Anelile Dlamini: The people’s publisher

We caught up with Anelile Dlamini-Gibixego, an author, writer, motivational speaker and founder of NoKurasa Publishing. She shared her journey in the publishing industry with us.

Who is Anelile?

Anelile Dlamini-Gibixego is a Pietermaritzburg-born author, mother and scientist. She is 31 years old. Anelile completed a Bachelor of Science in microbiology and cellular biology in 2011 from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and an Honours degree in environmental science at North-West University in 2017. In her day time, she is a researcher and environmental activist.

Since moving to Johannesburg in 2015, she has published her debut novel iGoli Dreams. She became a network builder, has published opinion pieces, spoken conferences and earned the title “motivational speaker”. Her passionate activism is against gender-based violence and discrimination. She identifies herself as an eco-feminist who embodies the oppression of nature within the oppression of women.

What do you do and what inspired you to go into your field of work?

I write because I know that literature lives beyond ourselves and I wanted my work and voice to form part of the future archives. This way, iGoli Dreams emanated as a response to the rising gender-based violence in our country. I aim to live a life of influence and to change humanity with the skills that I have.

After an unsavoury experience with my own publisher, I realised that there is a gap in the space. So I founded NoKurasa Publishing.

What do you make of the publishing space in South Africa?

The publishing industry in South Africa is a growing industry. However, it is not growing in the way it was established. The big publishers continue to dominate but we are seeing a rise in small publishers and self-publishing entering the industry. This has begun changing the types of books in bookstores, it has changed and expanded the reading population in the country.

What can or should be done to encourage more young black women to become authors and publishers?

We should encourage young women to read and write from a young age. Through reading stories with familiar characters and places encourages and affirms people that they matter. It shows that even their story is valid.

I categorically prioritise stories by women. I also challenge people to explore themselves through writing.

What have you learned from being a young, black, female in this space in South Africa?

I have learned plenty.

  • I show up for myself. No one owes me any support and encouragement.

After launching my company, I realised that I am the only person who has my vision, therefore I am the only one obligated to fight for it.

  • I have learned that there is enough space for everyone. Not everyone wants you to be in the space but we bulldoze until the space is taken up. There are spaces where we are excluded as young black self-published women in literature, I have learned not to be accepting of the exclusions. I call out, ask difficult questions and go to where the gatekeepers are, to ask for explanations.
  • Networking and partnerships are important, however, I have learned to think critically about which brands/businesses I want to be associated with.
  • Research is important. Being young, black AND woman there are several more eyes wanting you to perish than there are ones wanting you to succeed. So it is best to take the time and do thorough research. The standard is different for us. We must aim to deliver work of a good standard.

What have been the highlights and lowlights of your journey thus far?

The highlight has been launching NoKurasa Publishing in June 2019.

Lowlight has been falling for a scammer publisher who did very shady work in my book. I am still getting criticism on some of her work.

What drives you and what impact do you want to make in the world?

I have always wanted to live a life of significance. To inspire, to elevate the profile of black women. To never be alone at the top. My fear is getting to the top and not finding black women up there with me. It’s the worst nightmare. I believe in opening up the industry, and for as many of us to get in, get our hands dirty, try, fail, establish and eventually dominate. It is much overdue.

How do you want to be remembered?

As a black eco-feminist, scientist and storyteller. A thought leader. A loving mother.  I want to be remembered as, “the people’s publisher”, the one who took all stories and opened up the publishing space, decolonised it, demystified it and most importantly, ‘de-exclusified’ it.

Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you or any other ventures that you may be involved in?

In April 2020, my essay was published in an anthology published by Kwela. It is called “Living while feminist”. My essay is called is speaking on my feminism in the church.

For my next book project, we will be opening up to the people for submissions and contributions around the central theme “life ekasi”. This will be open to everyone. Submissions may be poetry, essays or short stories. People must subscribe to my website in order to get the call.

Where can people find or follow you?

What is the one piece of advice you’d give to young South African women who want to follow your path?

My advice is: Own your own things.

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