DIE BOEK COVID Diaries saamgestel deur Professor Amanda Gouws en Olivia Ezeobi. Foto: Anton Jordaan.

Gedeelde Ervarings – COVID Diaries: Women’s Experience of the Pandemic

DEUR MARELI SWART

Prof Amanda Gouws, bekleër van die SARChI-leerstoel in genderpolitiek aan die Universiteit Stellenbosch (US) se departement politieke wetenskap, en me Olivia Ezeobi van die departement ekonomie het in 2021 COVID diaries: Women’s experience of the pandemic uitgegee. Die boek bestaan uit 35 essays wat verskeie vroue se ervarings van die pandemie in hulle eie woorde saamvat. Twee van die essays sal deur die HonsBA (Vertaling)-studente van 2021 in Afrikaans vertaal word wat deel vorm van hulle Internasionale Vertaaldag-projek met die tema: United in translation. Wat is dus ’n beter manier om mense deur vertaling te verenig as die vertaling van hierdie vroue se grendeltydstories? Die wêreld is deur die COVID-19-pandemie geruk en die impak daarvan is deur die individu sowel as die geheel ervaar. Die Matie-joernalis Mareli Swart het met Gouws oor COVID diaries gesels.

Watter impak dink u sal die stories op die Suid-Afrikaanse gemeenskap hê? Watter rol wil u hê moet die boek in Suid-Afrika vervul? 

Ek hoop dat mense hulle eie ervarings in die stories sal sien, dat hulle van die skrywers se ervarings in die boek sal kan eien. Die boek is ook ’n argief van dit wat gebeur tydens ’n globale pandemie waarvoor niemand voorbereid was nie. Dit boekstaaf hierdie tydperk in die samelewing.

Dink u die boek sal bydra tot die feministiese diskoers van die globale suide?

Ons hoop so, maar die boek spreek tot verskillende mense se omstandighede tydens [COVID-19] en sal dus ook wyer as die globale suide gelees kan word. Van ons skrywers woon in die VSA, Kanada en Engeland.

Sal u poog om die boek oorsee te bemark?

Ons sou graag wou. Dit is wel aanlyn beskikbaar.

Wie het met die idee vir die boek vorendag gekom, en hoe het julle die bydraende skrywers genader?

Die voorwoord vervat die boek se oorsprongstorie. Ek en Olivia was moeg vir die meningsopnames oor vroue se ervarings tydens die pandemie wat deur mans uitgevoer en statisties uitgedruk word. Ons wou aan vroue ’n stem gee sodat hulle hul eie stories kon vertel. Ons wou tekstuur aan [hulle] ervarings gee. Ons het aanlyn ’n oproep vir bydraes gedoen en altesaam 35 essays van oor die hele land en ’n paar uit die buiteland ontvang.

Hoe het u loopbaan begin as redigeerder/skrywer?

Ek is ’n opgeleide joernalis en het dit voor my akademiese loopbaan beoefen. Ek het elke tweede Dinsdag my eie kolom in Die Burger. As ’n akademikus is ’n mens die heeltyd besig om redigeerwerk te doen. Óf jou eie, óf die van jou studente. COVID diaries is my vierde geredigeerde boek.

Hoe het die grendeltyd u skryfwerk beïnvloed? Dink u u sou ooit daardie punt bereik het indien daar nie ’n grendeltyd was nie?

As ’n politieke wetenskaplike is daar baie om oor te skryf in Suid-Afrika – never a dull moment. Die pandemie het hierdie boek ontlok, maar my vorige boek [Nasty Women Talk Back (2018)] saam met Joy Watson, was oor die vroue-optogte nadat Donald Trump as president van die VSA verkies is. Ek sou wel minder tyd gehad het om ’n boek aan te pak as ons nie in grendeltyd was nie.

Watter raad het u vir jong redigeerders/skrywers?

Moenie bang wees om te skryf nie. Hoe meer jy skryf hoe makliker raak dit. Redigeerwerk benodig vaardigheid, so doen ’n kursus in redigering.

Hoekom het u juis besluit om die stories van vroue te publiseer? Watter rolle speel hierdie vroue in die samelewing?

