I sensed that China offered something different, something new, something beautiful: a year of study in China

In 2016 I was one of four Africans selected to attend the first master’s programme in China Studies at the prestigious Yenching Academy of Peking University. My reflections on a year of new experiences and lasting impressions.Alice Fong and Sihle Nontshokweni at Sichuan OperaAlice Fang and Sihle Nontshokweni at Sichuan Opera.

This article was first published on IAPO

Of all the places in the world, why move to China?”

Continue reading “I sensed that China offered something different, something new, something beautiful: a year of study in China”

The cousin you never call (Pt1)

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Growing up, Siki’s mother (Zolelwa) lived with makhulu (Her mother’s sister). Makhulus lineage was the blessed one, not Zolelwas’ mothers’ line. From makhulus’ waist emerged the brightest minds. Teachers, nurses, school principles, community leaders and clerks. Her children were of the few who managed to complete form 5 and later on move out of the village, not to toil underground in the mines of eGoli. They moved further – attended night schools – could recite stanzas from Sonnet 116 –  became teachers in small towns – married young – bore and or raised children immediately. All in sequence.

Though Zolelwa (Siki’s mother) was in the same age range as makhulus’ first set of grandchildren they were always destined to have a different future to hers. Though they splintered from one trunk, born of the same seed, awakened by the same rhythmic beat that drummed when their clan names were loudly proclaimed, tangled in blood, knotted in the connectedness of their last names… even so, it was clear that she and they would branch out differently. Continue reading “The cousin you never call (Pt1)”

Footbinding: Letter to my daughter

~Allow me to break your feet.

I promise

You will be beautiful~

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© Jo Farrell

Universally, women have been familiar with “taboos, constraints, and exclusionary” practices. Her body, her sexuality and her reproductive role as a mother in society have commonly been at the center of these taboos.

 

Judith Butler’s Gender Constitution essay parallels the idea of being a woman to an act. She makes use of Beauvoir’s claim that

“one is not born, but rather, becomes a woman.”

This is the idea that a woman is compelled to conform her body to a historical idea of “woman” so that the body becomes a stage that materializes this limited understanding of her. She, being a cultural representation in the play. The actor (woman) role plays this idea repeatedly, beat by beat until the sight of womanhood submits to a uniform understanding of her gender.

© Donna Jo Napoli
© Donna Jo Napoli

This explanation fosters the idea that the repetitive re-enactment of scenes carves out the cultural signs that create meanings for womanhood. Foot-binding is a symbol of these repeated scenes. Continue reading “Footbinding: Letter to my daughter”

Azania we will never be the Same

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‪‎Barricades of land we call universities.

Devoid of the history of the soil.

The only place where culture exists

is in unrecognizable material,

Cherried on African studies curricula.

Continue reading “Azania we will never be the Same”