Munganyende Hélène Christelle
(Rwanda, 1993) is a writer, societal critic and co-host of the podcast Fufu & Dadels. The program discusses critical life questions such as feminism and gender roles, intercultural sisterhood and fuckboys, and traditions and sexuality. She grew up in Kigali and Eindhoven and studied political science in Brussels. She writes about feminism and the political emancipation of millennials with a migrant background in publications such as Vogue, Vileine and OneWorld. Together with other women of colour, Christelle founded IamSHERO. This foundation aims to show young Dutch women that everyone has opportunities. She wrote the following about her debut novel Vreemd fruit (Strange Fruit), to be published in 2021: "I strive to give a voice to young women growing up with the same complex migration history as mine. Young people who need to learn to move between displacement and homecoming."(WN 2021)
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"Joy is an act of resistance" is a slogan that is gaining traction. Can happiness be a form of activism? Is there such a thing as restful resistance? And why is self-care so important? These questions constituted the foundation of the final program of this first, online part of the Winternachten International Literature Festival 2021 - you ended up in a warm bath of radical inspiration.
"It's up to us": this emerges from the work of photographer Tyler Mitchell, whose summer 2019 exhibit I Can Make You Feel Good at the FOAM Photography Museum in Amsterdam was a sensitive ode to a "black utopia". Mitchell photographed young black people looking relaxed, sensitive and proud in idyllic settings. It was a beacon of hope for how things could look and a sharp contrast to the dominant images of black people in the media usually associated with strife, pain and violence.
Mitchell's work is one of the sources of inspiration for programme maker Fleur Jeras, together with the poetry of the South African poet and performer Koleka Putuma - especially her poem Black Joy from the volume Collective Amnesia. Poet Alfred Schaffer, who translated Putuma's poetry into Dutch for the magazine Terras, wrote the following in the magazine Groene Amsterdammer: "You could say that Putuma in looking for a way out of the impasse with Collective Amnesia; she must escape the expectations of both the white and black public. Love could be an escape route."
A fragment of the poem Black Joy by Koleka Putuma, from her collection Collective Amnesia:
That when they ask about black childhood,
all they are interested in is our pain,
as if the joy-parts were accidental.
I write love poems, too,
you only want to see my mouth torn open in protest,
as if my mouth were a wound
with pus and gangrene
Journalist Hassnae Bouazza talked about this poem with Putuma via an online connection from Capetown. We also brought you Putuma's work in other forms: poet Radna Fabias read from Putuma's work in their Dutch-language versions and singer-songwriter Bahghi and dancer Gil Gomes Leal presented new works inspired by Black Joy.
Additionally, poet Jens Meijen and writer-podcast maker Munganyende Hélène Christelle gave practical examples about how the create peace of mind and reflect on activism, a state of happiness and the future.
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