The Department warmly congratulates Dr. Wesley Macheso on the successful examination of his PhD thesis entitled, “Vulnerability and Agency: Queer Representations in Contemporary Literary and Cultural Texts from Sub-Saharan Africa”. Dr. Macheso’s study, supervised by Professor Shaun Viljoen and Dr. Tilla Slabbert, was met with unanimous praise by its examiners in September 2021.
The Department will present its annual Postgraduate Conference on Thursday, 16 September. Postgraduates from the Honours, Masters and PhD cohorts will present on their work and the day’s proceedings will also include a research seminar discussion by Dr Ranka Primorac. The summary of the conference programme is below.
Session 1: Chair, Prof. Tina Steiner
10:00-10:20 The Posthuman Imperative in Dystopian and Post-
Presenter: Andre Kershaw
Discussant: Megan Jones
10:20-10:50 Mental Distress and Diasporic Experience in Porochista
Khakpour’s Sick: A Memoir and Brown Album: Essays on
Exile and Identity
Presenter: Stephanie de Villiers
Discussant: Nhlanhla Dube
10:50-11:10 On words and sounds: Intergenerational Trauma and
Identity in Selected Shoah and Apartheid Memoirs
Presenter: Lara Alhadeff
Discussant: Lobke Minter
11:10-11:30 A Dream in which Silence is Golden
Presenter: Sarah Uheida
Discussant: Tilla Slabbert
12:00-13:00 Keynote: Dr Ranka Primorac
Session 2: Chair, Prof. Louise Green
14:30-14:50 Depictions of Victorian Masculinity in Jane Eyre and
North and South
Presenter: Josephine Troost
Discussant: Treesa Marshall
14:50-15:20 Between the Lines: Writing With, Against and Beyond
Prescribed Models of “Colouredness”
Presenter: Cleo Biscombe
Discussant: Riaan Oppelt
15:20-15:50 Freud and Laubscher: A Haunting
Presenter: Penny Busetto
Discussant: Louise Green
A creative reimagining of archives built over years of interviews, Home Is Where The Music Is is the latest output from Dr Uhuru Phalafala in 2021. In the listening experience is a blend of music and interviews through which Dr Phalafala presents a sonic documentary that is a companion piece to a booklet that is published by Chimurenga, which was launched on 2nd September https://chimurengachronic.co.za/home-is-where-the-music-is-2/
Stellenbosch Alumni meet at the 5th East Africa Literary and Cultural Studies Conference in Eldoret, Kenya, 6-9 September 2021
With South Africa still in the grip of a third wave of the Covid 19 pandemic and under national lockdown, the Department of English continues to operate online under current national guidelines and protocols. A lengthy, extended first semester, impacted in June by the onset of the third wave and the ensuing Lockdown Level 4, saw all assessments and tests occur online. With little break for faculties across Stellenbosch University and at other universities across the country, the second semester is in full swing.
Through the intense teaching and administrative activity of the first semester, the Department’s research activities endured, as will be seen in this report. The Department’s fortnightly research seminar series, curated and arranged by Dr Uhuru Phalafala, continued with exciting speakers like Professor Barbara Boswell (UCT) and Dr. Philip Aghoghovwia (UFS), while a new PhD was awarded in June.
With a focus on the everyday, the book explores forms of conviviality in Eastern and Southern African literature, both in narrative fiction and in life writing. According to Routledge, there is an emphasis on
“…ordinary moments of recognition, of hospitality, of humour and kindness in everyday life to illuminate the significance of repertoires of repair in a world broken by relations of power. Putting current research on conviviality in conversation with the literary texts, the book demonstrates how conviviality emerges as an enabling ethical practice, as critique and survival strategy and as embodied lived experience.”
The volume is a rich addition to Professor Steiner’s body of work and also a contribution to Postcolonial Literature, African Studies and Indian Ocean Studies. The Department welcomes this new publication with great excitement and enthusiasm.
