I had the extraordinary fortune of tuning into On Being with Krista Tippett the other day (shout out to Cleo Wade for including the podcast in the list of activities she embarks on as part of her regular self-care).
Tippett’s guest for the day was one of my absolute favorite people in the world, Reverend angel Kyodo williams. The title of the episode is “The World is Our Field of Practice”, and it is extraordinary! One that I will return to again and again!
“I just want to say that I think black America, as non-monolithic as it is, has persisted in an amazing grace throughout the history of this country that is phenomenal; that if any of us were willing to be just a little bit sane [laughs] and look, we would recognize, “Oh, my goodness. How extraordinary that black people, in particular — indigenous people, as well — could live the lives of dignity that they have chosen for themselves in the face of the onslaught of what this country’s history has been and continues to be and continues to put upon them.” So grace, I think, is a gift that black peoples have inhabited for a great deal of time.”
And yes, I realize that Rev. williams focuses on African-Americans in her comment. The linkage that I make with the women of South Africa is one that I insist upon because 1: imperialism is a plague and 2: our refusal to recognize connections reinforces the divides that others seek to profit from and 3: our insistence on privileging one person or group’s suffering over another’s keeps the status quo in place and makes us complicit in Our own oppression and exploitation.
The women in the video–so beautiful, strong, courageous, fierce and full of grace in the face of profound marginalization, physical and psychological abuse, severe impoverishment, human loss and its concomitant pain because of the violence that arises out of desperation and the ravages of the AIDS epidemic that they have suffered throughout their lives–are truly inspiring.
While watching the video I couldn’t help but reflect on the Dutch invasion of what the invaders named The Cape of Good Hope in the 17th century (because it saved their asses, literally) and their arrogance in their conviction that the lands that they decided was theirs to own was uninhabited. And instead of giving the land back to the indigenous people when they realized that it was inhabited they had the audacity to enact laws to force those same indigenous people into the most infertile, unforgiving land on an earth space that was and is resplendent with natural resources–like diamonds from which the DeBeers family continues to grow wealthy!!!
Check out the Soccer Grannies here:
Some literary works worth the read:
You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town (2000) by Zoe Wicomb
A Walk in the Night and Other Stories (1968) by Alex La Guma
In the Fog of the Season’s End (2012) also by Alex La Guma
Anything by Bessie Head but here are a couple of suggestions:
A Question of Power (2017)
Second Class Taxi (1984) by Sylvester Stein
Anything by Zakes Mda, but here are a few suggestions:
She Plays in the Darkness (2004)
Ways of Dying (2002)
The Heart of Redness (2013)
Cion: A Novel (2007)
Fools and Other Stories (1986) by Njabulo Ndebele
South African Literature and Culture: Rediscovery of the Ordinary also by Njabulo Ndebele
The Cry of Winnie Mandela (2007) also by Njabulo Ndebele
Disgrace (2000) by J.M. Coetzee
July’s People: A Novel (1982) by Nadine Gordimer
**This is just a small sampling of some of the amazing literature that came out of apartheid South Africa. There is so much more to discover!!
A great documentary film to check out:
South Africa Belongs to Us (1980) dirs. Ruth Weiss, Chris Austin, Peter Chappell