This is the logo for my self-publishing company, Thank You Books. My name is a derivative of the gratitude concept in the Sesotho/Setswana/Sepedi language group (lebohang, relebogile, olebogeng, etcetera). I feel a deep gratitude for the life I have and continue to create; from school life to poetry life to freelance shooting-my-shot life and books have essentially given that to me. I am thankful to every writer who has written something (both inside & outside books) that has illuminated my path and has changed my life. And, I am immensely grateful to my mama and the box set of Poldy books that have been a force throughout my whole childhood. The icon consists of a ballet/book skirt because I feel that it’s important to pay homage to 14 years of rigorous classical and contemporary dance training because of how they have made me who I am. I am thrilled for this new chapter and all of the beautiful stories that I am going to put into the world.
Designers: Masego Morulane (illustrator of my dreams too) and Sibusiso Mkhwanazi.
Thank you to my friends, who always help me to make up my mind.
In this month’s edition of Destiny Magazine, you can peruse a selection of stunning statement fashion accessories for Autumn/Winter 2017 (including the most gorgeous golden Dolce & Gabbana earrings that I have ever!) alongside the elaborate art work on my beautiful, lithe brown body.
Representation truly means a lot to me. It is always a big deal when a mainstream brand like Destiny Magazine (or Jet Store) ask me to swap my perenially stressed Anthropologist life for a few hours of modelling and fun. I’m grateful that I get to showcase my body modifications on a national platform and challenge people’s archaic stereotypes. There are still so many misconceptions about tattoos in this country, especially when black women have them, and I am glad to be able to do my part to normalise these beautiful additions to our skin. I want us to all be able to really enjoy our agency free from harrassment and patriarchy’s fury that we dare to do what we want with our bodies. I would like for it to be crystal clear that we are neither promiscuous nor deviant – what we are, is cute as hell. Okay?!
Your local Heavily Tattooed Brown Babe™
P.S – It’s the one with Bonang on the cover.
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Thank you, Mpumi Sinxoto and the Destiny Magazine team!
Mpumi’s Magic Beads is one of my favourite labours of love and this past Tuesday afternoon, I had the wonderful opportunity to share it with some lovely little people and some big people too. I chose Bridge Books on Commissioner Street as the venue because it’s the perfect setting for the story about Mpumi, Tshiamo and Asante – three little girls with amazing hair, a great friendship and some really cool adventures in the big city.
From making my pledge to “Make One Day, Today!” and beginning this journey of finding inspiration to write a unique story set in this Joburg city that I adore – I feel so happy that WE DID IT and it has been received so warmly. I’m grateful that so many people enjoyed it and would love to own it because that’s the bigger dream – to have it exist in hard copy so we can all read it to our future/children. So now that I have come to the end of the journey with Standard Bank (an awesome 4 months that could not have possibly been enough time to publish-publish) the new journey that I am about to embark on and one that I have to give some serious thought to is: how? I am contemplating whether I will go with an established publisher or whether I will be the established publisher and self-publish. It is quite the big decision to make but either way, I’ve gathered some email addresses of interested future buyers (feel free to mail me yours if you’re interested) and I will keep everyone in the loop of how I will proceed from here – this means that the story is inaccessible at this time and all I ask for is some patience in the meanwhile. After that is accomplished, I would definitely love to consider taking the book and visiting schools and community centres for storytelling sessions because I enjoy them so much.
I’m grateful to everyone who came to the storytelling and allowed me to live my dream and also to those who spread the word and have expressed interest in owning the book. Thank you to Standard Bank, Book of Swag and Native for the opportunity and immense support, Kay Bapela for keeping me on track, Selina Morulane for bringing the girls to life and being a talented illustrator, Nokulinda for being both mom and kiddie snack-maker goals and for being awesome, Monti and Alexandra for being my best friends and coming through for me on the day and on all days, and to my parents for giving my siblings names that I could make a story with and to my siblings for being loving and helpful people.
One more thing on the subject of publishing: I would appreciate any advice in this regard so please feel free to comment and let me know which route you think I should go with and why? Thanks!
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Thank you to my mother and Thabani for being my first listeners, believing in the story and giving me the confidence to share it.
I can finally reveal that my pledge for #TODAY is children’s storytelling! I have always wanted to venture into this part of writing because I hold such a deep reverence for it. I was just always too anxious about it but then Standard Bank came along and pretty much dared me to choose just ONE thing that I have always yearned for yet always put off until another day. So, in true “why not make one day today?” fashion, I decided to try my best to make my dream happen. So, I’ve been hard at work putting together a story and I am very excited to present it to its intended audience – your gorgeous children!
As I have mentioned, children’s stories hold a very special place in my heart because they were my entry into the world of reading and my love for books. My children’s story collection as an adult has been growing since I feel especially giddy that we live in a time when books have become more diverse and representative of the little boys and girls all around us. I grew up on The Adventures of Poldy by Felicia Law, an incredible box set that my mom bought for me when we lived in Sweden, about a scarecrow and his friends: a crow, a seagull and a wagtail. It exposed me to childhood learning concepts and different cultures around the world and perhaps it’s also responsible for my love for Anthropology?
