When I think about it, the best part about being an Anthropologist is being able to occupy really interesting spaces and speak as an expert on the topic – because that’s what the long days and nights of academic productivity are about. So, in my capacity as a scholar and children’s book author, I was invited to be a panelist at the #CoilConversations event hosted by the Jabu Stone brand and engage in conversation with the MC, Noluthando Nqayi, the legend himself, Jabu Stone and an audience of beautiful, natural hair influencers from around Johannesburg. Continue reading “#CoilConversations with Jabu Stone”
1. #JetLoveYourself (Another one!)
Following last year’s successful lingerie campaign around body positivity and self-love, Jet Store had another amazing one this Valentine’s Day! Interestingly, I felt more confident this time around because I felt like I had both my body and my skin under a little more control. Either way, I love that I showed up and shone regardless of how unfit my body felt and how pimply my face was. It was a small reminder that loving myself is a necessity that must be put into practice even on days when standing in that truth feels daunting.
I also love the images that people shared with me on Twitter. It’s a big deal to me that I am contributing to the imagery (normalisation thereof) of tattooed, African women. Below are two of my favourite: Look at my non-model, modelling self being great in the storefront. I am so proud!
2. I met Dr Grada Kilomba!
This year, after I sent Dr Kilomba one of my posts about how much I love her work, she let me know that she would be in Cape Town at the Goodman Gallery for an exhibition. It would be another multi-disciplinary performance lecture (I’m still very very fascinated by these) on decolonial theory and I obviously wasn’t going to miss it for the world. You know I wrote all about it.
3. #MakeOneDayToday campaign!
This is the campaign that took the dream of Mpumi’s Magic Beads and gave it wings! From pledging to host a storytelling event for children in the city using beautiful posters of the scenes on an easel, to mama having produced an entire book and having an ISBN (International Standard Book Number)! I’m so proud of me!
4. Writing for Gugu Intimates
5. My first trip to London!
I put “travel” on my vision board this year without any real longing in my heart to go anywhere in particular. I just wanted to set an intention of acceptance should the opportunity come because I was annoyed with myself for detesting airports as much as I do. So when the talented writer and poet, Belinda Zhawi contacted me to join her on stage in London in May, I said yes! I also got to see my friend, Hana Riaz on her home turf and it felt great. My flight was via Cairo International – I don’t enjoy layovers – and my airport phobia was not helped by landing in Heathrow to news of the Manchester Terror Attack and departing on the day of the great British Airways administration disaster of May 2017. The airport was a messy, full, mess. I’m just grateful that I was safe going in and safe going out. We will be doing it again in a few days, in Johannesburg this time!
6. Modelling for Destiny Magazine.
7. Elle Magazine
In August 2017, I was featured in Elle Magazine and we shot in my bedroom in my special umbhalo that my gran’s friend got for me. I spoke about literature, school and Mpumi’s Magic Beads, of course. Get into this Moyo by BiBi choker, please!
8. Urban Anxieties workshop and Media Studies guest lecture
I gave my first academic talk at the Urban Anxieties workshop, based on the research from my thesis. It was organised by Dr Nicky Falkof from Wits Universty’s Media Studies department. After I presented, she invited me to guest lecture her third year Media Studies group. They were both great experiences. I really enjoy the opportunity to share my work and to do my little bit to contribute to advancing intersectional feminist politics through teaching and speaking to young people.
9. The People vs Patriarchy
I got to feature in The People vs Patriarchy, another MTV documentary and the follow-up to The People vs The Rainbow Nation. I enjoyed watching the film and how Lebogang Rasethaba used visual text to emphasise the contributors narratives. It’s an important documentary for all South Africans, regardless of where they are on their Feminist journeys, towards understanding and gaining the language to make sense of society.
10. I am a children’s book author!
Mpumi’s Magic Beads by Lebohang Masango is a real thing. It’s a book that can be touched and read and is currently living its own life outside of me, in children’s homes and hearts. I am indescribably proud and happy about this milestone. To think that I wrote and oversaw every single detail of the dream right until it’s very end. I drafted, produced and manufactured an entire book. I love that this is only the beginning. I have so many stories and so many plans. 2018 is going to be amazing!
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Thank you to each person who contributed to 2017 being an incredible year for me. I am grateful to you.
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.”