Sharing South African Literature – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Sharing South African Literature

South African Literature is making its way to Seneca Falls thanks to Thelma Pinto, assistant professor of Africana studies. On March 3 at 7 p.m., Pinto will offer her expertise to the surrounding community by giving a lecture in the “Everybody in Seneca Falls Reads 2009” at the Seneca Falls Library. Her talk will focus on women’s narratives during and after the Apartheid in South Africa.

“In the history of South Africa, the two groups that are most often left out are black South Africans and women. However, women were doing a lot of writing, from fiction to poetry to plays. Despite their active writing, women’s narratives are still not being heard. In rewriting and re-visioning South African history, these narratives are crucial,” Pinto said.

As a scholar, Pinto has spent years studying and publishing on these narratives. “Right now, I’m working on a paper on cosmopolitanism and South African Women’s Literature,” she said. “I’m working with a colleague from Japan on a book focused on South African literature.”

Lending her expertise to eager readers in Seneca Falls, Pinto will delve deeper into these narratives when she delivers this second of two lectures. At the talk, Pinto will offer her insights of Post-Apartheid South Africa based on Rayda Jacobs’ “Confessions of a Gambler.”

“This novel is the first book to write about the Muslim community in Cape Town from a woman’s perspective,” Pinto explained. “It’s an important book in the context of where Muslims and Muslim women are because it provides an insider’s insights on the topic. It’s also a good point of comparison for Muslim literature world-wide.”

“I look forward to talking about the book for its perspective as well as the many taboos that it addresses, from AIDS to the social roles of men and women in Muslim society,” Pinto said. “I love literature. And it’s nice to be talking about this topic with people without a background in South Africa or literature.”

Pinto’s talk is funded in part by the NYS Council on the Arts Decentralization Program. To find out more about the events at the Seneca Falls Library, click here.

Joining the faculty in 2003, Pinto holds a doctoral degree from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She is the African Literature Association’s 2008 past president, 2007 president and 2006 vice president. In addition to her role in the Africana Studies Department, she is also the past director of the Self Instructional Language Program. Recently, Pinto published “South African Women: Narratives of Struggle and Exile” as a chapter in Women and Globalization by Delia D. Aguilar and Anne E. Lacsamana.

Pinto is an Editorial Board Member for the Third Speaker Series, which translated 150 books of African, Asian and Latin American writers into Dutch, including three poetry anthologies. She spent 27 years exiled in the Netherlands during the Apartheid of South Africa. During the year and a half that she lived in Zimbabwe in the 1980s, she  directed The Melfort Women’s Educational Centre and established an educational program for ex-combatant Zimbabwean women.