Dr Wamuwi Mbao deserves overdue congratulations for his editing of the publication of Years of Fire and Ash: South African Poems of Decolonisation with Jonathan Ball, earlier in 2021. In the collection, selected and collated by Dr Mbao, five decades of protest poetry are represented by a range of historic and contemporary South African poets. The selections speak to vital questions of decolonisation and the struggle radical social transformation, positioning many of these poems both in their own historic moments and in the continued discussion around decolonisation.
The Department also congratulates former PhD and Research Associate Dr Tyrone August, whose monograph Dennis Brutus: The South African Years (BestRed/HSRC Press 2020) made the shortlist for the 2021 Humanities and Social Sciences Awards from the Johannesburg Review of Books in the category ‘Best Non-fiction Monograph’.
The Department also offers its excited congratulations to Dr. Eva Wühr for the successful defence, in June, of her PhD thesis, titled “Rethinking Past and Future: Identity and Trauma in Contemporary Afrodiasporic Women’s Speculative Fiction,” with supervisors Dr. Nadia Sanger and Professor Ute Berns (Hamburg).
Quietly, perhaps with cautiously optimistic tones, 2021 took over from 2020. The jokes about 2020 never ending are well worn, along with suspicions that 2021 would merely be its predecessor in disguise. Much remains to be seen but here we are, at the start of a new year with plenty to reflect on and look ahead to in the first months of 2021. In the Department of English at Stellenbosch University (SU), there were reasons to celebrate as 2020 wound down and a recap is in order before we move on to the new year’s business at hand.
The department warmly congratulates Dr Jacky Kosgei on her successful viva in September, and Dr Cleo Theron, who successfully defended her thesis in December. Dr Kosgei’s thesis, titled “Imaginaries of Oceanic Histories in Oral and Written Texts from the Kenyan Coast,” was written under the supervision of Professor Tina Steiner and Dr Uhuru Phalafala. Dr Theron’s thesis, titled “Appraising the Counterpoint: Bifocal Readings of Literary Landscapes in the American Renaissance and Post-Apartheid South Africa,” was written under the supervision of Dr Megan Jones and Dr Dawid De Villiers.
In December 2020, Dr Uhuru Phalafala was notified by Dr Blade Nzimande that she had been selected by the Department of Higher Education and Training as a participant in the 2021 cohort of the nationally competitive Future Professors Programme. This initiative aims to support the career development of notable young South African scholars who have already made their mark as academics, and whose CVs suggest they are likely to go on to make significant contributions in the tertiary environment. (At SU, the FPP is managed by Professor Jonathan Jansen and his team.)
Congratulations to our colleague Dr Phalafala on yet another inspiring achievement. Her selection for the FPP signals her excellence.
Professor Sally-Ann Murray’s 2019 collection Otherwise Occupied (Dryad Press)has been nominated for a 2020 South African Literary Award (SALA) in the poetry category. Already a winner of the 1991 Sanlam Prize for her first collection, Shifting, as well as the 2009 M-Net Prize for English Fiction and the 2010 Herman Charles Bosman Prize for her debut novel, Small Moving Parts, Professor Murray is now once again in the running for a top award in 2021. Professor Murray’s 2020 publications include “Queerying examples of contemporary South African short fiction” in Journal of Commonwealth Literature 2020; 55(1):77-95.
FOCUS ON: ANNIE GAGIANO
In this first newsletter for 2021, there is a special focus on the force of nature that is Professor Emerita Annie Gagiano, a member of the Department since 1969 until her official retirement in 2008; thereafter, she continued her tireless productivity as emeritus professor. In the years before Covid19-influenced Lockdowns, Professor Gagiano was unfailingly the first person to arrive to her office in the department and the last to leave. This short summary, taken from the Faculty of Arts page, is but a quick reminder of Professor Gagiano’s astounding career:
Gagiano obtained her DLitt (English Studies) in 2003 and is a Professor Emeritus in the English Department where she continues to supervise doctoral students and pursue her research in contemporary African English fiction, focusing on issues of representation of the postcolonial present with emphasis on evocations of power (including war), gender concerns and aspects of childhood. In 2002 she was co-recipient of the Rector’s Award for Excellence in Research and she serves as reader for a number of academic journals. Her two books, viz. Achebe, Head, Marechera: On Power and Change in Africa (2002) and Dealing with Evils: Essays on Writing from Africa (2008) were published respectively in the USA and Germany. Gagiano has produced numerous articles and book chapters on African texts – sometimes read in conjunction with classic texts like Shakespeare’s or in comparison with postcolonial writing from other regions. She is a member of several academic bodies such as the International Comparative Literature Association; the African Literature Association and the Association for Commonwealth Languages and Literature.
