Linathi Makanda is a writer and artist who grew up in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.
At the age of 26, she is the author of the poetry collections When No One Is Watching and I Say These Things To Myself, containing verses that delve deep into the human experience.
Her poetry has been featured in publications such as Poetry Potion, Lolwe and 20.35 Africa, solidifying her status in the world of literature.
She was asked to participate in the Black Girl Hockey Club Book Club’s post-reading discussion to unpack some views in her first book.
“What made this experience my most rewarding was how this body of work seemed to unite women of various ages, races and locations.” Beyond her individual achievements, Linathi has had an influence on aspiring writers and artists, and particularly women of colour.
Through her success as a writer and artist, Linathi has become an inspiration to many, helping to break down barriers and enriching people’s lives.
“I may make things for fun, but my words are my medicine in whatever I do, and that transcends fame and money. It motivates me to create from a place of sustainability, where my thoughts and stories can have an impact that extends beyond me and my time,” Linathi says.
Her most valuable lesson was discovering that the most compelling stories are often in places that appear to be inconsequential. “These locations and people have a richness to them, and it’s intriguing to think about what we may learn from them.”
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
“If you don’t take yourself seriously, no one ever will.”
Our theme this year is Accelerating Equality & Empowerment in Women. How do you empower yourself and women around you?
By teaching myself and other women to step into the fear and create something expansive. I believe it is in our nature as women to make the most of what we have and I reflect on this frequently. How can we use what has frequently been moulded against us in society as our most inner power? This is particularly pertinent to the topics of emotional well-being and mindfulness. We are told that our intuitive natures and messages from our emotional centres are not reliable or valuable in the grand scheme of society, yet in my work, I find that women want to shift the world from that exact place, so how do we create a vehicle through this work to assist them in doing so? Storytelling is crucial because it involves memory, and psychologically, that is exactly where the undoing must occur, therefore, that is where my work and my stories aim to reach.
If you could change or achieve one thing for South Africa today, what would it be?
Creativity is a lifeline and, as an individual from Eastern Cape, a province often considered to be disadvantaged, I would welcome the opportunity to provide more creative outlets to young girls and women in rural areas. Many of these individuals are incredibly talented; all they need to do is listen and be given the opportunity to put what they hear into action.