On our Lists this week: Bessie Head, the Randlords, and The Golden Girls
THE READING LIST
Bessie Head: Thunder Behind Her Ears by Gillian Stead Eilersen (Wits University Press): A colleague lent me this book months ago and during a particularly satisfying belt of the word “Bravoooo” from Edith Piaf’s Bravo Pour Le Clown in my lounge, I looked over my shoulder to my bookshelf and saw Bessie’s face on the cover of Gillian Stead Eilersen’s biography of her and picked it up. The parallels between Bessie Amelia Emery’s birth story and author Sara-Jayne King, who wrote Killing Karoline (Danielle Bowler reviews this book on page eight), are chilling and uncanny.
They expose the human cost of the Immorality Act in South Africa but also reveal the weight of the stigma of a mixed child on the constructed stainless image of white motherhood in apartheid South Africa.
I’m nearly halfway through the book and following the trajectory of a life rejected but ultimately, visible. (MB)
Art & Aspirations: The Randlords of South Africa and Their Collections by Michael Stevenson (Fernwood Press): Guys! Come through, it’s lit. I thought I knew enough to just get by but then I realised that I’ve been living under several rocks after reading this book. For his thesis, gallerist Michael Stevenson studied a group of people from modest backgrounds who got rich from mining in Kimberley, the Randlords. To assert their wealth and attempt to fit in, the Randlords spent money on art to build large collections. In this book, Stevenson transforms his thesis into what almost reads like a vintage episode of Days of Our Lives. It’s dramatic, deeply informative and has added a valuable layer to my understanding of the artistic landscape. (ZH)
THE PLAY LIST
The Golden Girls: I was too young to appreciate the brilliance of what I feel is the model that inspired Sex and the City, Living Single and Girlfriends to make 1990s TV the riot that it was. Totally ahead of its time, utterly hilarious and as politically conscious as a show could be for 1985, I really, really love this show. Obviously Sophia is my favourite but I have found myself walking around the house talking in my best Blanche Devereaux accent and roaring with laughter in front of the mirror. (MB)
The Lists are compiled by Milisuthando Bongela, Kwanele Sosibo, and Zaza Hlalethwa