We welcome first-time author Kimberly Burge to a very special offsite event at Montclair Presbyterian Church on Sunday November 1st at 4pm. Her new book is "The Born Frees: Writing with the Girls of Gugulethu". She'll be speaking with St. Mary's creative writing teacher Alex Green.
When Kimberly Burge organized a writing group in the township of Gugulethu, South Africa, she discovered a group of extraordinary young women who belonged to the first generation born into a post-apartheid world. Though they were “born free,” 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 Burge quickly learned, the spirit of these girls outshines the often extremely difficult circumstances they share with so many of their peers throughout the world.
The group is made up of girls with wide-ranging personalities and varying levels of education—girls such as the 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—all of whom 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.
Filled with compassion and hope, The Born Frees is a testimony to the necessity of empowering girls, and to the role writing can play in reimagining one’s own life.