A force not to be reckoned with! Ms Naledi Chirwa is a living inspiration for women all over our nation. An activist and liberator, actor and a mother, with absolutely no fear, Ms Chirwa is determined to better South Africa and advocate for political and social justice in our nation. Mayibuye!
1. How did you realise that, politics and activism was the route that you wanted to take in your life?
There wasn’t a day when I consciously chose politics. I have only ever chosen advocating for justice, for revolution. Politics is one amongst other tools of ensuring that the objective comes to pass.
2. Being a woman, especially a mother, being an activist comes with its challenges and tribulations. Are there any of those challenges that you’d like to share with our readers?
I think any stream of work comes with peculiar challenges for women. We face similar situations as women in the work space (wage inequality in contrast to our male counterparts being one of the prevailing issues) and being a mother also comes with a double fold suppression. Most mothers are single mothers and yet their workers rights don’t protect them or set them apart. On most days I find myself having to choose between showing up for work or an interview, or for my son. This is a predicament that won’t necessarily be faced by a peer who does not have a child
3. I recently read your powerful tribute to Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who you refer as to a “hero, of a storm, of a volcano, of a hero that lives in all of us. Of a political conscience, of our fighter.” As a woman in politics, I have certainty that she is a great inspiration and anchor of hope. May you please elaborate to our readers what impact uMam’ Winnie has on your life and your political career?
Mama Winnie assisted in creating a model for Black women in politics. She disturbed the fibre of racism and patriarchy and dispossession at the same time. As a mother to her daughters, she sacrificed her livelihood and core identity to further the revolution. She remains a point of reference for strength and inspiration when womaning is suffocating in the spaces I find myself in.
4. The Fees Must Fall Movement reminded South Africans of the class of 1976. Being a student activist is an interesting journey due to lack of support as some parents are usually very reluctant to see their children go through similar challenges that they went through. Did you receive full support from your family or were they a bit sceptical due to your prominence during this movement?
My mother has always been supportive of my journey, be it academic or political. I’ve been involved in student politics since I was 15 serving as the Deputy President of the then Tshwane North College. In fact, on days when I felt like quitting, she was and is my rock. My grandmother was political as well. Activism has always defined the nature of my family and thus my views. Justice is a principle in my family, they support me because of this understanding.
5. Many people are able to find loopholes therefore refusing to support the Fees Must Fall Movement. May you share with our readers why you decided to fight this ongoing battle?
It wasn’t about me. It was about being one with the collective voices of young people in the country. It was about justice. It was about fighting for the dignity of Black children who were dehumanized and ostracized from accessing their basic right because of their skin color and economic condition. Fees Must Fall was the result of the two decade long neglect Black students faced under the facade of democracy. It had to be addressed.
6. #ThisIsMyVagina is a truly remarkable movement, a call and proclaim of our sexuality as women and one my favourite work as a follower of your work. May you share to our readers, what it is about and any challenges you faced during the eruption of this movement?
People and mostly men, don’t believe that women own their bodies. Women get killed and raped and abused because they are seen as objects ready for consumption and exploitation at the gratification of men and the male gaze. This is My Vagina is a response to not only put patriarchy in its place, but to also proclaim to the self and amongst each other as heterosexual and queer women that the bodies we live in belong to us. It is also not exclusive to trans women in any way as having a vagina does not mean owning monopoly of Black womanhood, This is My Vagina is a response to the violence women face for merely being women.
7. What significant role has the EFF played in your rise and your journey?
Having led the EFF Students Command and having worked as the Media and Liaison Officer of the EFF definitely gave me a bigger platform to be a young activist that is heard and listened to when I speak. I’ve also gotten the opportunity to learn in close proximity, the essence of growing an organization and being amongst our people. The EFF, to many young people, is more than a political alternative, it is a school and a home we have found in the revolution. The EFF is where I learned comradeship and unconditional love for Black people and Black women. The EFF is the place where my yearning for justice got moulded and Groomed. In the words of a fighter, “EFF is a school, we are learning.”
8. Congratulations on your growing acting career, I thoroughly enjoy you on my screen! Do you have any new current projects that we should look out for?
Hahaha. Thank you so much. Being on Ring of Lies was definitely a beautiful surprise. I’m still auditioning. Still writing. Still making work. I can’t speak on my current project as of yet as it’s still in the early stages, but #TheGirlWithTheBlueHair is definitely here to stay.
9.Is there any advice you’d like to share for all the young women that are passionate and determined to make a change through politics or any other factors in their lives?