Professor Gagiano has had a busy 2020, as the following list of publications reveals:
1) Her article “Recovering and recovering from an African past: four women’s quest narratives” was published online in the Journal of Transatlantic Studies. https://doi.org/10.1057/54738-019-00025-x The print issue is in Journal of Transatlantic Studies 17.3: 269-289. DOI: 10.1057/542738-019-00025
2) A paper she gave at the Penang conference (the International Conference on Literature debating the present state and possible future of Postcolonial and Diasporic Studies) has been published in The Wenshan Review of Literature and Culture 12.2 as an article titled “Postcolonial Illuminations of Past Betrayals in Tan’s The Gift of Rain and Owuor’s Dust.” The Print ISSN is 2077-1282 and the Online issue ISSN 2077-1290.
3) Her article for a special issue of the Tydskrif vir Letterkunde on Nuruddin Farah’s writing (edited by Fiona Fatima Moolla), titled “Male ‘Somaliness’ in diasporic contexts: Somali authors’ evaluative evocations”, has been published in this journal, vol.57 no. 1 (2020): 77- 87. ISSN: 0041-476x and DOI: 10.17159/2309-9070/tvl.v.1i
4) A commissioned article titled “Complicating Apartheid Resistance Histories by Means of South African Autobiographies” has been published in the journal a/b: Auto/Biography Studies for a special guest-edited issue; a/b vol. 35 no. 3 (2020): 667-689. DOI:10/1080/08989575.2020.1762996
5) Her article “Precarity, protectedness and power in Emmanuel Jal’s WARchild: a boy soldier’s story” will be published during early 2021 in a themed issue on ‘Precarity in African Literature’ (guest edited by Cheryl Stobie) of the journal Current Writing: Text and Reception in Southern Africa, as soon as it is assigned to an issue. DOI: 10.1080/1013929X.2020.1795352
In addition, her article on three African short stories titled “War-affected children in three African short stories: finding sanctuary within the space of placelessness” (submitted late 2019) had been accepted for publication in Commonwealth Essays & Studies in a special issue [eds Pascale Tollance & Claire Omhovère] on ‘Place & Placelessness in the Postcolonial Short Story.’
English 3 student Sarah Uheida (the class representative, and the Dryad Press Intern, and subsequently also the Dryad Social Media Manager), has recently won two major prizes.
Firstly, she has won the Dan Veach Prize for Younger Writers, awarded by the United States poetry journal, Atlanta Review. Named after an influential editor of the journal, the prize is for an exceptional piece of work by a college student between the ages of 18 – 23. On their Facebook page, the editors announce: “Sarah Uheida is 22 years old and was born in Tripoli, Libya. She is a poet and experimental memoirist currently completing her undergraduate degree in English Studies and Psychology at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Her work features in the literary journals New Contrast, Blindeye, Eunoia Review, The Shore, fresh.ink https://www.facebook.com/atlantareview/).
Secondly, out of almost 1000 applicants, Sarah is one of four recipients selected as a 2020 Miles Morland Writing Scholar. “The awards are based on submissions which include a book proposal and an excerpt of published writing.” The Miles Morland Foundation “is particularly interested in supporting African writing and African literature” (https://milesmorlandfoundation.com/), and the prize will support Sarah’s writing of a memoir, already underway, and likely to be the focus of her Honours independent project in 2021. As the Miles Morland announcement puts it, Uheida’s “proposed non-linear fictionalised memoir will centre her lived experience as a Muslim child survivor of her country’s disintegration into the Libyan Civil War, and the challenges of living as a refugee in South Africa. This is an ambitious project by a new and powerful voice” (https://milesmorlandfoundation.com/morland-writing-scholarship-winners-announcement-2020/).
