6 PM Mountain Time
South African novelist Rozena Maart is an English professor and a practitioner of psychoanalysis. She earned her PhD from the University of Birmingham. In 1987 when she was 24, Maart was nominated for the “Woman of the Year” award hosted in Johannesburg, for her work opposing violence against women and for starting, with four women, the first Black feminist organization in Cape Town, Women Against Repression [W.A.R].
She has been a researcher and writer for the Canadian Panel on Violence against Women. As well, she ‘s won the $10,000 Journey Prize for Best Short Fiction in Canada in 1992, and her writing was selected by the Governor General to be among that of twenty four Canadian writers of African descent whose work is being exhibited across Canada.
Last week Rozena Maart and I spoke in Edmonton about a variety of issues, although she was in town to promote her newest book, the novel The Writing Circle.
Our conversation began very conversationally indeed. In fact, after I turned the recorder on, Ms. Maart didn’t give me much chance to throw in a question for a while, and because I hadn’t formally started, you’ll notice several mms and ahs I wouldn’t ordinarily emit during an interview.
But because her comments were so intriguing, and because she gave me permission, I kept the recording of the informal discussion and now offer it to you. Ironically, I’d originally hoped to showcase Maart’s novel The Writing Circle. But we never actually got around to discussing it nor did I get the chance to record her reading from it. But if you want to win your own autographed copy of the novel, keep reading.
During our conversation, Ms. Maart discussed South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the commission was hailed internationally for promoting national unity following the fall of the country’s racial dictatorship. Maart questions whether the Commission has been exploited to destroy opposition to Neo-Apartheid South Africa, or whether it was designed to do so in the first place. She engages the topic of author and activist Steven Biko. In September 1977, Apartheid police murdered Steven Biko, a Malcolm X-style political and cultural philosopher credited with founding the country’s Black Consciousness Movement. She mentions also the PAC, or Pan-Africanist Congress, the radical rival to the ruling African National Congress. In the opinion of many critics and former allies, the ANC has abandoned its revolutionary heritage in favour of Thatcher-style neo-liberalism, which has meant South Africa’s erosion of social programmes and the selling off of national institutions and resources to robber barons. Finally, Maart debates herself on what to think of Thabo Mbeki, South Africa’s current President who’s been lauded by the West for his neo-liberal policies and denounced for his “see no evil” approach to HIV/AIDS.
Ms. Maart began by discussing her experiences of alienation, as a South African of Khoi San and South Asian descent, inside nearly all-White teaching institutions.
If you’d like to win an autographed copy of The Writing Circle, send me an email with ROZENA MAART in the subject line, and tell me why you'd like a copy.
This Sunday, the Caribbean Fathers’ Interest Group presents a Town Hall Meeting at the Marcus Garvey Centre for Unity. The meeting will discuss how the Caribbean-Canadian community can develop new supports for fathers and families, particularly in order to raise successful sons.
Hercules Grant is one of the organisers. He's an Edmonton physiotherapist with a Master’s Degree addressing chronic pain. He’s put together previous Caribbean fathers’ retreats to address the chronic pain of family disunity. He was also the first chair of the board of Edmonton’s Marcus Garvey Centre.
WHERE: Marcus Garvey Centre for Unity, 125th Street and 126th Avenue
WHEN: Sunday, Nov. 18, 3 pm
FMI: Email address to contact Hercules Grant
Labels: Caribbean Fathers' Interest Group, Hercules Grant, Marcus Garvey Centre for Unity, Neo-Apartheid, Rozena Maart, The Writing Circle