“The word ‘warrior’ immediately conjures up visions of war and combat for me, which is deeply linked to empire, something that still haunts queer people all over the world every day. And while I appreciate the ways in which queer people battle injustice, prejudice, discrimination and death everyday, I’m also wary of absorbing the language of violence into my world uncritically, especially when I’m thinking about my own role and work within it.”
Maneo Refiloe Mohale is a South African writer, editor and poet. Their debut collection of poetry, Everything is a Deathly Flower, published by uHlanga Press in 2019, was shortlisted for the Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize. They were the youngest finalist that year.
Mohale’s way with words, illustrated in the quote above is exactly why they have been nominated on this list. Their work pushes past what is assumed and instead allows readers into work that Mohale does, carving space in which a queer chorus of voices intentionally tells a holistic queer experience.
For Mohale, queerness feels like building a home for themselves and their loves, where they can be safe and access a specific kind of freedom.
And to the youngsters looking to access that sort of freedom Mohale says, “You’re already so wise, and so beautiful, and so powerful. Once you trust this, or at least begin to, reach for us, we’re here.”
Words: Tshegofatso Senne