Athambile Masola

Asinakuthula umhlab’ubolile: the poetry of Nontsizi Mgqwetho

Kaulirol’iqinga Siwavun’amazimba Hoha Mrs M. Maxeke Mti omde orara wakulo Deborah Bhikica emva kwabavumi Mrs M. Maxeke Ze nengcwaba lamagqwira Libe ndaweninye (Ho, Mrs M. Maxeke, Tall, bitter tree, Deborah’s sister, Give us advice On harvesting crops Glean in the wake of the reapers Mrs M. Maxeke So every witch Drops down dead) These are…

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On black excellence: Charlotte Mannya Maxeke

I’ve been reading Zubeida Jaffer’s biography of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke, Beauty of the Heart. I was very excited at the prospect of finally having a book available about a woman who is mostly known through the hospital that is named after her in Johannesburg. Beyond the hospital naming, I doubt she is a household name….

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Heritage Day: What’s wrong with this picture?

I have a love-hate relationship with Heritage Day. Beyond the warm and fuzzy feelings of seeing people in different and beautiful outfits representing their heritage — our diversity as the rainbow nation — it’s also a point of tension and possibly pain. In the wake of a cultural appropriation incident a few months ago, Heritage…

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The things we do in the name of transformation

I came across the recent cover of Independent Education and I was troubled. It is a picture of a black boy donned in Scottish garb while participating in a parade. The blurb inside the magazine explaining the front cover reads: “About our cover: Grade 10 student Sanele Mboto is the current drum major of the St…

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A letter to a mother who raised black girls

Dear Mama I don’t know if you’ve seen the news: young girls at Pretoria Girls High School have been in the news because their school has racist hair rules. Apparently their some of their parents don’t agree with their protest. What has also been in the news is the story about 3000 girls in the…

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What’s in a woman’s [sur]name?

Last year I visited the bank to do some admin and I was informed that my surname on their system differed to that which was in my ID. I was enraged. It was a few months after my partner and I had gotten married. We had gone to the Randburg Home Affairs office and with…

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Approaching women’s month: The misconception about the politically connected women

As we creep towards August the question of women’s empowerment will come to the fore the same way young people become the flavour of the month during June. These conversations will be recycled versions of the conversations that have been happening for many decades in South Africa and will mostly resemble the conversation between Sakina…

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Making sense of #ThisFlag, Zimbabwean dissent and South African solidarity

Blessed are the poor, in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Jesus. (Commas restored) . Jesus was as usual talking about solidarity: about how we join with others and, in spirit, feel the world, and suffering, the same as them. This is the kingdom of owning the other as self, the self as…

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In solidarity with women who speak out

This morning I woke up and like most people logged onto Facebook — out of habit. I saw a friend’s status about a reference list. I naively thought she was referring to her PhD reference list. I made a glib comment with an emoji and scrolled down for more news. The next status I saw…

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Rape, the South African nightmare

By the time I was in matric three of my friends had told me they had been raped. Not by strangers in some dark alley the way I imagined rape happened. They were raped by people who were in their inner circle: friends, acquaintances. When I was in Grade 11 someone I knew was gang…

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