Ons het belanggestel in vroue se ervarings, veral oor die groot las wat versorging op vroue se skouers plaas. Vroue het met mekaar gepraat oor hoe moeg hulle is, veral die vroue wie se kinders nog klein is en almal wat kinders tuis moes onderrig. Die skrywers kom van verskillende agtergronde, kulture, ouderdomme, en beoefen menige beroepe.

Hoe dink u sal die vertaling van die essays deur die HonsBA (Vertaling)-studente van 2021 tot die boek se publisiteit bydra? Dink julle die teks sal ’n wyer gemeenskap bereik? 

Ek dink definitief so. Ons wil graag hê dat Afrikaanssprekendes ons boek in [hulle] eie taal lees. Die twee vertaalde essays maak ’n bydrae hiertoe. Ek bedank die honneursstudente vir die vertaling van hierdie hoofstukke.

PPROF AMANDA GOUWS en Olivia Ezeobi by die bekendstelling van COVID Diaries. Foto: Anton Jordaan.

Shared experiences – COVID diaries: Women’s experience of the pandemic

BY MARELI SWART

In 2021 Professor Amanda Gouws and Olivia Ezeobi collaborated to produce COVID diaries: Women’s experience of the pandemic. The book consists of 35 essays which bring together the different experiences these women had during the pandemic. Two of the stories will be translated to Afrikaans as part of the 2021 BAHonours (Translation) students’ project for International Translation Day with the theme: United in translation. What is better than sharing the translated lockdown stories of these women? The whole world has been shaken to its core by the pandemic. Our experiences are as much individual as they are shared. Mareli Swart talked to professor Amanda Gouws about COVID diaries.

What do you think the impact of these stories will be on the South-African community? What role do you want the book to play in our country?

I hope that people will see their own experiences in the stories, that they will be able to identify with those of the authors. The book is also an archive of what happened during a global pandemic no one was prepared for. It chronicles this period in our society.

Do you think the book will contribute to the feminist discourse of the global South? 

We hope that it will, but the book talks of the human condition during COVID and therefore it can be read much further than the global South. Some of our authors are also currently living in the USA, Canada and England.

Will you try to promote the book overseas?

We would like to, but the book is also available online.

How and who formulated the idea of the book, and how did you approach contributing authors?

The book’s foreword shares its origin story. Olivia and I were tired of the opinion polls about women’s experiences during the pandemic which was done by men and expressed as statistics. We wanted to give women a voice with which they could share their stories. We wanted to share the feel, the texture of their experiences. We did a call online for contributions and we received a total of 35 essays from across South Africa and a few from abroad.

How did your career as an editor/writer start?

I am a trained journalist and practiced journalism before my academic career. I have my own centre page space in Die Burger every second Tuesday. As an academic you are constantly busy with editing work, either your own or that of your students. COVID diaries is my fourth edited book.

How did lockdown influence your writing? Do you think you would have reached that point in your writing if there was no lockdown?

As a political scientist there is a lot to write about in South Africa – never a dull moment. The pandemic evoked this book. I published my previous book, Nasty Women Talk Back  (2018), with Joy Watson and it was about the women’s marches after Donald Trump was elected as the President of the USA. I would have had less time to tackle a book if we didn’t have a lockdown.

What advice do you have for young editors/writers?

Don’t be afraid to write. The more you write the easier it gets. Editing work needs skill, so do a course in editing.

Why did you decide to publish the lockdown stories of women specifically? What roles do these women fulfil in society?

We were interested in women’s experiences, especially the enormous load care-giving places on the shoulders of women. Women talked to each other about how tired they were, especially the women whose children were still little and everyone who had to attempt to home school their children. The authors come from various backgrounds, cultures, ages, and practice different professions.

How do you think the translation by the 2021 BAHonours (Translation) students will contribute to the publicity of the book? Do you think the text will reach a wider audience as a result?

I definitely think so, we want Afrikaans readers to be able to read our book in their language. The two translated essays contribute to this. I want to thank the Honours students for translating these chapters.

SOME OF THE WRITERS that contributed to COVID Diaries at the book launch. Photo: Anton Jordaan.
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