Why Kagiso Lesego Molope's books reflect her South African heritage
This interview originally aired on Feb. 4, 2019.
Ottawa-based author Kagiso Lesego Molope was raised in South Africa and her experience living in the post-apartheid era of the country informs her work as a novelist. Her latest, Such a Lonely, Lovely Road, is the love story of Kabelo and Sediba, two black men coming of age in South Africa in the 1980s.
In October 2019, Such a Lonely, Lovely Road won the Ottawa Book Award for English fiction and the inaugural Pius Adesanmi Memorial Award for excellence in African writing.
"In South Africa, we've lived in such a divided country that we don't have much information about each other. There are things people were taught in schools about who 'the other' is. A lot of people have never been to a township — where I am from — and all they know about the township was stories they heard in the news or were taught in school.
In South Africa, we've lived in such a divided country that we don't have much information about each other.- Kagiso Lesego Molope
"There are a lot of assumptions that come out from not knowing each other and not interacting with each other."
"When I started writing, publishers in South Africa were hesitant to publish writers who wrote about apartheid. But it was important for me to state that I'm a post-apartheid writer. It is what I am writing about at this time. I was not going to leave those experiences out of my work."
Remember the past
"There is definitely a culture of forgetting in South Africa. It's almost as if everything wrong with the country started post-apartheid — started in 1994 — which is not true.
There is definitely a culture of forgetting in South Africa.- Kagiso Lesego Molope
"I feel very strongly that we are the ones to tell the stories of that period. If we don't tell them, they will be lost."
Kagiso Lesego Molope's comments have been edited for length and clarity.