We spoke to award-winning journalist, Iman Rappetti ahead of the launch of her highly-anticipated memoir

Award-winning journalist Iman Rappetti has recently release her memoir, Becoming Iman.
Award-winning journalist Iman Rappetti has recently release her memoir, Becoming Iman.

For some she’s known as the host of PowerTalk on Power FM weekdays from 9 – 12pm. For others she’s all that and so much more. We remember her years as eNCA's prime time face and fave. And with her experience in a wide range of media, Iman can finally add author to that list.

In a press release that Pan Macmillan released back in August 2017 when they first announced that they’d be publishing her memoir, she said:

‘To have the extraordinary opportunity to become an actual author is something I’ve only ever dreamed of. My fourteen-year-old self is dancing and shaking with excitement. Finally, the musings, writings that were either stored in a shoebox under my bed or were simply invisible words that made up my childhood thoughts, get to have clothing and get to come to life.’

Iman’s experience includes covering in-depth and complex political issues, while giving a platform to marginalised communities in order to uplift them and to tell their stories.

She’s worked on stories that have spanned across the globe and has traversed difficult narratives with the aim of holding people accountable and encouraging open-mindedness amongst the people of South Africa.

We sat down to ask her a few questions about her memoir, Becoming Iman.

1. What has been the hardest thing you’ve ever had to endure?

I’m going to pick from my hit list. Some of the earliest and the hardest will obviously be my father dying and I write about it in the book.

More recently it was an accident scene that I saw during the holiday and I got the news that the little girl died two days. I was hoping she survived. That was pretty hard to hear.

2. Your memoir captures everything from growing up during apartheid South Africa to talking about your father’s expulsion from his family right up until experiencing motherhood for the first time. There’s a wealth of emotions contained in your memoir – which parts were the most difficult, but most cathartic to write?

I suppose every piece of yourself that you go back to - which are sources or epicentres of pain - are always hard to write about, but you can’t set them up side by side and say you know this was what because we experience them so literally in different ways.

Like each experience kind of removes another layer creates or another layer of yourself. Pain is a very subjective thing, it depends on individuals.

When you go through it as a human you just realise how complex things are: joy, pain, loss and gain, you know?

You talked about the cathartic – I think being able to come out on the other side with most of your sanity intact, like that is kind of proof of being human; proof of our elasticity as human beings.

3.  One thing that struck me in your book is that you mention that under the sky of freedom, many people of colour still carry the “pathology of the past.” Do you feel that writing this book is a letter of love and reassurance?

I am hoping that there is an invitation to go back to one’s self in this book in some of the anecdotes and stories and to kind of look at how damaged we’ve been by the kind of system we live under - a system which made us not love ourselves and made us not see ourselves as presenting attributes of beauty or things that are praise worthy unless you looked white.

This book is about accepting the immense ways you can be beautiful and a way to kind of take back that which has been so damaged and destroyed in ourselves.

4.  Why did you decide to write this memoir now?

I don’t know, I’ve been too busy being a journalist, I think.

I suppose every writer deals with the angst of, why do I feel that I have something to say. Why do I feel like my story deserves to be put down in a book somewhere?

I think it’s just a natural progression being stuck together, in a way it is now the time. Your heart feels full and out of the abundance you speak.

5.  What one thing in the book do you think will surprise people who have followed your career?

Number one, it is not about my career per se. Number two is we - I think - people have certain ideas and notions of each other.

When you tell a story about yourself which is about your many dimensions some people might come away with a changed view. It might be a change of view that is negative or positive. I don’t know. It all depends on their interpretation.

 6. Any advice you’d like to share with other women who want to write a book?

Just do it. We’ve allowed other people to curate our sense of being. To subtly determine what we think can and cannot do.

Every story is a story worth sharing. Just do it. Even now I’m terrified that this book is out there. I’m like ‘oh God what if it changes how people think about me or maybe what if it shortfalls other people’s expectations.

I couldn’t be paralysed by other people’s expectations. We all have to fly - birds fly in their own way they don’t borrow wings. You can’t borrow each other’s wings, you can fly because we were made to fly.

I hope this not the end of the adventure.

Becoming Iman will be available from all leading book stores as of 1st of May. Stay tuned for a forthcoming excerpt from the book.

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