One of my biggest inspirations for this particular project, however, is Atinuke. I love that woman so much (and I will meet her one day)! The feeling I get when I read Anna Hibiscus is a feeling I would love for others to experience through my work and I am prepared to work at this craft in order to ensure that I get as close as possible to that kind of magic.
So, please join me on Tuesday afternoon at Bridge Books for a storytime session in which I’ll be presenting my debut children’s story, Mpumi’s Magic Beads and sharing another one of my favourite children’s stories. Please bring your little ones? The story is aimed at children from 4 – 10 years old but really, you’re all welcome. The event is free and public schools are on holiday so see you then! Here’s the Facebook invitation.
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Thank you to Standard Bank and the various creative agencies that gave me the best dare I’ve ever had the pleasure to complete. I’m so happy that it is taking shape!
Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?
This, from Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day” is a question that I love to ask myself because it centres mortality, which has recently become an important source of motivation for me. When I feel doubtful of myself and my abilities, it helps to remember that this life is the only life and the only take and every moment that passes or slips by, is it. So it only makes sense to use the time well by setting out to accomplish everything that my spirit has ever yearned for. I’ve got a whole list of things that I’ve been putting of for a bunch of reasons (school, fatigue and feeling ill-prepared, mostly) but #today, I’m stepping out of complacency and challenging myself to make just one of my dreams real with just one step in the right direction. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be letting you into this exciting journey.
But for now, will you join the movement and “Make One Day, #TODAY?” Visit the site to make your pledge, upload it as your avatar and begin #TODAY to make yourself proud!
The Cape Town Art Fair is on. Last evening, my friend Thenji and I went to the Goodman Gallery’s “South-South: Let Me Begin Again”. I know that I said that I probably wouldn’t be able to go because of my work but, I give my heart what it wants – always. In the video room, seated to the right of a white wall and surrounded by a few microphones, sat Professor Grada Kilomba. The audience sat on the floor as her silent video played and she read along – this is called “Illusions”. I sat at the very front and listened intently as she narrated a story of Narcissus and Echo. I’m not going to retell it here or give notes like last time but the switch up was delicious: Greek mythology until a point, then a rereading in which Prof. Kilomba positions whiteness as Narcissus and Echo as “white consensus”. It was obviously incredible. The microphones, a motif in the video as well, make me think of her work regarding the slave bit (please, look it up!), the silent black subject and how she says “listening is an act of the authorisation of the speaker.” The image of multiple microphones, read against her eloquent take-down of whiteness in this performance lecture, emphasises the black subject as an authority. Our lived experiences are adequate and enough of an authority on whiteness. Our lived experience is knowledge. The subaltern speaks. (Word to Professor Gaytari Spivak.) Continue reading “I Met Professor Grada Kilomba. Wow.”
Which is to say, she’s the most phenomenal sight that I have ever seen with my two eyes. I still think of that night in spiritual terms. Someone beyond sky and time; someone who loves me gifted me this experience. Friday night and I’m all alone (as usual) and I was running late. I was cold as all misery. I’d received invitations to several parties and declined, despite the fact that the week was long and I deserved ease. I hadn’t been able to make it to the Decolonising Feminism Conference that had been held during the week but this was one of the last sessions titled, “Decolonising Knowledge: A Performance Lecture”. Just for those two last words, I had to be there. I tell you, interdisciplinarity consumes my thoughts. I obsess about how I want my academic and artistic vantages to intersect. When I spend a lot of time shifting between this Economic Anthropology text and that proposal on love and intimacy and that seminar that requires zooming through Haiti and Hegel and universal history books – the spirit stops to ask for poetry. Finding the balance between a worldview that demands unrelenting analysis and one that begs for stillness, softness and an economy of language induces much anxiety and the heartbreaking sacrifice of one. It’s urgent that I grow the space in my mind where the union of poetry and Anthropology is natural, in a way that is organic for me. It’s the stuff that my daydreaming is made of.
Postgrad life keeps me intensely busy. There are so many cool projects that I couldn’t participate in and so many stages that I couldn’t stand on because of this priority. On those occasions that I was able to take some time off, it was and still is an honour to have had different groups of people entrust me with their labours of love and invite me to contribute to their vision with my gifts. Thank you to every one of you. So, not only is this a glimpse of some of my favourite moments of the year, I hope that this also serves as an introduction to exactly what I mean by “my dreaming and doing life.”
The year started off with Jet Store’s #JetLoveYourself body positive Valentine’s campaign! I joined some awesome South African women – who are also not models – in wearing beautiful underwear and confidently celebrating our bodies in their different sizes and shapes.
Flustered by life and overwhelmed by the aching worry that I would not pass my Honours year°°, I stood in the Anthropology office and cried. The door stays open, literally and figuratively. It’s a safe space. Before the tears, I had shook my head intently: “I’m not gonna make it. I’m not gonna make it. I mean, I guess I could go to UNISA? God knows I can’t re-do Honours here. The shame would eat me. I couldn’t face you all…” Andrea, our beloved administrator with her beautiful grey-streaked hair and kind eyes, shook her head back at me and said: “You know, Lebo, life will always happen at the same time as school but you have to remember why you’re on this journey. I promise you! Take control of just one thing…” Continue reading “Take Control of Just One Thing: From 2016 into 2017.”