To whom it may concern,

Salaam. Good afternoon if it is afternoon where you are in the world. Dumelang. Sanibonani. Molo, kunjani? Go fish. I hope you are well family. Gravity has sparked a kind of unnerving stimulus in the supreme banality of the life of the leaf, in my own modernity, my cognition that is still so badly in need of repair, my intellectualism that is in need of a little (both) Brenda Fassie and Joy Division and enabling. My life has became an event that is in need of a daily planner.

As Sylvia Plath put it once in a poem of ennervating honesty, bold substance and titillating beauty, “the day is making effortless botanical drawings” with (in my own words) “efficiency, consistency and thorough care.” I am a scriptwriter now (plotting storylines and planning the profiles of characters that have been two decades in the making ever since I left NFTS (Newtown Film and Television School) opposite the late and great Barney Simon’s Market Theatre in the now world famous district of Newtown in Jozi (beloved Johannesburg to you and me and Gauteng on Google Maps). I write with energy and variety in varying genres.

I have two films in production (the one currently looking for funding to be made is one on domestic violence) and I have written a play on the forced removals during apartheid in South Africa. I am also working with Gqeberha filmmaker Raymond Mateza of Truth Squad Productions on a documentary on my father’s (Dr Ambrose Cato George’s) life. A school has been named after him here in the Northern Areas of Gqeberha where he was a principal for most of his adult life in a sub-economic area before he became a school inspector. He attended meditation classes with my mother at a local branch of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University. I remember watching Dadi Janki being interviewed by Noeleen (a well known South African talk show host) on television. So my evangelical training began interrupted by my studies.

The two sisters who saved me from taking my own life as a child were Sister Grace Grimsell (I don’t know much about her background or her own childhood only that both of these angels took me under their wing amd began to mentor me in earnest) and Sister Gita Loos from King Williams Town (the town where Black Consciousness Movement leader Stephen Bantu Biko hailed from). I wonder do they still remember me at all? Do they remember a mute, skinny-tall, awkward and gangly teenager who remembers not fitting in in high school, petrified-of-being-spoken-to interloper who is now a confident and mature Krotoa and Esther?

After lockdown, I realised I had to give a voice to mental health awareness and wellness in my writing. I also realised how much I wanted to talk and write and have enduring conversations about Africa and I wanted to use my own life experience to do that, that of my dysfunctional immediate family as a narrative as our stories have never been told yet. Let me explain. You have Chimamanda Adichie and Nadine Gordimer but not Abigail George who is a Coloured girl of mixed race origins from the Northern Areas of Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape, South Africa whose father was the principal of a high school in a sub-economic area and whose paternal great-grandfather was a stowaway on a Royal Mail Ship from St Helena where the Zulu King Cestswayo was imprisoned along with Napoleon. Both were forced into exile there. The Zulu King returned as the history books tell it to South Africa to continue the Royal bloodline and lineage of the Zulu Kingdom that stretches along the Natal coast to the border and some of the interior of Gauteng.

My latest book release is Letter To Petya Dubarova. It was released in August of this year in Australia and the districts of New Zealand. It was a Pick of the Week in The Sydney Morning Herald, Brisbane Times and The Age. The artist Phillipa Riddiford designed the striking cover for the book. I sure hope I can afford to buy her art one day. I have written a Special Report for Modern Diplomacy (“Scrapbook Of A Bipolar” detailing my mental break from reality due to stress, manic depression and burnout). I also contributed for an entire year to a symposium in Finland which is available for free download from the Ovi Bookstore as well as two e-books All About My Mother and Brother Wolf Sister Wren and other titles are available from Issuu. My first book was a slim poetry volume Africa Where Art Thou which questioned the eurocentric validity of the plunder of African soil followed by many other titles and one self-published collection of short stories Sleeping Under The Kitchen Tables In The Northern Areas. I have a blog African Renaissance found under Topics in moderndiplomacy.eu and another in the virtual space of Goodreads. I have also written columns for a national travel magazine and letters to the editor since I was a teenager.

Writing saved me as did embracing Islam. I learned empathy from my fellow brothers and sisters. You see I was hurt in the church. I was hurt by paternal family members who prayed for the human stain of me in secret because I was “mentally ill” and could not look after myself. I was never spoken to, never invited to family gatherings. In other words I was invisible. My cries for help were ignored. It was my mother whose prayers were answered by the Redeemer and because of that I am a seeker now for truth and enlightenment.

Thanking you for the time it has taken you to read this article and your consideration.

Allahu Akbar. To God all the glory.

Kindest Regards,

Abigail George

Abigail George

Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominated shortlisted and longlisted poet Abigail George is a recipient of four writing grants from the National Arts Council, the Centre for Book and ECPACC. She briefly studied film, writes for The Poet, is an editor at MMAP and Contributing Writer at African Writer. She is a blogger, essayist, writer of several short stories, novellas and has ventured out to write for film with two projects in development . She was recently interviewed for Sentinel, and the BBC.

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