Monday, September 20, 2010

Friends and Sindiwe Magona

(Wednesday, September 15)

I had hoped to meet with Kevin from the museum again today, but had to shift it to Friday, which means I have more time to think of insightful things to say and meaningful questions to ask. It's hard work. I ended up going to Friends, a cute cafe next to the Fruit & Veg, to do some writing. They had a good grilled cheese and tomato sandwich. After sitting there writing steadily for an hour or two one of the servers, a friendly little British woman, approached me.
"Everyone keeps wondering who is this girl, who's just been writing away for hours! We thought you must be writing exams this week, or someone said you must be a journalist, and I said it's a good thing then that I wore my purple blouse today and not an older one!"
She went on and asked the usual questions, to which I gave the usual answers. Then she told me about a gentleman who used to frequent the cafe, who had traveled all around the world and wrote about each place. He had given her a copy of his complete writings, which she now showed to me: hundreds of pages of places, people, conversations and events, all around the world.
"I don't have nearly as much to say as all that."
"Don't worry, you're still young. You still have plenty of time to find things to write about."

In the evening there was a presentation on the author Sindiwe Magona at Wendy's, the book shop that Kathy and Cornelius own. It was given by an English professor from Canada who recently completed her doctorate and currently teaches at UNISA (The University of South Africa). It was a wonderful presentation. Sindiwe was born in a rural village in the Transkei in 1943, and while working as a domestic servant and raising three children on her own, she completed her BA by correspondence, and managed to get a scholarship to Columbia University in New York where she earned her Master's in Social Work. She became a very influential political activist, worked for the United Nations, and then finally began to write, with her first book published in 1990, when she was 47 years old. Her books sound absolutely amazing. They describe the life and struggles of South African women, facing Apartheid, AIDS, poverty, and oppression. I plan to get out and read them as soon as I can. It's really amazing just how much Sindiwe Magona has been able to accomplish in her life, and how much she had to overcome to make it to where she is now.

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