The timing of Lerato Tshabalala’s book is fascinating because it comes just after Yolisa Qunta edited We Write What We Like, and in the same vein adds to the spirit of the times when black people are voicing their dissatisfaction with the status quo from their vantage points.
The Way I See It is about the musings of a black woman in the rainbow nation – as the subtitle states. Tshabalala delves into the country’s political, social and cultural issues in a quirky, but honest way.
The book comes with warnings: Guaranteed to Offend! and Not for the Faint Hearted!
The controversy comes in how her truth sits with you.
You may not be prepared for how straightforward she is, especially when you have seen how poised she (and her language) seemed on previous editorial pages of True Love Magazine or Sunday Times Lifestyle magazine.
Here is Lerato being Lerato.
Yes, she swears, but her sensibility, wit and humanity come through.
As a journalist, Tshabalala is a black woman with work experience in corporate South Africa. She easily navigates and fits into the spaces from Soweto to the suburbs.
Although she has worked for high-profile media titles, which could somewhat elevate her status, she takes self-importance out of it and likens herself to you – self-motivated working South Africans. It also allows her the freedom to be authentically herself – to call out coloured Capetonians for not being better than black people; whites for not speaking an African language or her people for not following through on a job, as she does in the book.
That is Lerato Tshabalala for you. If you’ve been thinking it, she says it.
She doesn’t take herself too seriously and her tone is light, but she tackles some serious issues, including annoying car guards, white-dominated corporate South Africa, cultural stereotypes, economic and racial inequality and gender politics.
She is careful with how she treats these subjects and this is seen in how she rounds them up at the end of each chapter, where the poignancy of her voice and the well-meaning of the book come through.* The Way I See It by Lerato Tshabalala is published by Penguin