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 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!
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”
I have written. I have read. I have edited and deleted everything and started again. I have cried. I have agonised. I have procrastinated. I have carried this work with me to London, to New York (twice), layovers in Cairo and Dubai – while doing other important work, always staying in to write at least one paragraph – and finally, when it was complete, I presented it in Mumbai. I have crossed into new years with this work. I have become an author in a completely new genre while doing this work. I have taken my time and given so much of myself for it to be here today and I’m just so grateful for the community that loved me and held me through this work.
Here’s to the end of the chapter titled: “Lebohang studies and completes a Masters degree – can you believe it?” I wasn’t prepared for how long and demanding this journey would be and the creativity I would summon to distract myself from doing it *enter children’s book and a whole new life as a literary figure* and the many steps it takes until it’s officially done done but we are finally here now. (I consider this the official end because the graduation ceremony is optional.) This research has been such a ride. I really got to know myself anew and witness my entire political beliefs do a 180° transformation. I got to sharpen my instincts as a researcher and to trust the guidance of my intuition. It’s also been very hard being on the opposite side of people’s moral stances and being addressed like a delinquent here and there. So it has been immensely affirming to recieve feedback from people who really get it. My convictions may make the work controversial but as long as I remain true to my personal ethic of thinking and writing about black womanhoods in ways that are respectful and dignified, I’ll be okay. When I approached the women with whom I worked in this dissertation, I promised that I would not reproduce the trope that the media loves; the lie that black women are either so hypersexual or so poor that they have to sleep with men for money. I’m not interested in that. I am interested in exploring adult women’s consensual romantic practices with their partners and the logics that inform their desire to only date men of particular financial and social standings, with the context of a neoliberal society. While I do consider the vulnerabilties and violence that these women could encounter, I am more interested in the pleasures and joys of their lives. I do not want to constantly represent black women’s lives as marred by struggle when there is a plurality of experiences and when we are out here living and loving happily, too. Continue reading “My Master of Social Anthropology Dissertation”
I have such a strange relationship to travelling. I usually spend the entire time being very cautious about every single thing and counting down the days until I am back at home, in my bed, breathing my suburban, South African air where everything and everyone feels familiar. It’s only after I am back home and safely in my bed, that I begin to appreciate everything in hindsight. It’s as though once I have had a safe trip and confirmation that nothing untoward will happen, then I feel like I can go back, live all those days again and really have a good time. Of course, that would mean that life is a dress rehearsal and we all know that it certainly is not. Sometimes I do wish I was a more carefree traveller but I think I’ll just stay the way I am, even if it means staying in my hotel room a little more than exploring. My personality keeps me safe and I like that very much. Plus, America is scary. We know that.
I was so excited to be back in New York again. The first time was when I attended Goalkeepers, held by the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation in September 2018. My second time in New York was just as wonderful. I was there along with all of the lovely women of the Zanele Mbeki Fellowship (ZMF), including our beloved founder Mrs Mbeki, and we were having our third module there. In this module, we were learning about global feminist community by being immersed in the fast-paced world of the United Nations’ 63rd Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW). I believe it’s the largest gathering of women-related NGOs in the world. Our mission was to attend as many sessions as possible, learn and discuss amongst each other in order to understand grassroots level to world level feminist organisation. Continue reading “New York, New York”