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Kopano Matlwa

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE


I’ve felt many things as a South African, but never shame. I’ve felt pride, when I’d look back on our history and seen what we’ve overcome, so courageously. I’ve felt joy, like the day it was announced that we’d be hosting the world cup and we all ran into the streets and leaped into the air. I’ve felt hope when I’d visited primary schools and seen the many Colgate smiles hard at work. But never shame. Ya sure I’ve felt sadness, deep sadness when another news report writes of another raped little girl, sure I’ve felt fear sometimes, when looking out the window and locking the doors at night, but never ever shame. The crime, the unemployment, the politics all those you could explain away, hypothesize about, debate about. But this? What is this? Go etsagalang ka rena batho ba bantsho? What are we doing?

Each time I bump into someone, an aunt or an uncle that perhaps was not born here but lives here now and is thus family, I find myself casting my eyes down pretending not to have seen them. I am so ashamed to be South African today. I do not know how we got here nor care to understand, because no reason will suffice the horrors that have been and are being committed towards ‘foreigners’. I do pray though that somehow all this mess can be rectified and that someday our cousins, grannies, nephews and sisters from (might one note) not so far, will be able to forgive us.


When looking back on this past year I am reminded yet again of the wonder of the great God that lives within all of us and the infinite possibilities this life holds and of the magic of each new day and the great gift of this thing we call life.

It’s hard to describe cause im not quite sure if I understand it myself. I want to tell you that it has been a year of growth, but then which year isn’t. I want to say I have learnt a lot but who doesn’t learn something from each new day.

Sure the obvious things have been cool like book sales, traveling, positive reviews blah blah blah, but it was the not so obvious, subtle sometimes almost negative things that made this year one that will be noted in my book of those most memorable.

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The article as i wrote it (and not what appeared in the paper)

“The state of indigenous languages in schools or tertiary institutions”

…is sad. But then again, I am no authority on the topic, just a young person, growing up in now south Africa, torn between that flourishing, booming world that benchmarks itself against the proud Western standard and a vague almost contradictory voice within that intermittently screams ‘but can’t we do it our way!’

But who cares and who is listening anyway? Indigenous languages have fizzled out in Nigeria, Liberia, Togo, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Sudan, Liberia and Sierra Leone so what makes us think we are any different and that we will survive natural selection? Perhaps, as some suggest, it is progressive to leave all of it behind, move with the times, adapt and stop trying to politicize everything. Languages, they will tell you, expire all the time all over the world, Latin, Welsh, Cornish, Yiddish being some of the few. Societies are dynamic, and as they change, move and evolve so do languages.

But is it that simple? A light matter of adaptation? Are languages not more than just strings of words that can be forgotten and discarded like plastic jewelry?

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The way the cookie crumbles…

its a sad day when you stop believing in people, in honesty and integrity and goodness in the world. and when it happens you are stunned and rendered paralysed and find yourself asking if maybe it was something that you had done wrong.

I was commissioned to write a piece for the sunday times over a month ago in response to a debate on the state of indigenous languages in schools. I agreed to write the article after some convincing for i am no authority on the matter and was hesitant to speak about something i did not know enough about. (But then again saw it as a privelage to have been given an oppurtunity to have my views (me?) in THE weekend paper.) imagine my shock and dismay when it did appear 4wks later contorted and deformed, not the way i had written it nor in the context it was supposed to be in. I was angry, very angry, but also confused and perplexed because surely that is not the way things are done? Surely? or are they and am i just terribly young and naive? and if that is just the way the cookie crumbles then what about everything else we read? Has that also been slanted and biased and changed?

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frankfurt buche messe (or something like that:)

just got back from the frankfurt book fair. wow! its so huge! never in my life have i been surrounded by so many books and book lovers at one time. i was so happy i wanted to sprawl myself across the floor and kiss the feet of all who walked past me. but fear not, i restrained myself and have decided to savour the kisses for next year (when i will hopefully be invited again… hint hint… Bridget, i know you read this:) ok bye for now, need to catch up on some sleep

it’s me again!

I know… its been so long, but never once were you out of my mind, i promise! SO much has happened since we last spoke. Last time we chatted i was doing my psychiatry block getting ready for a weekend at home in Jozi courtesy of the University of Johannesburg. (But boy did i have to pay for it!) I did a reading for a very serious and stiff crowd there who psychoanalysed every word in the book including the colour of cover (which i assure you has nothing to do with anything) and poked and prodded and searched and dug for things that honestly weren’t there until THEY put them there.

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One person i would not want to be right now is Manto. I guess when you go into politics you should know what you are getting yourself into, but ay, its still crazy to have your name dragged across newspapers, then crushed under foot every weekend. Imagine waking up to radio stations calling you a kleptomaniac, drunk, liar and thief. No thank you.

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today is one of those lazy days where u wake up, lie around, try to study, wonder about the world, eat two spoon fulls of something unidentifiable in the fridge, cry over an old anita baker song and fall asleep again.


So last time i wrote i was a teeny weenie bit angry, but i’m over all that now (managed to get myself summoned to court for refusing to pay for a traffic fine) but other than that things are pretty much back to normal :) he he!

We had the annual JD Baqwa Memorial Lecture at Forest Hill residence, UCT, yesterday and it really was quite an inspiring evening. the guest speaker was Prof Makgoba Vice Chancellor of University of KZN and he spoke about knowledge, identity and culture in Africa. There was a lot that was said last night, all very inspiring and motivational, but what really stuck was a quote Prof Makgoba read about what was said by America when Harvard was started many years ago. » read more

I’m SO pissed off

Do i need to get raped for the police to take me seriously?! I’m so angry, so frustrated, so aaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! My car got broken into last night (right here, in the residence, tightly secured by campus patrol services) and i’ve been waiting the entire day for the police to at least pretend they give a rats ass and come take finger prints (like they assured me they’d do).

Its’ not that i actually care about the fingerprints or the poor desperado that stole some old school music nobody would buy and the radio i got for free but the fact that we’ve gotten so accustomed to crime, to being pushed around by criminals, to being locked in by fear and knocked down into apathy that some inspector whoever can look you in the eye and tell you that your case ‘doesn’t matter as much’ and that is just the way it is.

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