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February 9, 2010
Delta Milayo Ndou
I am a wordsmith. For as long as I can remember I have had the uncanny ability to pour the feelings and experiences of others into the malleable form we call words. I am a VOICE – one of those who refuse to be gagged by the traditions that tell me that my womanhood obscures my humanity.
Mine is a literature of deconstruction. I am preoccupied by the need to challenge the status quo, to de-construct the stereotypes and the myths about what womanhood entails, particularly in patriarchal Africa.
My literature is a woman’s interpretation of the world, and it is a human being’s critique of the beliefs and traditions that relegate one set of human beings to inferiority on the basis of their anatomy.
In a world where a woman’s voice is considered irrelevant – I choose to use words to break the silence.
So like the ironsmith wields the anvil – I too, wield words to break the chains of ideologies that enslave women and deprive them of the space to shape their own destinies, to have a say in matters that affect their lives and especially to forge their own identity; to define on their own terms – what womanhood entails.
So I write because I have failed to buy into the myth that an African woman’s silence is a sign of virtue and not cowardice.
I write because I refuse to be counted among so many of my sisterhood – those born with mouths wide open and lips sealed shut!
I write because my anatomy can not bind me, define me, confine me, restrain me or limit me…
To introduce myself in the conventional manner, perhaps a menu of the tags I’ve worn all my life will suffice and if that is not enough perhaps a catalogue of all of the labels I have picked up as I passed through the varying seasons and phases of life.
Who am I?
I am a member of the human species, an African by race, a Zimbabwean by nationality, black (perhaps brown is more accurate) by color, a woman by sex, a Venda by tribe, a Christian by religion, a feminist by choice, a journalist by profession, a writer by design and an activist by default.
And I have answered to the name Delta Law Milayo Ndou for a quarter of a century now and will do so all my days.