This is America

I grew up on American pop culture. This isn't a unique experience as a black child growing up with the steady growth of American imperialism. I grew up when it was cool emulating "black American" culture through music and movies. I think I may have been shocked to learn that African-Americans were not the majority in their country because they occupied so much of our cultural public discourse in South Africa.

Watching Roots was my first introduction to American slavery. It was the only time mama allowed us to stay up late during the week in order to follow Kunta Kinte's journey. We spoke about Kunta Kinte as though he was someone we knew. It wasn't until I read Sojourner Truth's Ain't I a woman in a copy of Daughters of Africathat I began to get a deeper understanding about black women's relationship with American imperialism. I began to seek out writers such as Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Gwendolyn Brooks, Audre Lorde and bell hooks. I've always …

Women who made history: Charlotte Maxeke and Nontsizi Mgqwetho

In preparation for the Maxeke-Mgqwetho Annual Lecture and Masterclass, I spoke at St Mary's School which will be hosting the two events. Below is the message which I shared with the girls in the chapel services. There were two readings in the service: a poem "Mayibuye iAfrika" by Nontsizi Mgqwetho as well as the gospel reading: Matthew 28:1-10.

Today’s gospel reading is about women who made history; which is intricately linked to the two women I’d like to introduce to you. In the gospels we read about women being the first people to go and find Jesus’ body after the crucifixion. Much has been said about this scripture because it opens up the conversation about the role of women in the story of Jesus. In fact, many have written that without the two Mary’s Christianity would not have been established because it is the women who are the first to discover the resurrection. Without the resurrection, the story of Jesus, the promise of the risen Christ would not have been verif…

The politics of camagu

Growing up umama used to give me valuable information I took for granted. For example, my love for body art came out of a conversation with her about umvambo because she used the phrase "ukunyamezela umvambo" often and I would ask her "yintoni umvambo" and so the conversation would lapse into history and language and pictures (more on that in a post when I write about the tattoo sleeve that's almost complete). Another conversation was about simple words we took for granted: molo/molweni.

Mama told me molo(hello) comes from the Afrikaans word môre (morning). She says when she was growing up she often heard people say bhota/bhotani. In fact, when she moved to Ezibeleni after she married tata she was impressed by the consistency of the people who used bhota/bhotani; she hardly ever heard the use of molo. Much to her delight I'm sure.
So imagine my pride when I read that mama was in fact teaching me something that W. B. Rubusana writes about in his book Zemk…

An open letter to the girls at Sans Souci

Molweni gals

Ya'll have had quite the week ne! Going viral. Again. And this time the story has paused with your protest supporting a teacher who slapped one of your peers. You guys reckon she's not racist. Fair. She's your teacher. You like her. Even your favs are problematic but ke as'kho lapho.

I'm curious about what happened before the video was taken. What's the nature of the relationship between the teacher and the student who slapped her. Had she taught her last year? I suspect (and I could be wrong) that there's residue from last year's issues. At least I'm hoping that's the case; otherwise your teacher's behaviour is more troubling than you think.

The thing is no teacher should talk to you guys like that. Ever. There's a history of white women yelling at black girls and black 'girls' (domestic workers, oomama bethu, white women insist on infantilising; to this day). That picture would have looked very different had your t…

Ukuzilanda: resisting erasure

A few weeks ago I was invited to speak at UNISA about MaCharlotte Mannya-Maxeke. This was off the back of a paper I had written about MaCharlotte and MaNontsizi Mgqwetho. Here are some extracts from what I shared (when the paper is published I will share the link).


On love: speaking at the DSG Matric Dinner