Dis­cov­er­ing black­ness, fem­i­nism in ‘Col­lec­tive Am­ne­sia’

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - LESEGO MAKGATHO lesego.makgatho@inl.co.za

AN EX­TRACT from Col­lec­tive Am­ne­sia reads: “Rein­car­na­tion. The mir­ror spits your grand­mother back to you. Her de­ter­mined eyes. Her ma­chete mouth. Her howl­ing courage. You are third-gen­er­a­tion. Mes­siah.”

Kick­ing off the show with a short read­ing from her book, Koleka Pu­tuma stood in front of ea­ger lit­er­a­ture lovers at the Mar­ket The­atre on Tues­day night for the last Joburg leg of her Col­lec­tive Am­ne­sia book tour.

Poet Lebo Mashile to­gether with Pu­tuma and jour­nal­ist Mil­isuthando Bon­gela were part of the panel dis­cus­sion.

“My black­ness wasn’t some­thing I nec­es­sar­ily un­der­stood un­til I en­coun­tered whites. For a long time I only looked at black­ness and the race. I had to make sense of what is fem­i­nism to me and to my mother,” said Bon­gela dur­ing the dis­cus­sion.

While the dis­cus­sion was driven by the panel, mem­bers of the au­di­ence also got a chance to share ex­tracts from the book.

Bon­gela said the book was filled with re­flec­tions of one­self. She said the book was a mem­oir of his­to­ries that had been for­got­ten and ig­nored in South African so­ci­ety.

“I grew up with Paula White, Chris­tian in­spi­ra­tion and all the Chris­tian books, and I en­coun­tered all the books on con­scious­ness and black­ness two years ago. We don’t only read by text. We read by ab­sorb­ing, ob­serv­ing.

“When we talk about an­other type of text, I was read­ing the ways my fam­ily nav­i­gated their mar­riages, work and chil­dren, their house­holds and then them­selves. We come from com­mu­ni­ties where we raise each other,” added Pu­tuma.

“If you’re a black woman in this coun­try, you ei­ther get killed fast, or you get killed slow in a span of a life­time,” said Mashile, talk­ing about how tough it is to be a black per­son in the coun­try.

“Pu­tuma is ex­plor­ing the model for South African lit­er­a­ture. This book is go­ing to be a life­line for so many women who fol­low her work. The work of black women saved my life,” said Mashile who was en­light­ened af­ter read­ing books by the likes of Maya An­gelou and Toni Mor­ri­son.

Pu­tuma’s ex­plo­ration of black­ness, wom­an­hood and his­tory in Col­lec­tive Am­ne­sia is fear­less and un­wa­ver­ing. The 24-year-old is based in Cape Town and aims to take the reader into nos­tal­gia with her col­lec­tion of po­ems.

She is claim­ing her space and her stance in the world of lit­er­a­ture.

Ex­plor­ing the model for South African lit­er­a­ture

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