Racism, Violence, Betrayals and New Imaginaries: Feminist Voices, published by the University of Kwazulu-Natal (UKZN) Press, was launched on Thursday, 19 May at the Homecoming Centre of the District Six Museum. English Department senior lecturer Dr. Nadia Sanger co-edited this collection with Dr. Benita Moolman of the University of Cape Town (UCT), and both were at the launch in discussion with Bonita Bennett, ex-director of the District Six Museum.
The book is a unique anthology of writings on race and racism by black women from South Africa and Brazil and consists of both fiction and non-fiction. The contributions speak to the personal and political worlds of the writers, who are concerned with social justice, human rights, and freedom. Contributors include Yvette Abrahams, Liliane Braga, Luciana Braga, Sarah Malotane Henkeman, Tigist Shewarega Hussen, Dane Isaacs, Vanessa R. Ludwig, Delia Meyer and the editors, Nadia Sanger and Benita Moolman, among others.
Bennett offered her selected readings of the book and conducted an engaging and flowing discussion with Drs Sanger and Moolman regarding the aims of the book, its origins, and the rich contributions, of which Bennett highlighted many.
The participants readily engaged with their audience, allowing for a free-flowing interaction that emphasized the importance of dialogue about race, humanity, and freedom at all times. The meaning and definition of the term ‘black’ was pondered, as well as notions of freedom within the global and local social and political phenomena of today.
The atmosphere was refreshingly different to routine book launches, with the space of the Homecoming Centre and its reminders of Cape Town’s history offering a contextual framework for some of the discussion topics. Children were present and active in a different, child-friendly zone but pleasantly made their presence felt now and then, creating a storied sense of family amid provocative and profound conversations about race and identity. Dr. Sanger noted the troubled, universal state of race relations by acknowledging the deadly race shooting in Buffalo, New York and the Theuns Du Toit incident at Stellenbosch University, both which had occurred days prior to the event at the Homecoming Centre.
Several of the book’s contributors were present, including Delia Meyer, who responded to a request to read her poem, ‘was my mother’, included in the book; Monique Tamara, who wrote “ⱡ An: (the visceral experience of body politics, perception and sensation): An open letter” ,and Dane Isaacs, who co-wrote the essay “Claustrophobic and unable to move: Representations and social discourses of racism and inequality in the Western Cape media”.
Racism, Violence, Betrayals and New Imaginaries: Feminist Voices is available now, at under R200 from Loot, and has already been included to the Stellenbosch University library, where its presence is a matter of priority. In the words of Mary Hames, head of the Gender Equity Unit at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), ‘This is an important work by black feminists from the South…’
A second launch for the book is scheduled for June 6th at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS).