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 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”
On Curious Cat, it comes up often for people to ask me either about loving myself or about my productivity. I understand that I am asked a lot about my productivity because I share a lot on social media about my work and its progress. It’s interesting that the perception is that I am so methodical and diligent. You know, every now and then, I actually wanna tweet: “Oh my god, where can I buy some focus because it’s lit!” but I don’t because my social network includes people with whom I have some kind of deadline at any given time. So, there are some things that I don’t share with as much ease as the next person, that’s all.
Another thing is that I do share about my disappointments, although minimally. I allude to being up all night and crying over drafts and things not going my way but I’m never going to sit there and be self-deprecating on social media. I don’t like to give light and energy and oxygen to those parts because I would rather use as much as I can on the good. When my work isn’t going as well as I would like: I leave it alone. I rest, I go to my favourite restaurants, I pick up a book to read or my colouring book, I build a puzzle or I watch television. I stop and process that I need to get battle-ready for this next thing and maybe I’m not in the mood today or the next two days but eventually, I will get back to it and give it my all. So, that is the ebb and flow of my self-love. I am always giving myself room to feel and do what feels necessary in that moment. If today isn’t the day to get it right then perhaps tomorrow will be.
I also think it’s interesting that self-love and productivity are the things I get asked about often because for me, they are the same thing. It’s important for me to always put my humanity to its best use and my work in Anthropology and with children is exactly that. My work is a testament to loving myself. Doing my work, all the work, is how I love myself. Me being productive, me being creative – it’s all the source giving back to the source. I suppose I am fortunate that my work happens to be exactly what I came to do on this planet. Some people have also asked me: “when or how did you learn to love yourself?” and my answer is usually the same about how all I have in this world is myself and so it follows that I should treat myself with an abundance of goodness. But the question kept tugging at me. I kept thinking: “Is my answer incomplete? Is there something that even I’m missing?” Eventually, I got up and went to my bookshelf, thinking. Continue reading “On living, loving and learning”