I have been blogging for almost two years. When I started the blog I thought it was going to be a distraction from the arduous (and often painful) process of researching and writing up my Masters thesis. Much to my surprise I have been a keen and consistent blogger with regular readers who have encouraged me to keep writing. In spite of the limited readership of friends, family and facebook friends, I have enjoyed the process of thinking, “what shall I blog about this week?”.
A few months ago someone asked me why I blog. My response referenced bell hooks and how her writing had inspired me to give myself the opportunity to write, even though I wasn’t certain that my writing caused waves or whether there would be any faithful readers to entertain my thoughts. I discovered bell hooks in my third year and fell in love with her voice that made complex and heavy issues accessible and worth consideration. She gave me the words to understand some of the angst I was feeling at the time but was not able to express because I had not found the words to describe my frustrations with how I often view the world.
However, the real reason I carried on with writing regularly (which led to my first article in the Daily Dispatch and a little later this blog) was my encounter with Nontsizi Mgqwetho’s writing. Her voice has been my secret muse since my Honours year while doing isiXhosa literature. The thought of studying literature in an insignificant language (spoken by less than 30% of the people in South Africa) was a battle considering that I had majored in English literature during my undergrad and people had never questioned this. In spite of the scorn of studying literature in an African language I persisted and discovered a wealth of knowledge from books I may have never read if I had not taken isiXhosa as a course in my 3rd year at Rhodes.
I encountered Nontsizi’s writing through a friend who was reading for her Masters in English literature at the time. Nontsizi wrote poetry in newspapers in the 1920s. There hasn’t been enough research into her work apart from Jeff Opland’s collection of her work A Nation’s Bounty: the poetry of Nontsizi Mgqwetho. Her provocative voice in a male dominated era and medium captured my attention as a young woman in the 21st century. And I wondered: if she had the opportunities I have (access to the web and other forms of social media), her voice and writing may have charged many other minds into action. I don't know if she would accept the accusation of being a trailblazer as I see her, but she had a way of saying what she wanted to say unapologetically.
Her words resonate within me everyday: Asinakuthula umhlaba ubolile (we cannot keep quiet while the world is in shambles). This simple and profound sentiment makes sense to me now more than ever. There is still more that needs to be said about the leadership in this country, the same way Nontsizi addressed the fraught politics of her time. There is even more to be said about the position of women in our society the same way Nontsizi praised women like Charlotte Maxeke for their successes in the 1920s.
So I’ll keep blogging in the new year in the hope that my writing voice will add to the need for women to find spaces to express themselves as my blog has allowed me to do since 2010. Next year I will be in the real world as a teacher and I anticipate there will be endless stories to share from my wonderful school and the learners I will encounter...the best is yet to come, Woza 2012!