans poll for 2019. You put me at number 39 and I appreciate it! What an honour to be counted among such inspirational people. My passion is words and making worlds for people – recently children – to see themselves in, grow in and be inspired enough to be their best selves in. I appreciate everything everyone does to make this dream-work happen.
Would you look at that? I have been nominated as one of the 100 Most Influential Young South Africans for 2019! I spent some time reading through all of the profiles of the nominees and trust me, it is such an honour to be recognised among such hardworking individuals! So much of the work I do requires me to be alone and so it’s always wonderful to know that it resonates beyond my work space and the people I directly interact with while I do it. I think it’s really cool that I’m representing for the word workers, poets, imagination builders and children’s literacy advocates. And I always will.
I would like to wish you a wonderful start to the new year! In thinking about you, me and this little corner of the internet that we share, I have decided to set some goals for this blog but I’ll tell you more about that later.
I’m currently on holiday in the Eastern Cape. It started in Simon’s Town, then Knysna, Port Alfred, Mthatha and I’m in Port St John’s for a few more hours, then Umhlanga. The weather has warmed up considerably from yesterday so I am finally able to think about something other than how cold it is! I’m quite delighted that it’s a new year. The sun and this gentle breeze have me in a great mood to think, dream, imagine and plan myself into this new season of my life.The year 2019 was really good to me and it stretched my wings further as an author, Anthropologist and poet. My debut children’s book Mpumi’s Magic Beads won the South African Literary Award for Children’s Literature and the IBBY South Africa Award for Best Writer. I presented my research work at conferences in Mumbai, India and Johannesburg, South Africa and had it accepted for publication. I travelled to Asia for the first time and I visited the United States again. I graduated from the Zanele Mbeki Fellowship. I facilitated literary event sessions, collaborated with reputable brands using my poetry and began some collaborative work that will debut in the new year. I got a job at my favourite radio station and, best of all, I graduated! Conferred on 10 December 2019 by the University of Witwatersrand, I am finally a Master of Arts in Social Anthropology.
Me being me, I already began my PhD in August last year and while these past few months have been good for thinking through what exactly it is a want my doctoral thesis to be about, this year and this exact day symbolises a great new beginning for me. However, I underestimated how exhausted I actually am. Although the way I see it, I have no children and no husband so there is no reason why I don’t get to be this multi- meta- person who pursues all of her whims and talents to their logical conclusion. It is difficult to balance my family, social and working lives and to especially give my best to my work but I do it with joy anyway because who am I to deprive myself of this one wild and precious life? (Word to Mary Oliver.) Taking a break is inconceivable to me because I would like to get my doctorate as soon as possible and I really enjoy being in the university system. It’s helpful because I am able to maintain work relationships I have within the corridors and frequently receive information about talks, conferences and funding opportunities.
In all honesty, the prospect of how this year will unfold is weighing on me; only because I know that work begets more work and I am supposed to be strict about limiting what’s on my plate. I want to give this degree all I’ve got…but I also want to be available for whatever other blessings come my way. Something has got to give and perhaps that thing will be social media? My workload is already heavy, however, I would like to commit to blogging here on the third of every month (and in between if possible) while being less active on Twitter and Instagram. That way, I can post updates here primarily and use the nifty buttons to share with social media afterwards. So, please feel free to follow, like and comment as we make our way through this fresh and exciting year.
May it be full of blessings and wonder for you and yours. May you give yourself the world!
I am so overwhelmed by the actuality that I have won two literary awards in one month. I am grateful for the recognition from the Exclusive Books IBBY (International Board of Books on Young People) as the recipient of their Best Writer Award. Writing this book was one of the best parts of this process. It’s wonderful that children and literary bodies alike see the value of my work. You can read more about it: here. Congratulations to fellow award winners Nicolaas and Xolisa.