Kimberly Burge, author of The Born Frees: Writing With the Girls of Gugulethu will discuss her book at Mac's on Thursday, March 17th at 7 p.m..
Born into post-apartheid South Africa, the young women of the townships around Cape Town still face daunting challenges. Their families and communities have been ravaged by poverty, violence, sexual abuse, and AIDS. Yet, as Kimberly Burge discovered when she set up a writing group in the township of Gugulethu, the spirit of these girls outshines their circumstances.
Girls such as irrepressible Annasuena, whose late mother was one of South Africa's most celebrated singers; bubbly Sharon, already career-bound; and shy Ntombi, determined to finish high school and pursue further studies, find reassurance and courage in writing. Together they also find temporary escape from the travails of their lives, anxieties beyond boyfriends and futures: for some of them, worries that include HIV medication regimens, conflicts with indifferent guardians, struggles with depression.
Driven by a desire to claim their own voices and define themselves, their writing in the group Amazw Entombi, Voices of the Girls, provides a lodestar for what freedom might mean.
Kimberly Burge is a narrative journalist, a longtime activist, and a Fulbright Scholar to South Africa. A contributing writer for Sojourners magazine, she previously worked for twelve years at Bread for the World, a Washington-based advocacy organization combatting hunger and poverty in the United States and worldwide.