An extract from Sarah’s memoir was published in the special ‘SU’ issue of New Contrast that was edited by Professor Sally-Ann Murray in 2019, with the support of the Mellon 30th Anniversary Artists’ in Residence Grant. Sarah also has poems in the 2020 special issue of this journal, which features notable student writers from UWC and SU, which was co-edited by Professor Sally-Anne Murray and Professor Kobus Moolman, again published with Mellon assistance.
In undergraduate news for the final term of class in 2020, third year undergraduate English Studies students, who enrolled for the Olive Schreiner elective course (first time offered) under Dr Tilla Slabbert, were asked to conduct independent research to construct a Schreiner network, inspired by Franco Moretti’s graph “A Tangled Mesh of Modernists”.
Their research topics invited them to:
1) Source correspondence between Schreiner and another historical subject (e.g. acquaintance, friend, foe, writer, politician, family member); to conduct a close reading of the (selected) sourced material; and to discuss what the communication reveals of each subjectivity and their individual views of socio-political issues of the time.
2) Source a writer (of fiction or non-fiction) or artist who has acknowledged Schreiner’s influence on their work and sensibilities. In a close analysis of the selected writer/artist’s work, or a particular text from their oeuvre, explore how Schreiner inspired the writer’s/artist’s thematic concerns and creative expression.
The group produced a truly impressive range of research essays, and the respective subjects sourced were brought together in this poster designed by student, Jodi Prinsloo.
BOOK PROPOSAL WORKSHOP
In November, SU Professor Extraordinaire Stephanie Newell, based at Yale, hosted a book proposal-writing workshop, offering her expert advice and guidance and providing feedback on the projects of participating staff members. Follow-up sessions will be arranged in 2021 and Professor Newell, working alongside Professor Louise Green, will continue to facilitate these.
In November 2020, universities around the country said farewell to the late Dr Robin Gaylard. Dr Gaylard was a beloved colleague in the Department of English at SU, where he worked from the late 1970s until his retirement at the end of 2009, and his loss resonates in our department and in English Departments around South Africa.
As of January 2021, the Department of English at SU also mourns the recent losses of friends who have played important roles in the story of the department, as well as losses suffered by friends, relatives and colleagues, and we pay our deepest respects to them.
2020. A year of many obstacles, but also many achievements. Despite the challenges posed by working remotely under various lockdown levels during the Covid-19 pandemic, colleagues in the English Department at Stellenbosch University (SU) have pressed on. Excellence, continuity in teaching and research: these are important, though sometimes we have simply done our best under horrible circumstances. And actually, that best is not looking too bad! Here’s a brief overview of some great achievements and activities, thus far.
Professor Louise Green’s book, Fragments from the History of Loss: Nature and the Postcolony has recently been published by Penn State University Press. The book has been recognised as a significant contribution to the politicising of the Anthropocene in contexts of postcolonial scholarship. In the words of Jennifer Wentzel, “With bracing nuance and salutary attention to inequality and immiseration, this scintillating book sifts through slices of time and fragments of nature in order to assemble shards of wisdom for living – lightly, with less – in the Anthropocene.”
Dr Uhuru Phalafala has for almost two years been leading an initiative to re-publish a volume called Malibongwe: Poems from the Struggle by ANC Women, now out from uHlanga. The book is the “first South African edition of a Struggle classic…banned by the apartheid regime – a book in and of exile,” featuring “poems written by women in ANC camps and offices throughout Africa and the world”. This re-issue of Malibongwe (authorised by the original editor Sono Molefe) “re-establishes a place for women artists in the history of South Africa’s liberation. These are the struggles within the Struggle”, as is argued in a new preface by Dr Phalafala, which outlines some of the book’s publishing history.
Dr Phalafala was interviewed in August by news24’s Lindokuhle Nkosi in a Q & A piece called ‘Vernaculars of the Spirit’. Read it here.
