For their April Badass Women issue, MARIE CLAIRE South Africa asked author, columnist, TV and radio presenter Redi Tlhabi to be their guest editor. Riana Howa spoke to her ...
Do you consider yourself a badass woman?
Absolutely I consider myself a badass woman. That’s the only way to be in order to survive, in order to make an impact, in order to have your voice heard. And I accept that title because it isn’t an aggressive or combatant title. All that it means is that I’m a woman who recognises that I have a bigger purpose, I have a role to play in society, I'm aware of the historic gender discrimination, I am aware of the lack of social justice in my society, and I need to use my platform, my power, my privileges to be a voice of reason, a voice of positive influence. That is my conceptualisation of badass women.
The Marie Claire is chock full of badass women. Who stands out for you?
It's very difficult to say because they all bring something unique, something positive and something different. So I will take somebody like Naledi Chirwa. She's a student, she's young, she's a feminist, she's an activist. She spoke at Winnie Mandela’s memorial this week and said something that really resonated with me and actually resonated with a lot of women and children in South Africa: that we can't breathe in our communities, in the taxis, in our homes because of gender-based violence. She’s a young woman who proves that dynamite comes in small sizes.
I love Lebo Mashile because she's used her art and talent to preach her political consciousness. The road between art and politics is not new, but it's very easy and very tempting to just be an entertainer. But with her work and words she forces us to think and reflect about our society.
Obviously Makhosi Khoza - because we live in an era where the easiest thing to do is political expediency and not stand up for the truth. To worry about your pay cheque, to worry about your position and your power. She didn't give a damn about any of that and stood up to the ANC when it was not fashionable to do so. I think I'm mindful of the fact that a lot of politicians are standing up now denouncing Zuma and his era but they're doing it now when it is safe. She did it when it was most unsafe to do that.
And then there's Wendy Appelbaum. She's wealthy but she’s not divorced from her society. And one of the things she did was to fight off these irresponsible credit lenders who are impoverishing workers. She just stood up and she fought them off. She also defied her own father in the boardroom. She is such an interesting woman with such a rich history, rich story and such a love for South Africa and that I admire.
A controversial choice in the Marie Claire badass women list is Zodwa Wabantu. What are your views on this young woman?
I think she was the right choice because really she is setting the rules for herself because she doesn’t give a damn. Her background, where she comes from - she should be stuck in menial work, unrecognisable and all of that, but she's tapping into something. She is offering the public what the public want. She’s a badass girl because she is not playing by the rules. She’s famous for attending events and I’m rooting for her. Why not? She must have gotten out there not expecting to commercialise whatever she is offering. She also has been cheeky with the way she dresses or doesn't dress. If people are willing to pay her to attend their functions because they know it will get their functions in the paper then I think she's a badass businesswoman. Good for her.
And then Winnie Madikizela-Mandela? Badass woman?
Of course, of course. She broke all the rules. Was she reckless? I think she was in some aspects. Was she complex? I think she was. But there is so much fierceness and strength and wisdom that came out of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and she used it for good.
Where I come from I remember a child being hit by a car and people not knowing what to do and someone in the crowd saying call Winnie Mandela and in no time she was there. People associated her with the kind of strength that is needed in times of crisis. Also, it was a given that Winnie only shows up when she's needed the most and I think that makes her badass.