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!
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.
My beautiful tattooed body was adorned in some exquisite accessories for one of Destiny Magazine’s Winter editorials in June, 2017.
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!
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!