With a multi-institutional editorial team, Professor Tina Steiner and SU Prof Extraordinaire Evan Mwangi of Northwestern, worked collaboratively on a Wits University Press edition of DDT Jabavu’s travelogue In India and East Africa / E-Indiya nase East Africa, published in isiXhosa and English. The book represents a long, even labyrinthine, journey for the editors, across institutions, languages, cultures, continents, mediating between the politics of the past and the claims of the present. In re-rendering Jabavu’s experiences and views, it offers a very important and unusual contribution to the field.
Read about this groundbreaking volume here.
Dr Lauren Van der Rede has been selected for Stellenbosch University’s participation in the national ‘Early Career Academic Development (ECAD) Programme’. This institutional guidance, mentoring and grant will help to boost her already strengthening career.
Dr Tilla Slabbert is the host for a Subcommittee A Postdoc Fellowship held by Dr Lizelle Smit. The archival project focuses on recovering nineteenth and twentieth century South African women’s stories and histories. On the strength of Dr Smit’s excellent publication record, the award has been extended for a further year.
Professor Sally Ann Murray has been working with departmental colleague Dr Tilla Slabbert and University of the Western Cape (UWC) scholar Prof F Fiona Moolla, on a special issue of a/b Auto/Biography Studies. Addressing questions of ‘the AutobiogrAfrical’, the issue is just out from Routledge. Dr Nadia Sanger wrote an essay for the collection, titled ‘Bending Bodies, Signing Words: Reshaping a Father and a Feminist Practice’ .
Also, with Prof Kobus Moolman of UWC, Murray has co-edited the upcoming Spring 2020 issue of New Contrast, featuring creative work by senior students in the English departments of SU and UWC. This project is supported by her Andrew W Mellon 30th Anniversary Artists in Residence Grant, which this year saw poet Rustum Kozain teaching in the SU English Department, with artist Garth Erasmus in SU Visual Arts. Erasmus’ artwork features on the cover of the a/b special issue. Murray is also pleased with her own small creative joys, having had two poems selected for the ClemenGold Project (“The Mother of All Naartjies” and “Unforgettable”).
Dryad Press and the SU English Department have initiated an annual publishing internship, designed to offer the selected student an insight into the skills of publishing. The project was piloted in 2019, mentoring Honours student Caryn Oram (now pursuing an MA at Pretoria University). The 2020 Dryad intern is English 3 student Sarah Uheida, a poet and memoirist in the making whose work has featured in literary journals such as fresh.ink., Plume, Blindeye, the South African, and Eunoia Review.
Research Associate Dr Tyrone August’s book, Dennis Brutus, the South African Years, was published earlier in 2020 and several launches are forthcoming, with a departmental seminar discussion to be hosted later this year. The book has received attention in the USA and Dr August has been invited to join the Biographers International Organisation. Locally, the book is available at outlets like Protea Books, Clarke’s Bookshop and The Book Lounge.
Research Associate Dr Matthew Shum’s Improvisations of Empire is the first extended critical, biographical and historiographical account of the varied career and capacities of Thomas Pringle, the journalist, editor, “Scottish Romantic poet, South African settler and London-based advocate for abolition” (Jason Rudy, University of Maryland). For scholars of South African literature, “Pringle has been a long-time icon of South African liberalism,” and this “new study presents a more complex figure caught up in the contradictions of empire by a career that comprised poetry, settler propaganda and abolitionism.” You can read more about Improvisations of Empire here.
Professor Leslie Swartz, of SU Psychology, successfully defended his PhD in English Studies in July, with Professors Shaun Viljoen and Louise Green as supervisors. His memoir How I Lost My Mother has been contracted for publication in 2021 by Wits University Press.
Dr Wamuwi Mbao and Dr Riaan Oppelt both contributed to the fourth issue of herri, an interactive, inter-sensory platform that, according to editor and curator Aryan Kaganof, attempts to answer the question, ‘What does decolonisation look like in this age of hybridity?’ Dr Mbao wrote the essay, “Struggle Sounds” with audio clips and Dr Oppelt wrote the play, (Ultra) Lockdown, with original theme music.
