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Short Sharp Stories

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Die Laughing Teaser: Q&A with Andile Cele

Andile CeleAndile Cele is the eldest of four children. She was born and raised in KwaZulu-Natal on Karibu Farm where her mother was a domestic worker. Andile’s mother would bring newspapers and books home from work for Andile to read, and this enticed her to pursue a career in writing.

She has a journalism degree from the Tshwane University of Technology and is currently enrolled, part-time, for a BA in Creative Writing with the University of South Africa. She works as a Web Content Editor and Social Media curator. She currently lives in Pretoria, where she enjoys attending poetry events and recites her work for her peers.

 

 

 

 

 

Your DIE LAUGHING story is a hard-hitting piece which comments on politics, particularly on the non-delivery of promises.  What inspired your story?

Thank you. So the story was inspired by a series of events; one event includes me, one day walking with my friend’s five-year-old son down Church Street just after the Fees Must Fall protests. He had so much to say about it, without having been asked to even comment on the issue. I had to correct him, in places where I felt he was wrong, but he was quite adamant that he was right. He showed me the stones that had barricaded the street and asked me, “Is this right Andy!?” I tried to explain what the protests were about but my explanations were futile.

I realised that even kids are awake to current affairs/issues and I figured it would be great to weave different generations in a story that poked fun at our political landscape. I’ve also seen how excited people get when there’s a debate in parliament, everyone has something to say.

 

Mkhulu and Gogo sit in their lounge area watching TV, and commenting on a parliamentary speech made by ‘The Chief’. How did these characters come to you? The zol-smoking Gogo and Mkhulu who is losing his mind?

I seriously don’t know how these two came to life, I started writing and Gogo picked up a joint and Mkhulu was sitting there thinking he was the smartest person to ever grace South Africa. And from there, the story took form and shape.

 

Your narrator, Sisi, keeps a cool head as she listens to their crazy conversation. As for the little sister Ziyanda, she’s not afraid to express her opinion! Are the youth of SA more politically tolerant than in the past?

Mediums such as social media platforms have created easier access for young people to engage in politics on a daily basis. We have a parliamentary member nicknamed ‘the people’s bae’ as he is under thirty-five-years-old. So there is this interest in politics by young people, and it is considered cool to know about the latest Bill. Or to sit and listen to a parliamentary debate, so that you can have something to say on social media like everybody else.

 

Your story covers serious stuff.  Are families suffering poverty more and more immune to the difficulties of life?

I don’t think you can ever be immune to difficulties, but I think you can learn to live and be strong within those difficulties.

 

It is revealed too, that a family member is in jail for rape, which is brought into the conversation in a matter-of-fact way. Why did you bring this into the story?

I honestly tried not to tap into the morbidity of things but this family was way too real to not include the social epidemic that is rape. And that in some way we are all affected by it, and ‘normal’ families such as these are burdened by it.     

 

Sisi sees the frustration of her grandparents and understands that they fantasized about having a different life. Does this story reflect your own politics?

Oh yes, it is in some way allegorical. It is something I saw growing up; I’ve always heard my mom talk about how she wanted to be a teacher but her family was quite impoverished, or how she wanted to get married or live in a big house, you know. None of those things happened for her; I grew up seeing the anxiety in her. We also grew up at the backyard of someone’s house; we never had a house of our own until probably a few years ago.

So in terms of the grandparents’ mental state, of wanting a house of their own, I am imprinted in that story. Also of Sisi, there is a bit of myself in her; because I also engage in debates with my uncles about politics and even patriarchy.  So I really wanted to take into account our realities, our fears, our hopes and our dreams.

 

What in general to you think about South African humour?

A year ago I read a short story titled ‘A Joburg Story,’ by South African writer Darrel Bristow-Bovey, it was the funniest thing I had read in a while; it was authentically Mzansi.

 

Do we need to step back and laugh at ourselves a bit more?

Absolutely! I think it is one of the best ways to look at things and situations more honestly.

 

As a student of creative writing, do you enjoy writing short stories?

When I first enrolled for the degree, I wanted to improve my poetry writing but I found myself loving short stories. I loved the way Can Themba narrated and described his characters; I loved the honesty in E’skia Mphahlele’s narratives. I enjoy short stories now, I love the intense ease to them and that they leave you wanting more. It is fascinating.

 

Do you find it helpful to be doing a course and would you recommend writing courses to aspiring writers?

It is extremely helpful; you get to engage with different types of texts that help expand your creativity. Sure, you can easily go to a library and do it on your own. But I believe the continuous feedback from lecturers, writing and rewriting essays, engaging in different themes for poetry, narrative and drama helps you become a better reader, a better writer and a better critic. I would recommend it.

 

Tell us a little bit about your blog and the subjects you cover.

My blog is simple (with room for improvement of course); sometimes I post poems, quotes and any subjects that inspire me. Soon I’ll be profiling some historical places in Pretoria.

 

Read Andile’s blog here or follow Andile on twitter here .

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 9.00.45 AMBook Details:
Editor Joanne Hichens
Foreword Evita Bezuidenhout
ISBN / EAN 9780994680518
Publication date July 2016
Buy the book here!

 

 

 

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