Thandie Magwaza uses writing as an intimate confessional and a place for healing - Photography by  - Ray Manzana
Photography by Ray Manzana

Thandie Magwaza uses writing as an intimate confessional and a place for healing

Thandie Magwaza has been writing since the age of nine, using this art form as a way to confront and transcend their circumstances. Writing has become a powerful tool to cultivate wellbeing, to tell stories and to live a life with a stronger sense of self. I had the opportunity to interview the Joburg based writer on their history as a writer and what the future holds.

So you wrote a book; Love in a lighthouse? What is it about? 

Love in a Lighthouse is an explorative anthology co-written with Jade Novelist. The book is journeyed through the story of a doctor recalling a wreckage at sea. It deals with romance, tribulations and survival. In this instance the lighthouse can serve as a metaphor for a variety of things—overcoming challenges, guidance and navigation.

When did you start writing and what propelled you to start writing? 

I grew up in an abusive household, often having to fall asleep to sounds of my mother pleading with her abuser (and second husband), I lost my father at an early age —all of these led to a struggle with substance abuse and chronic depression. The page became my confessional; by the age of nine I had already written my first short story…. eleven years later I am still writing.

Right now, who would you say you are writing for and why? 

I’m no Biko but I definitely write what I fucken like. I’m a creation evolving in a transitioning realm and it’s an interesting time to be alive! When I write, I often think: “Be who you needed when you were younger”.

Can you tell us a little about some of the projects you are working on?

Project, projection, projecting. This current season of my life requires a lot of study and practice —I’m primarily concerned with love and all its dimensions. I made a home and an escape out of this thing we call storytelling and so I’m consistently using it to relay my truths and discoveries. I love this quote: “I am a writer FIRST and if anything, anything at all is left I’ll be a womxn”.

You are based in Johannesburg?  What is your relationship with the city & how does that inform your work? 

I am born, bred and moulded by this city. I see each day as an opportunity to birth the reality of my dreams. The melting pot that is eGoli (City of Gold) equips you accordingly. For me, johustleburg made me a survivor. So yeah, I am persistent and unrelenting.

Stylistically, who are your biggest influences?

It is wide ranging; from R.L Stine, Archie comics, Oscar Wilde, Ma Gcina Mhlope to Dr Angelou’s poetry.

Currently I am captivated by Charles Dickens’ descriptive style of writing.

I read your piece on BloomPoetry; it is quite robust and beautiful. Do you care to speak about it a bit? Specifically this thought here:  So allow me to reintroduce myself: I AM THAT I AM. 

So allow me to reintroduce myself: I AM THAT I AM. Inspired by air, water, earth, fire by life and everything in it simultaneously. I’m inspired by death and it’s infinite nothings. I AM is the permanent presence of God of life, love, wisdom and all the ideas eternally in one’s divine mind.

It is an affirmation, a mantra, a statement that needs no validation. I AM what I decide I AM, after all am I not a creator? The trick isn’t in finding yourself, it is in the manifestation of the self you already believe yourself to be. I AM.

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