Anyone who knows me knows how much I absolutely love Johannesburg, in all its grit and grime and glory. I write poems about it. I even write children’s books about it. So, naturally, my academic efforts are dedicated to understanding this city and the people who live and love in it, as I do. My current PhD journey continues from where I concluded my Master’s research. I find myself really fascinated by romantic relationships; what is reflected about them in the media, in music, in movies, in pop culture and how people navigate them to realise their own individual happiness within their couplings. I’m also interested in how grand socio-political occurrences affect the intimacies between people. If you’re interested in that too, you should read my chapter in Professor Nicky Falkof and Dr Cobus van Staden’s new edited volume, Anxious Joburg: The Inner Lives of a Global South City.
This publication is a result of responding to a call for abstracts for Nicky and Cobus’ Urban Anxieties workshop held in 2017 that is supported by my current scholarship, Governing Intimacies. I worked with them, back-and-forth draft submissions and edits, until we reached the point where the chapter was good enough to be published. Academia gives me butterflies in the worst way so even when the act of applying myself feels like moving boulders, I really do try to give it my best each time. My favourite part is that I always come out on the other side having a wealth of new knowledge and knowing new scholars that inspire me and if I’m lucky, they take interest in my work and give me the most amazing advice. Strangely, academia makes me happy. Let’s get back to the book. I really think you’ll enjoy it so get yourself a copy here and while you wait, you should listen to Prof. Falkof’s conversation with Azania Mosaka on Radio 702, here.
MultiChoice Presents: Africa’s Most Loved Storyteller Issue featuring…me! I recently collaborated with media giant MultiChoice in writing a poem that represents the importance of the storytelling tradition on the African continent which also extends to who they are as a company that has been giving opportunities to Africans of all ages to tell their stories for the past 25 years. You can read about my insights and my work in the cover story which was so beautifully written by Gomolemo Lesejane in the latest edition of The Throne as well as more stunning photographs. My gratitude goes to Caron Williams, publisher of the Throne; photographer, Austin Malema; make-up artist, Nureen; hair stylist, Smangele from Indalo Nubian Naturals and Sibu Mabena from Duma Collective for bringing it all together. It was amazing to be on sent with this remarkable group of people who are all so supremely gifted in what they do.
There aren’t enough words to capture how incredible Austin Malema’s photography is.
You can watch my poem, Ten Thousand Stories below and read the words inside The Throne.
Currently available in English, isiZulu, Setswana, Sesotho, isiNdebele and Xitsonga. More translations coming soon!
There’s magic in the air
as Mpumi and Jabu play.
They sign and laugh,
as they become friends.
“Oh what fun!” they say.
The sequel to Mpumi’s Magic Beadsis here! The story follows the the adventure that unfolds when Mpumi, a hearing girl, and Jabu, a Deaf boy, meet for the first time. They learn that even though we are all different, we are also the same in many ways. We love playing and reading, we love smiling and helping our family and friends. Everything about us makes us special. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Hi Hopes, an early intervention partner for families of deaf and hard-of-hearing babies. About the co-author
Claudine Storbeck has a PhD in Education Linguistics and has been working in the field of Deaf Education and Deaf Studies for over 27 years. She is a fluent signer and was honoured to be the South African Sign Language (SASL) interpreter for the inaugurations of both Presidents Mandela and Mbeki. Claudine has over 150 academic presentations and publications in almost 20 countries and has recently starting publishing children’s literature. She was named a world specialist in Deaf Education by the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and is the Director and Associate Professor of the Centre for Deaf Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand.
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.
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 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.
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”