The Born Frees (Hardcover)
Writing with the Girls of Gugulethu
W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393239164, 384pp.
Publication Date: August 3, 2015
Born into post-apartheid South Africa, the young women of the townships around Cape Town still face daunting challenges. Their families and communities have been ravaged by poverty, violence, sexual abuse, and AIDS. Yet, as Kimberly Burge discovered when she set up a writing group in the township of Gugulethu, the spirit of these girls outshines their circumstances.
Girls such as irrepressible Annasuena, whose late mother was one of South Africa's most celebrated singers; bubbly Sharon, already career-bound; and shy Ntombi, determined to finish high school and pursue further studies, find reassurance and courage in writing. Together they also find temporary escape from the travails of their lives, anxieties beyond boyfriends and futures: for some of them, worries that include HIV medication regimens, conflicts with indifferent guardians, struggles with depression. Driven by a desire to claim their own voices and define themselves, their writing in the group Amazw'Entombi, "Voices of the Girls," provides a lodestar for what freedom might mean.