In other news, Sarah Marecek’s documentary film Waking Stellenbosch, created as an Honours research project in the English Department at SU, has been selected for screening at the Encounters Film Festival from 20 to 30 August.
And to conclude, the SU library has secured e-copies of two departmental books: SU Professor Extraordinaire Stephanie Newell’s Histories of Dirt : Media and Urban Life in Colonial and Postcolonial Lagos, which colleagues and interested students can find at https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/sun/detail.action?docID=5992924 and Moving Spaces: Creolisation and Mobility in Africa, the Atlantic and Indian Ocean, edited by Prof Shaun Viljoen, SU Research Associate Dr Fernando Rosa and Prof Marina Berthet (Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil): http://search.ebscohost.com.ez.sun.ac.za/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=2266998&site=ehost-live&scope=site
Dryad Press (Dryad) is excited to announce the formal launch of a student internship programme first piloted in 2019. The initiative is a collaboration with Stellenbosch University’s (SU) English Department and offers a student from the department the opportunity to experience the multi-dimensional world of publishing, under the mentorship of Dryad’s founder, Michèle Betty. Dryad was established in 2016 as an independent literary press dedicated to contemporary South African poetry. It has published both new and established poets, among them award-winners Beverly Rycroft, Sally Ann Murray and Tony Ullyatt. Publisher Michèle Betty is also the editor of New Contrast: South African Literary Journal. The internship is an initiative encouraged under Sally Ann Murray’s leadership as Chair of the SU English Department; going forward, colleagues in the department will oversee the selection process of the intern by shortlisting candidates (ideally postgraduates enrolled for English Honours or Masters). Dryad Press will interview potential interns, one of whom will be selected for the 24-week internship programme. Applicants require strong writing skills and administrative potential, and an interest in local literary culture.
The recipient of the pilot internship in 2019 was SU English Honours student Caryn Leigh Oram. Caryn says that her “time as an intern provided the opportunity to gain invaluable knowledge and experience in the literary industry. Under Michèle’s guidance, I was able to refine my industry skills, learn the publishing process and, of course, read exceptional poetry. The internship programme is a brilliant opportunity.” The internship enabled so many reciprocal benefits that Caryn now serves as Dryad’s social media consultant, and the Dryad/SU PIP has been formalised as an annual occurrence.
The intern selected for 2020 is Sarah Uheida, who is currently completing her BA, majoring in English. She is a poet with several credits to her name, and an experimental memoirist whose work has garnered expressions of interest from publishers.
We congratulate Sarah on her appointment as the Dryad intern, and wish her a productive six month stint at Dryad, from June to December 2020.
Michèle Betty Sally Ann Murray
New book by SU English Department Research Associate, Dr Matthew Shum
Improvisations of Empire is the first extended critical, biographical and historiographical account of the varied career and capacities of Thomas Pringle, the journalist, editor, “Scottish Romantic poet, South African settler and London-based advocate for abolition” (Jason Rudy, University of Maryland). For scholars of South African literature, “Pringle has been a long-time icon of South African liberalism,” and this “new study presents a more complex figure caught up in the contradictions of empire by a career that comprised poetry, settler propaganda and abolitionism. Equally in command of close reading and relocations that include Scotland, Cape Colony and mid-nineteenth-century London, Improvisations of Empire is a truly eye-opening study” (Jon Mee, University of York). Published by Anthem Press (New York), in its series Advances in African Cultural Studies, Shum’s volume “shows how a careful reading of a literary oeuvre can transform how we think about the legacies of the colonial era. It rescues Pringle from the realms of liberal mythmaking, casting new light on a historical period in which nation-building, class-consciousness, abolition, Christian evangelism and colonialism were deeply entangled” (Peter D. McDonald, University of Oxford). Improvisations of Empire “is likely to remain the definitive reading of Thomas Pringle for many years to come” (David Attwell, University of York).
With the permission of the Skotnes family, the front cover of the book features an image by Cecil Skotnes, from a series of large painted panels housed in the 1820 Settlers Monument in Makhanda (Grahamstown).
