News from the Consulate - Cape Town
African–American Poet Cultural Ambassador Heats Up a Wet and Cold Cape Town
African-American professor, writer and poet Dr. Brenda Flanagan bedazzled audiences in a wet and cold Cape Town with stories, poetry and snippets of song. Flanagan toured Cape Town area schools and libraries June 21 and 22.
Not only did Flanagan present her works and those of others she admires, she also took time to inspire high school learners and young adults, sharing her personal struggles of growing up in Trinidad and Tobago and life in the United States. Her message was clear, “if you believe in yourself and dream big, you can achieve all that you set your sights on, no matter what your circumstances.”
She shared with audiences how she was forced to drop out of high school. Undaunted, and with the help of others, she was determined to go back to school and become a writer. Through all the hardships and obstacles she faced, she managed to do just that.
Learners at COSAT (Centre for Science and Technology) high school in the township of Khayelitsha responded enthusiastically to excerpts from Flanagan’s books, including In Praise of Island Women & Other Crimes. She also performed a poem by Nikki Giovanni, “Beautiful Black Men” and Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Women.”
Dr. Flanagan has won numerous awards for her fiction and drama, and frequently serves as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State. She has visited to Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Chad, Panama, India, and now South Africa.
The two day program covered two libraries and a school in the township of Khayelitsha, the American Corner at Cape Town’s Central Library and some volunteer work at The Bookery (a non-governmental organization that accepts book donations for school libraries). The visit included a wide-ranging interview by Nancy Richardson on SAFM’s talk show “Otherwise”. Concluding the busy tour, Dr. Flanagan participated in an interactive program at the University of the Western Cape, where she listened to both faculty and students present their works and shared insights