Blogger 'A Read Black Girl' on why she started her page and the authors we should be reading

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held the position of chairperson of the Literacy Association of South Africa's Gauteng chapter.
held the position of chairperson of the Literacy Association of South Africa's Gauteng chapter.
Tumelo Motaung /Instagram

DRUM chats to Tumelo Motaung about her blogs and what she's currently reading. 

@areadblackgirl

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a spiritually inclined sapiosexial emapth. An avid reader with an insatiable appetite for learning, who aspires to a simple life. I’m a mother to two boys, a freelance editor, and work as an administrator at the University of South Africa (Unisa). I’m studying towards a BA degree in theory of literature and African languages at Unisa, as well as journalism with the Wits Journalism school.

 

What can followers expect from you?

I started the blog A Read Black Girl on Facebook as a result of wanting people on my social media to engage in the literature I was exploring. I’m introverted, and found that reading was at times a lonely process. I had just given birth to my youngest son and couldn’t visit book clubs any longer.

What I started doing is sharing pieces of the books and articles I was reading that had moved me. These give the reader an idea of the book, and in turn sparks interest in the narrative.

Feedback I've received from the page ranges from how the snippets have made readers go out and buy the book, how they’ve started reading again after long pauses, and how the pieces shared have changed their perceptions.

In the previous year I held the position of chairperson of the Literacy Association of South Africa's Gauteng chapter, and that experience amplified my commitment to an access to literacy for personal development. I see the Facebook page as a way of giving people something interesting to read and think about as they scroll down their phones.

I also review some of the books I read on my WordPress blog and Goodreads accounts as a way of archiving my experience and sharing them with the wider book community.

What Ngozi (an author friend of mine from Gaborone, Botswana) and I have recently started doing is hosting co-reading experiences on social media. The first took place in March and April this year, reading Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery by bell hooks on Facebook Live, and have gone on to read All About Love: New Visions – also by bell hooks – on Instagram Live. These conversations are aimed at unpacking the ideas in the books as a collective while also cementing these with personal and shared experience.

While the co-reading experience focuses on feminist literature, my interests also lie in African philosophy, African history, historical fiction and just about anything on African spirituality. I am, however, an erratic reader; I read just about anything that tickles my fancy. I don’t believe in confining myself to a set genre and often pick up books based on subjects I’m currently intrigued by.

 

Tell us about a recent book you loved – and why?

I enjoyed Akwaeke Emezi's Freshwater – which I read at the beginning of this year – a great deal. The book, which is somewhat autobiographical, explores aspects of living as what is referred to as “obanje” in Igbo culture - existing with multiple spirits inhibiting your body. Having read Ben Okri's The Famished Road, Helen Oyeyemi’s The Icarus Girl, Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch and Who Fears Death, Credo Mutwa’s Indaba My Children, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi's Kintu, and Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone, I found Freshwater to be the first to encompass my experiences as a spirit child into a single narrative.

As someone who was raised in a Christian family and grew to be invested in African spirituality I pay close attention to the effects of colonial epistemic violence on my community and because some of the things we experience are no longer spoken about I try to find answers in the experiences and understanding of others. The issue of hosting a multitude in the same body, and how each affects different aspects of your personality, is documented with extreme attention in this book.

 

KARABO HIINE (@spinesandtitles)

Tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Karabo Hiine. I’m a Johannesburg-based full-time book reader and part-time lawyer. My love for reading was inspired by my grandmother, who often took me to the local library to lend books for the month.

 

What can followers expect from you?

I’m a big fan of African literature. I’m an even bigger fan of black feminist literature. I have decided to be more intentional about the books I read and so followers should expect more black feminist literature, queer literature, pro-black and anti-racist literature. Literature that speaks to who I am.

There’s so much I don’t know and there’s so much more to learn, so I’m looking forward to engaging with Bookstagrammers and book lovers on these genres.

I usually post my monthly TBR (to be read) list, but that adds unnecessary pressure to the joy of reading. My bookstagram profile says I am “endorsing the love for literature and a glazzof”, so I’ll definitely continue sharing my favourite drinks, sometimes smoothies sometimes wine, all while enjoying my favourite jazz tunes.

 

Tell us about a recent book you loved – and why?

It’s incredibly difficult to just pick one. A recent book I read and find worth recommending is Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga. I enjoyed the female-centred narrative and how critical it was of the patriarchal order of life. It is certainly one of those books I wish I had read when I was much younger but I now appreciate that, the older I grow and understand what it means to be black and female, my responsibility to centre my reading on who I am and who I aspire to be grows with me.

 

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