Women in Literature: Webinar by PanSALB

Author: Andiswa Bukula (SADiLaR isiXhosa researcher)

On the 20th of August I had the privilege of attending a virtual seminar that was hosted by Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB).

As a language researcher specializing in one of South Africa’s indigenous languages, isiXhosa, I knew and understood the benefits of such a webinar. The webinar was focused at encouraging and motivating women to continue to write stories in their mother tongue. It is not secret that the use of our indigenous languages is one that is very limited in South Africa. Therefore, a webinar of this calibre not only promotes the importance of writing, but it also promoted the use of our indigenous South African languages.

The opening remarks were by Mrs Preetha Dabideen who is the Deputy Chairperson of the Pan South African Language Board. She took us through the work PanSALB is doing and the importance a webinar of this nature has in enriching women, not just in writing but in general, and how PanSALB aims to continue motivating and supporting women through their different projects and initiatives.

The host of the webinar was none other than the inspiring Ayanda Borotho.

Ayanda is a South African actress and author, she published her memoir in 2019 titled “Unbecoming to Become” that details her journey as a woman and challenging cultural conditioning and social stereotypes. Ayanda is an activist at heart and uses her platform to discuss issues that she is passionate about, which include gender equality and the promotion of mother tongue.

In the panel we were blessed with the presence of authors Dudu Busani-Dube and Angela Makholwa

Dudu is a South African fiction author and a journalist by profession. She made her mark with the three books Hlomu the Wife, Zandile The Resolute and Naledi His Love which appeal to the average female black reader. She has also written her 4th Book ‘Zulu Wedding’ which is a narrative based on a film. While still working as a journalist and covering several high-profile court cases, Dudu went on a journey of self-publishing her series of fiction books Hlomu the Series. She is viewed as a writer for the everyday woman; and her series have gained a huge following. She was also a contributor in two anthologies, Black Tax: Burden or Ubuntu published. Jonathan Ball in 2019 and The Lockdown Collection published my Melinda Ferguson Books in 2020.

Angela is a South African author, the first black writer to write crime fiction in South Africa. She worked as a magazine journalist and public relations consultant for several agencies before establishing her own public relations firm, Britespark Communications, in 2002. She came to the literary scene in 2007 with Red Ink, the first crime fiction by a black author in South Africa. Since then she has published three novels; The 30th Candle (2009). Her third novel, Black Widow Society (2013) and The Blessed Girl (2017).

What PanSALB did with this webinar was nothing short of inspiring. As a budding researcher who is passionate about writing in isiXhosa, in aid of developing the language, I was very inspired to do more for my language especially with the knowledge I have now about the support PanSALB aims to supply for young upcoming researchers and authors like myself. Watch this space, my children’s book written in isiXhosa is coming soon.