Thanks for making space to talk about your work as a co-author in this creative interview series.
Let's start this author interview.
What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?
Just start. Read other people’s work, mostly authors that inspire you. But also read authors that challenge what you believe.
What made you decide to become one of the ten co-authors of ‘The South African Book of Affirmations’?
I think it is because I really believe in positive words. In South Africa, most children do not hear positive things about themselves or even their country. All that feeds into a sense of inadequacy. So, my interest in the book really was about that positive message. For me, the language aspect was probably secondary to the message of the book. And even the choice of using all 11 languages felt purposeful, in that division is the hallmark of South African history, and the book does something special by having these different languages in one place.
What were your letters in the book? What language did you author the book in?
A, L, and T
How did it feel to be a part of the community writing ‘The South African Book of Affirmations’ and writing for kids in your home language?
It was challenging to write with such a big group. There was so much communication needed to make the project work. I sympathized with the coordinators of the project. At the same time, it was really fun. Seeing the things that the other ladies came up with was just inspirational.
Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
I love how the book introduces the kids to different South African languages. Hopefully, the book reaches kids in communities where books are scarce because that is where I think this book is needed the most.
What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
For children who read the book, I hope they see possibilities and their interest is piqued to want to know more of another culture and another language in their country.
Who is your favorite author and why?
I do not know if I have a favourite per se; I love to read different things from different authors. But I will say Elif Shafak. I really love her meditations on place, identity, and what it means to be human, particularly when one does not fit into society. I also enjoy reading Abdulrazak Gurnah. I also enjoy Tim Keller’s books, I love how he deals with issues of faith in ways that are understanding, and sympathetic while also orthodox.
What book is currently on your bedside table?
Two books. Tim Keller Reason for God and The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller. I just finished My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh, which I thoroughly loved.
What is your favorite quote or African proverb?
Mana a mutuka asi vhu matshelo hawe- a Tshivenda proverb which literally translates to “A boy’s cracked/flaky feet is not his future,” so where you start is not so important. It is important what you do with what you have. I love that because it is so hopeful.
If you were a South African tour guide, what would you like a visitor to see, and what impression would you want them to take away with them when they leave?
I am from Limpopo, and I think it is one of the most underrated destinations. I would love a tourist to experience the peace and tranquility of being in Limpopo. The people will treat you with humanity. It does not matter where you are coming from. There is something about the cultures in this part of South Africa that is not consumeristic or capitalistic, a way of life that is disappearing in most parts of South Africa where human interactions are transactional. So I love that about Limpopo. One can experience the untouched nature in so many parts of the province and learn about cultures not as well known.
Are you working on anything else?
Most of my writing is in academic space. So I am working on a few academic publication. One looking at decolonial practice in research. It is exciting.
How can people stay connected with you and informed about any future projects you are working on?
I am on Twitter @Amisimatodzi and Linkedin.
Interested in getting a copy of The South African Alphabet of Affirmations?
More Proverbs by the authors of The South African Alphabet of Affirmations