Kimberly Burge is a Sojourners contributing writer and author of The Born Frees: Writing with the Girls of Gugulethu, about girls growing up in post-apartheid South Africa, which will be published in August.
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Flags Change. Then What?
Flags are only symbols, of course. Chucking one for another does not automatically overhaul a society’s deeply entrenched structural oppression. Lowering a flag and relegating it, belatedly, to a museum does not change people’s hearts and minds. Under South Africa’s new flag, the Born Frees are inheriting a country awash in contradiction. How free can this generation be with one of the highest levels of income inequality in the world? With the rampant violence that especially plagues black townships and is frequently directed against women and girls? With the remnants of a broken school system that was not designed to educate all its citizens equally?
Songs Before the Cataclysm
How a punk-rock drummer came to love ancient Syrian spiritual music.
A Farm Grows in Brookland
Gail Taylor hopes that Three Part Harmony Farm in D.C. Brookland neighborhood becomes the city's first commercial farm since the 1930s.
The Innocence List
There are many reasons to abolish the death penalty. Innocents on death row may be the most compelling.
'You Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock!': The Daughters of South Africa Speak Out
This creative writing club in Gugulethu, a township 10 miles outside Cape Town, South Africa, drew together nearly two dozen expressive girls, ages 13 through 20, each week for a year. With the help of a prompt -- a phrase or a short piece of writing to get started -- together the girls and I wrote. Like athletes in training, we built up from an initial three minutes of writing to, eventually, 20 minutes and sometimes longer when they asked for more time. Then we would go around the circle where we sat and read aloud what each of us wrote.
One week, the girls collectively wrote their manifesto (below), and staged a reading when the Flip camera came out. Then Sharon added her own contribution, "Proudly South African" (to hear her read, click here). She's now enrolled in her first year studying psychology at the University of Cape Town. I'm secretly hoping she switches to journalism.
'Your Daughters Will Prophesy'
In the new South Africa, the future is speaking in the voices of the girls.
Songs For Hard Times
The Better Angels, by John Francis. Horse and Rider/Dualtone.
Pray the Devil Back to Hell, by Gini Reticker and Abigail E. Disney.
Through the Laughter and the Tears
Uwem Akpan, a Jesuit from Nigeria, tells stories about Africa through its children, creating rich and complex characters that capture the heartbreaking realities of growing up in the midst of war and poverty.
Living with AIDS
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