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.
It was such an honour to attend the South African Literary Awards on Thursday, 7 November at the Ditsong National Museum of Cultural History as a nominee of the Children’s Literature Award and to end the evening as the winner. I would like to thank David Philip Publishers, all of the translators of the book, Masego Morulane for being the illustrator of my dreams, Cindy van Wyk for being my first editor, the Book of Swag agency for inviting me to be part of the #TODAY campaign that started the entire dream.
The biggest thank you of all goes out to all of the people who bought the book and gifted the little readers in their lives. Thank you, little readers, for allowing my girls into your worlds. You give my dreams wings!
I really enjoy Kaya FM. It’s my radio station of choice for when I work and of course, the bulk of that involves sitting alone, reading and writing from morning until midnight, everyday. The station has a new show, unlike anything I have heard before. On Sunday afternoons, from 2pm – 6pm, What’s Wrong With Groovin’ is on and it’s an audio-documentary (that includes prose, poetry, dramatic script) infused with music curated by DJ Khenzero and Tha_Muzik, of the station’s Sound Supreme show on Saturday afternoons. It’s quite a refreshing concept considering that a majority of the South African radio stations that I enjoy have decided that Sunday afternoons are for wailing R&B. So, this is a welcome breath of fresh air because I like to work while listening to relaxing music that allows my mind to imagine and execute; not stress-me-out-about-my-romantic-life music. It’s distracting, at best.
I love reading all kinds of things so I think it’s incredibly cool that I’ll be doing so on my favourite radio station. So please do join me today for my debut at 14:00 on Kaya FM, 95.9 FM. Today, we will be contemplating the land question far beyond the current discourse that is being generated in our country. It is interesting, thought-provoking and entertaining content that honestly blew me away when I listened to the first and second episodes. So I’m really excited to be involved with the third episode and hopefully all of them from today onwards. Please do let me know what you think, loves! I will be sure to add the podcast to this post and the podcast page on my blog when it is available.
Thank you, #WWWGroovin team for letting me do this cool thing with y’all!
Have you spotted the new Glade commercial on your TV screens? It features artist Nandipha Mntambo, seamstress Matshiliso Kola and myself in a stunning ode to the women of South Africa; our bravery, wisdom and inner-beauty that is carried through generations, always empowering the next. I feel so honoured to have been asked to be part of this gorgeous campaign and to offer myself and my story in this amazing tribute to all of us! I think of my mother, my sister-friends and all of the incredible scholars ushering me through my academic journey – we really do make our country a better place.
Thank you, Glade, for making me a part of this lovely story.
Wow. Mpumi’s Magic Beads has been shortlisted for a South African Literary Award in the Children’s Literature category. Just the nomination alone is such a wonderful piece of recognition and I am honoured. My day has been made. A big congratulations to all of the nominees for this year. Let us all pray, hold thumbs and cross fingers for the 7th of November, which is four days after my birthday.
I have done the math. Pads cost +/-R40 x 12 months = +/-R480 a year. In 5 years, that’s +/-R2400. People who use tampons exclusively or along with pads have those costs to consider as well. A menstrual cup is R400 – R500 once off and you use the same one for 5 – 10 years. So you take money out of your pocket for this expense only a few times in your life. You also lessen pollution. Imagine all of that un-recyclable plastic that you add to the trash and that each person who menstruates also adds? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to ease the strain on your budget and on the planet as well? This is why I think menstrual pads are such a great solution.
This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of facilitating d’bi.young anitafrika’s poetry book launch of Dubbin Poetry: the collected poems of d’bi.young anitafrika (Spolrusie, 2019) at the South African Book Fair. As I welcomed everyone to the space, introduced the audience to her and joined them in applause, she took her heels off. She began to sing and walk among the audience. She moved effortlessly between song and poetry and even monologue. She looked deeply into each person’s eyes and held their gaze. She drew laughter and tears and a deep silence that held us all enchanted. She was a wonder to witness.
The past weeks have been particularly horrible in South Africa and, if you are a woman in this country, then it has been this way for a whole lifetime. Here, the murder and rape of women and girls is a casual and everyday occurrence. We live in the country where the South African Police Service (SAPS) will allow violent mobs of men to loot and commit arson almost everyday as shown in the recent wave of afrophobic unrest yet, teargas and assault women who are protesting for their human right to live. This is just the norm here. So, when d.bi was reciting a poem about love, and mentioned Uyinene’s fatal visit to the South African Post Office to collect a parcel, I broke down and the tears would not stop coming. I had successfully managed to hold myself together that weekend but the gross inhumanity of South African life really shook me up once more. But what is remarkable is that I have been angry and and cynical about our situation but d’bi’s words allowed in a glimmer of hope. I cried but I felt hope that love is indeed the revolution and it doesn’t ask us for anything too grand. It just asks that we love and hold each other through this; that we offer simple gifts of kind words and deeds. It’s hard but small acts of goodness can hold and begin to heal us through this. Continue reading “d’bi.young anitafrika”