Buy Pregs Govender’s Love and Courage
I generally don’t like to do reviews on this site or anywhere else. There are various reasons for this. First, they take too long and then you get asked to do more and more of these. Secondly, they put pressure on you to think a certain way while you read the book. So, I steer clear of them most of the time and only agree to write one if it applies to a book that I would want to read anyway — or one by a writer whose work I simply love. Third, I have so many writing commitments at any given time that it seems as though cutting down on reviews is a guaranteed time-saver.
At the same time, as a writer I know that it’s wonderful to know that you are read, but even more affirming to see what people say about your work — even when they don’t particularly like what you have to say.
Nonetheless, this is not a real review, just excited blogging about a book I love written by a brilliant and daring woman.
I went to Pregs Govender’s book launch straight after opening “Face Her”, the exhibition in Newtown for this year’s South African women’s month. Needless to say I missed the bulk of the speeches and proceedings for the evening. But I did get a book and managed to have the author sign it.
I then proceeded to spend the ENTIRE day on Women’s Day — save for the SABCAfrica appearance — in bed with Govender’s fantastic book. I literally could not put it down. Each time I needed to get up for food or drink, I had to tear myself away.
I have to admit that I am a long-time fan and avid reader of the work of the fiya feminist Pregs Govender. Her memoir does not disappoint, even though I opened it with very high expectations that she would deliver in her usual style.
Govender writes her memoir, love and courage: a story of insubordination, in six parts (Life, Politics, Power, Choices, The Arms Deal, No HIV/AIDS) in attempt to frame episodes in a life that cannot be compartmentalised. It is a touching narrative of a principled life lived as an activist through different eras in our country’s past: apartheid, transition, post-apartheid, etc. Govender’s elegant prose seems to hug her reader to the page, so that she may not turn away even when the material under discussion is as difficult as Govender staring death in the face.
That phrase about staring death in the face takes on a variety of meanings in love and courage since it encompasses the dangers activists faced under apartheid from a hostile and brutal state, going into hostile territory as a unionist, facing hostile principals and other officials of the apartheid education state as a progressive teacher, escaping attempts to have her killed by others she considered comrades, and taking principled stands on HIV/AIDS and the infamous SA arms deal. Through all of these triumphs, she emerges scathed but affirmed by her ability to stand up for what she believes in no matter who she has to stand up to and against.
This book is an amazing example of what it means for the personal and political to be lived as the same thing in both private life and public activism. I know that it is a book I will return to, to read again and again.
Posted on 15 August 2007, in Uncategorized and tagged African Women, anti-apartheid struggle, Black people, Black women, Black women writers, South Africa, South African literature. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.