Author’s email: email@example.com
I have been teaching a course on Black Consciousness poetry in the universities for close to seven years and have been nagged by the silence and absence of women in that unfolding radical moment. For about five years now, every August, the month that in South Africa marks women’s month, an image of Minister Lindiwe Zulu from the 1980s circulates on social media. She looks away from the book in her hands to confront us with a direct gaze into the camera, with a Kalashnikov resting easily next to her hip.
The image represents a battle fought with both ideological and military warfare; what the Cold War machine would have called soft power (culture) and hard power (artillery). That image of a female guerilla looks as provocative as it does organic: the people closest to the pain should be closest to power, driving and informing the contours and contents of a revolution. The country’s history dictated their constitution: black, hypermasculine, clandestine, and Molotov-wielding. The battle lines were drawn along racial lines exclusively.
When the white oligarchy peddled fear in their white subjects through the image of swart gevaar what they conjured was not black women. But history absolves them today. Their variegated voices erased by national liberation narratives shall be heard. Black women were at the frontlines and in the underground confronted with a distinctive battle, against the white supremacist machine impaling their families and communities, and often against hetero-patriarchy within their ranks, which came to symbolise the notion of nation. To be a female guerrilla was to submit oneself to multiple warfares. They were in the trenches of Tanzania, Angola, and Mozambique as fighters, teachers, students, guerillas, and nurses.
Lindiwe Mabuza championed the Malibongwe book project. She drafted a letter to the head of the ANC’s women’s section, Florence Maphosho, to propose the idea. Mabuza asked Maphosho to disseminate the letter to all the women in the camps, offices of the ANC around the world, and at the nascent Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College (Somafco). There was great interest as hand-written submissions from all the camps began to arrive in Lusaka. Angela Dladla-Sangweni, Mabuza’s sister in law, helped to type all the poems. Mabuza had the full manuscript by the time she went to Sweden in 1979. At the time she was also at the helm of fundraising to construct the new Somafco, and had arranged for artists within the Angola camps to contribute drawings and illustrations which she could sell to advance that cause.
She sold the originals to several Scandinavian countries as she was ANC’s official representative to the entire Nordic region, but kept copies for inclusion in the first edition of Malibongwe’s English version. She approached then-secretary at the Center for International Solidarity in Sweden, Bjorn Andreasson, to help raise funds for the publication of the poetry anthology. While this was in the pipelines, the German translation became the first to be published by Munich-based Weltkreis-Verlag in 1980. Translated by Elizabeth Thompson and Peter Schütt, this edition was expedited by the ambassador of the ANC Mission for the Federal Republic of Germany and Austria, Tony Seedat, and wife, Dr. Aziza Seedat. They had already been in liaison with the publisher in 1980, who was at the time publishing another South African poetry collection by Keorapetse Kgositsile titled Herzspeuren/Heartprints (1980), at the behest of Aziza Seedat.
In 1981 Bengt Save Soderbergh of the Centre for International Solidarity of the Labour Organization in Sweden had taken over oversee the full publication process, and published 2000 English language copies. Most copies were distributed by ANC officials around the world, at the discretion of the party’s chief representatives. At subsequent ANC meetings and rallies people were reading the women’s poetry. Meanwhile Soderberg approved funding for Erik Stinus to translate the anthology into Swedish and Danish, published in 1982 by the anti-apartheid solidarity group Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke. Later in the decade (date unknown) the Finnish Peace Committee had a smaller batch of the anthology translated into Finnish and published in Helsinki. The demand for Malibongwe’s German edition resulted in the second edition being reprinted in 1987, this time carrying five illustrations by ANC member and eminent abstract expressionist Dumile Feni, one emblazoned on the cover. This was inspired by the illustration and design of Kgositsile’s collection. We carry the spirit of collaboration in this edition through the awe inspiring Feni masterpiece. These networks of international solidarity and support attest to the power of culture in fostering strong political tools for revolution.
Some of the poets in this anthology have used pseudonyms as they were underground. The following contributors have since passed on: Belinda Martins, Thuli Kubeka, Phumzile Zulu, and Mpho Segomotso Dombo. May their revolutionary souls rest in peace.