In the past, the voices of black writers, especially black female writers, in South Africa have been quite few and far between. And honestly, even the books that I did read about a decade or so ago would not really strike a chord with me. Granted the household names of Ndumiso Ngcobo and Zakes Mda, etc. have provided entertaining and humorous reads and although they are also black people, theirs is not my story nor my life experience. I’m not a dude and I’m not like middle-aged or whatever (I don’t really know how old those okes are). So in the search for my artistic voice and a place in South Africa’s young writing world – well, young black writing world – I needed to at least find a kindred spirit or connect with some texts. I remember being very moved/affected by Bessie Head’s Maru in my teens and that was definitely the first female writer of colour I felt connected to. I was glad to know that this was a thing that could happen. A year or two later, I read Kopano Matlwa’s Coconut, although not my favourite writing style, I appreciated that there were some parallels and similar occurrences I could nod along to while reading the book. There was room for young women who grew up post-apartheid and had a different set of experiences and struggles in modern South Africa. And that’s the short of how I started considering myself a writer. I had a story and I wanted to tell that story.
Fast forward to a couple of years later, on a partly sunny day in April, Janine, Saneze and I sat at a cosy corner at Moo Moo’s to start The W(h)iner’s Circle. We have a lot of wine and we don’t actually whine, we discuss. Apart from my days on Perdeby (my uni’s campus paper) and a novel I wrote with Juliet, I have never actively tried to be involved in anything to even remotely acquaint myself with people who shared my literary interests until these two gems came along, and the obvious mental readiness I needed for that. It’s not in my nature to be on board with things that require effort but my admiration and belief in San and Jan made me jump at the opportunity. It was such a privilege and honour to me that I was even invited to essentially be a founding member of something we are all committed to and want to cultivate and grow. This is where we come to create and commiserate, where we come to produce content and bear witness to each others produced content. This is the place where we get our artistic juices refilled and voices heard and amplify the voices that are seldom heard. We read together, write together, consume all forms of art together and inspire each other. And are, of course, on a steady ongoing quest to find like-minded people to join us on this new adventure. This is something that I needed and am so proud to be a part of. I’m truly looking forward to the whole experience. Can you tell I’m pumped about this?!
You can follow Janine’s unfiltered commentary on everyday life, San’s random and loaded musings and my ridiculous tv and sports obsessed ramblings on Twitter: @komkuierdashian, @notpottedplant & @zoethewriter_sa
Don’t be afraid to give us a shout if you find yourself drawn to the cause 🙂