Lwando Xaso on writing 'Made in South Africa'

14 February 2021 - 00:00 By Lwando Xaso
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Published in the Sunday Times (14/02/2021)

This book was inspired by a deep desire to be in conversation with the country that has defined who I am. For so long I was a passive participant in the affairs of my country. I was an observer too timid to speak up. Too doubtful of my own opinions and deferring to those who I thought knew best. I held back, thinking it was not my place to contribute to our national discourse. I thought one had to have earned their voice through a lifetime of lived experiences.

So I spent years in conversation with myself. I have journals full of unshared thoughts and ideas. Then there came a point where I had to deem myself worthy to be part of my country. This point came through my experience clerking at the Constitutional Court for justice Edwin Cameron. The work we did thrust us into the most difficult national dialogues, which the court is tasked with settling for good.

The experience taught me to fight for the things that matter and to even voice my dissent to the most brilliant mind I have ever encountered - that of justice Cameron. I watched how he used his voice and he encouraged me to use mine even if it was to disagree with him. I learnt that all of us who are the inhabitants of this country owe it to the future of our country to participate in its constant making.

Made in South Africa was inspired by my desire to have a more intimate relationship with
my country and fellow citizens. I write to harness my rage against our ways that fall short of our constitutional vision, to revere all the ways we resist our complete destruction and to respect the progress we have made against the most impossible odds.

Covid-19 anxiety went into the process of writing in Made in South Africa. The unexpected global events made me doubt whether 2020 was the right time to write my first book. However, it was the writing of my book that helped me stay connected to myself during this tumultuous time. A lot of hours in lockdown went into making Made in South Africa.

Once the anxiety over the uncertainty of the year dissipated, I was able to access my thoughts. I will always associate my book with that historic year.

The fact that I was brave enough to submit my draft for publication was my biggest act of courage yet because I was terrified by the permanence of it all.

I consider the book unfinished. I still have things I want to change and add but if we had forever to write we would never pull the trigger. Even though the book has been published, the book will never be finished because the conversation is ongoing.

Made in South Africa by Lwando Xaso is published by Tracey McDonald Publishers, R275

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