Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Event News

SA Book Fair works to keep feminism in focus this year


The all-women team behind the South African Book Fair is hard at work this Women’s Month, preparing two unmissable feminist focused sessions as part of a full and exciting programme that will run virtually from 11-13 September 2020.

Feminism: Our Bodies, Our Truths takes place on Saturday September 12th from 16h00 – 17h00. The session features Mishumo Maduma, Terry-Ann Adams, Jen Thorpe and Anelile Gibixego in discussion with Dr. Alma-Nalisha Cele on how women’s bodies filter their life experiences, and can be tools for conformity or resistance.

It is followed by an examination of the book, Perils of Patriarchy: Whenever, Wherever, Everyday – Confront not Cower on Sunday September 13th from12h00 – 13h00. Panelists Cassandra Moodley, Felicia Thobejane, Thuli Nduvane and Yasaar Moosa will give insight into the collection of 10 honest essays by 10 womxn that give their real-life accounts of the patriarchy in their spaces, bodies, skin, hair, and sexuality. The session will be facilitated by the book’s editor, Candice Chirwa.

Feminism plays a central role in the writing and lives of panelists and facilitators taking part in South African Book Fair 2020. Says facilitator Alma-Nalisha Cele, “Feminism was the portal through which I stepped into the highway version of myself. Black, womxn and alive in this world. Feminism gave me the language to name my experiences.”

“Black women will write ourselves into history’s archives,” states Anelile Gibixego, contributor to Living While Feminist: Our Bodies, Our Truths with the essay “Feminism in the church – The Teaching and the Unlearning”. “When I write as a feminist, I write to empower, to acknowledge and to explore our diversities.”

“The power of structural violence is that it tries to silence us. The power of feminism is that it gives us a voice,” says Jen Thorpe, Living While Feminist: Our Bodies, Our Truths editor.

Mishumo Madima, whose essay “Not Just Hair” is also featured in Living While Feminist: Our Bodies, Our Truths adds, “I am always trying to balance between my ideals of an equal world and the reality on the ground. For feminism to be relevant, it needs to be translated into what it means in our daily lives.”

“Feminism was the portal through which I stepped into the highway version of myself. Black, womxn and alive in this world. Feminism gave me the language to name my experiences”, Dr. Alma-Nalisha Cele.

“There are no voiceless people, we cannot claim to be the “voice of the voiceless” without erasing the lived experiences of others,” says upcoming writer, Terry-Ann Adams. “I write about my own lived experience as a Coloured woman with albinism, always looking to the principles of intersectional feminism as a guide.”

South African Book Fair is also hosting a history-themed session that looks at the role of women in struggles for liberation, with a focus on how their stories are not documented or, if they are, are frequently located in the domestic, not national, realm. This will take place on Sunday 13 September at 15h30.

As part of building a reflective and representative South African and African literary culture, 26 beneficiaries have been selected for exhibition subsidies at this year’s virtual South African Book Fair with a further 13 joining them for training. Importantly, black women-owned businesses make up 36 percent of the entrepreneurs taking part in this comprehensive SMME skills development initiative made possible by the FP&M Seta.

“A focus on feminism is an important element of our extensive programme this year,” says Elitha van der Sandt, CEO of the South African Book Development Council, which runs the South African Book Fair.

“I have long believed that being a woman with a mission is something that all of us can be, no matter what sphere of social-economic life we find ourselves in. We encourage all to join the fair as we celebrate more and more women shaping their own narratives.”

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