Encounters with Vintage

Encounters with Vintage

The success of the Association lies in how it advances community

This week we encounter a Vintage Fellow who studied a Bachelor of Accounting at Rhodes and eight years later completed her Masters in Publishing Studies at Wits. She spends most of her time studying astrology and tarot. Let’s get to know former Association President, Mbali Sikakana, from the graduating class of 2010.

What do you do besides living and why do you do it?

I spend a lot of time reading first-hand accounts in the form of memoir and autobiography about the human cost on individual lives that colonialism and apartheid wrought. At the moment I am reading Miriam Makeba in conversation with Nomsa Nwamuka. Right from the first page, you learn that Miriam’s mother’s name was Nomkomendelo. Why? Because the day she was born, her father was commandeered into the British army during the Anglo-Boer War.

What’s the climax of your story so far?

Being able to steer the bulky ship that is my life in another direction before I was too afraid to command the nerve. Of course I did articles and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2012. I then worked in financial services – specifically short-term insurance – for some years. Somewhere in there I managed to fit in a 4-month stint at the now infamous Trillian Capital Partners, a story for another day, before going back to school full-time for my masters. I now work in trade publishing at the largest independent publisher in South Africa.

Writing is an opportunity to engage with the other.

  • How did you feel when your short story was published?

Well, I write regularly for the Johannesburg Review of Books so I didn’t expect it to feel much different than how I felt about my previous pieces being published. Surprisingly, I felt relief. Enough people had voiced an interest in my ‘fiction’ voice and I felt that now they had a reference point for that that left me free to continue to pursue it on my own terms. Now they know my perspective and style which is really what people are curious about ultimately.

  • In Intimates, what other were you engaging with and what other do you hope to engage with in your writing?

In Intimates, I engage a rejection of capitalist modes of value, the human impulse to gamble irrationally as a means of escaping this value system and the conflict between the individual and the family, amongst other things.

If you could have tea with a literary great, which tea/coffee would you have and what would you ask them?

My answer to this is always Toni Morrison. I would ask her if she thinks ancestral memory forms a significant part of her creative process, over and above the meticulous historical research she does.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Like Beyonce, I want to be happy.

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