Feminism in focus at virtual SA Book Fair 2020

14 August 2020 - 09:45
Feminism plays a central role in the writing and lives of panelists and facilitators taking part in SA Book Fair 2020.
Feminism plays a central role in the writing and lives of panelists and facilitators taking part in SA Book Fair 2020.
Image: Supplied

The all-women team behind the SA Book Fair (SABF) 2020 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 September 11 to 13.

Feminism: Our Bodies, Our Truths takes place on September 12 from 4pm to 5pm. 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 September 13  from 12pm to 1pm. Panelists Cassandra Moodley, Felicia Thobejane, Thuli Nduvane and Yasaar Moosa will give insight into the collection of 10 honest essays by 10 womxn who 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 SABF 2020.

Facilitator Cele said: “Feminism was the portal through which I stepped into the highest 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,” said 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,” said Thorpe, Living While Feminist editor.

Madima, whose essay Not Just Hair is also featured in Living While Feminist, said: “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.”

"There are no voiceless people. We cannot claim to be the 'voice of the voiceless' without erasing the lived experiences of others,” said upcoming writer 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." 

SABF 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 and, if they are, are frequently located in the domestic, not national, realm. This will take place on September 13 at 3.30pm.

As part of building a reflective and representative SA and African literary culture, 26 beneficiaries have been selected for exhibition subsidies at this year’s virtual SABF with a further 13 joining them for training. Importantly, black women-owned businesses make up 36% of the entrepreneurs taking part in this comprehensive SMME skills development initiative made possible by the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing Sector Education and Training Authority.

“A focus on feminism is an important element of our extensive programme this year,” said Elitha van der Sandt, chief executive of the SA Book Development Council, which runs the SABF. 

“I have long believed that being a woman with a mission is something 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.”

Article courtesy of the SABF