Book Launch: Malibongwe: poems from the struggle by ANC women

Date: 18 Sep 2020

Time: 18:00 SAST

Place: The Commune, 14 Reserve street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg

On the 18th of September The Commune hosted a virtual book launch of ‘Malibongwe: poems from the struggle by ANC women’.

This is a book of collaboration and homecoming, four decades in the making. First published in 1981 as ‘Malibongwe: ANC Women: Poetry is also their Weapon’, it was soon banned by the Apartheid government. It was republished and translated throughout Europe, “a book in and of exile” as it’s latest publishers uHlanga Press describe. Half forgotten, it has never appeared in a South African edition – until now. Authored by the editor Lindiwe Mabuza (a.k.a. Sono Molefe), this re-issue re-establishes a place for women artists in the history of South Africa’s liberation.

These are the struggles within the Struggle: a book that records the hopes and fears, the drives and disappointments, and the motivation and resilience of women at the front lines of the battle against apartheid. Here we see the evidence, too often airbrushed out of the narratives of national liberation, of a deep and unrelenting radicalism within women; of a dream of a South Africa in which not only freedom reigned, but justice too.

In celebration of this living history, The Commune was honoured to host a discussion between the editor, the person responsible for the book’s repatriation and new preface, Uhuru Phalafala as well as poet and activist Makhosazana Xaba, whose words introduce this edition.

The conversation was facilitated by teacher and historian, Athambile Masola. Dr Athambile Masola is a lecturer at the University of Pretoria and co-founder of Asinakuthula Collective.

Dr Lindiwe Mabuza is an experienced diplomat and politician. She is the former South African High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. She is a widely respected poet, and has had six volumes of poetry published around the world. She was a Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Minnesota and a Professor of Literature & History at Ohio University, Athens. She is the recipient of an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Durban-Westville, Durban, South Africa. She is the recipient of the Degree of Doctor honoris causa at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

Makhosazana Xaba is an anthologist, essayist, poet and writer of short stories and currently a Research Associate at the Wits Institute for Social & Economic Research. Her poetry has been anthologised widely and translated into isiXhosa, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, SeTswana and Turkish and her edited anthologies have been translated into Spanish. She holds and MA in Creative Writing from Wits University. She grounds her work on feminist politics.

Dr Uhuru Phalafala is a lecturer in the English department at Stellenbosch University. She is the 2018 University of Michigan African Presidential Scholar, and 2019 African Humanities Program fellow. Her research interests are material cultures, archives, apartheid- & Cold War-era cultural circulations, black internationalism, translation, decoloniality, and world literatures. She currently heads a Mellon-funded research project ‘Recovering Subterranean Archives’, which investigates South African culture in exile, repatriates and republishes it.