Community monitors from the Benchmarks Foundation (BF) attended the Jozi Book fair on 3 September 2017. Mmathapelo Thobajane represented the women in action in the monitoring school. She talked about our writing, the use of newsletters, the challenge of writing and expressing oneself and the importance of women activists writing and participating in the struggle. She was supported by Ole, Susan, Lorraine, other monitors and BF staff. Lorraine’s role in the team was to give support during questions from the floor, together with her colleagues.
Amongst the questions raised was: what does it feels like to be a woman activist; what kind of stories do we write, who supports us in producing these writings, who is our target audience, who reads and where do we distribute our writings to? The book fair was useful because participants learnt the importance of telling their stories though writing and making sure that it reaches far places.
It was a good way of promoting the way we feel about what we write about and also gave us ideas for fund raising. For communities to determine their own destiny they need to understand the need to develop knowledge about the things that they can change and cannot change; and not to rely on NGOs.
We must recognise the agency that we have. If we are to affect the whole country, we need to find ways to focus on both national and local questions. We also need to document struggles as a way of contributing to social change.
This article was published and first appeared on www.CommunityMonitors.net, on 11 September 2017.