Dr Thobile Sifunda joined Benito Vergotine on The Honest Truth, to tell us more about her book ” I refuse to be called black – Unapologetically African”.
Listen to the conversation here: I refuse to be called black – Unapologetically African
A SECOND LOOK AT AFRICA’S HISTORY AND A SECOND CHANCE FOR SOUTH AFRICA’S FUTURE
In her first book, KwaZulu-based psychologist Dr Thobile Sifunda will not only have you redefining your identity as a South African, but give you a textbook-style manual of effecting change from the inside out. Titled I refuse to be called black – Unapologetically African, this is a must-read for everyone who calls South Africa home.
In the current political climate, we can go from a politically-charged discussion about the state capture to an emotionally-uplifting heart-to-heart about #ImStaying in a matter of minutes. Such is the dichotomy of our complex nation.
In this unconventional book, Dr Sifunda’s style merges academic honesty with human truths, and her experience in the field of psychology, especially within the areas of identity and education, is abundantly clear. Between these pages, ground-breaking theories and ideologies intersperse her own life story to look at age-old topics through a fresh lens. As she takes the reader along her own journey of introspection and self-discovery by means of an intimately straightforward discussion, Dr Sifunda demonstrates a deep respect for her readers. At the same time, there are moments within this discussion where she holds a mirror to her readers, to you.
The result has the potential to shift paradigms and perceptions and to change lives. With these hard-to-swallow pills in mind, Anthony Miyeni, South African Ambassador to Mali, rightly describes the book as ‘not for your comfort, but for your enrichment’.
He explains, “The book releases latent energy that illuminates the present with bright light that shines on the vision of the future within our grasp.”
Dr Sifunda has a manner of addressing topics that redefines the very core of the subject, be it in the way she tackles apartheid, Ubuntu, a London Michelin-star restaurant, or traditional African weddings. Applying a method which she calls the ‘onion peel test’, Dr Sifunda asks as many questions as it takes to lead to the actual root of issues, even if it means addressing an elephant in the room. But by the end of the book, you will never think of certain words and terms in the same way again.
In her open and honest prose, Dr Sifunda says, “These tools assist us to engage openly with our blind spots post-apartheid.” And so with an analytical gaze and a multidisciplinary approach, she does just that.
But as much as Dr Sifunda tells her story in this book, she constantly reminds you that it is not only her story she is telling, it is your story, too. There are numerous psychological theories surrounding identity, be it from the well-known Freud, Piaget or Skinner. As seamlessly as she juxtaposes these with African identity theory, Dr Sifunda also compares what she learnt while studying at university with what she learnt from what she calls the ‘University of Life’. In the same vein, her use of quotes and references for further reading only enhances her transcribed life experiences as a psychologist who has worked in the education, social cohesion and nation-building space for years.
In Chapter 1, after considering reasons for her reader to either carry on reading or stop right there, Dr Sifunda says, “My appeal is that you take your thoughts further and think: is this you who is thinking the way you are thinking now or is it how you were socialised to think?”
Dr Sifunda’s literary debut balances every problem with a solution; moments of guilt with reasons to be proud; psychological metaphors with local colloquialisms – and overall, logic and fact with emotion and hope.
I refuse to be called black – Unapologetically African is out now!
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