Tossie van Tonder will launch her memoir/journal My African Heart at Ike's Books on Wednesday 27 August at 6pm.
About the author
Tossie van Tonder aka NOBONKE, born in 1955, is a critically acclaimed and respected South African pioneer and mentor in dance theatre and performance. As dancer she spans philosophy, science and art and as a clinical psychologist, gender scholar and eco-philosopher she delves into identity formation and ecological issues with deep-rooted value-dissecting excursions.
My African Heart, is Van Tonder’s first book. This is an intensely personal and poetic South African story. It is told in an intimate conversation between a South African mother and unborn child and depicts the inner world of the best of being South African, inclusive of a relational depth at the end of the age of Apartheid.
As dancer-storyteller Van Tonder also explores socio-ecological challenges through profound creativity and innovation. Parenthood, ecological transformation, leadership, life skills and elderhood are some of the themes that her work addresses in groups with organisations and public groups of youth and adults. As a dancer she spans philosophy, science and art and as a clinical psychologist, gender and African scholar and eco-philosopher she delves into identity formation and ecological issues with deep-rooted value-dissecting excursions. During the 1980’s Tossie van Tonder brought in a breath of fresh air into the dance world and particularly so in Durban. Her works were powerful, primordial, displaying the archetype of the dancer to a visceral degree for theatre-goers. Last month at the Grahamstown Festival and during her 60th year she performed a solo work on the ecological extremes of human existence in What does the earth think it is?, a work placed at the top five performances in Cape Town 2014 by critic Tracey Saunders.
About the book
Against the backdrop of racial tension and sincere attempts to overcome these within the intricate fabric of South African politics and society, a woman’s journey towards herself as South African, White, Afrikaans, dancer, lover and mother gets to the heart of being African.
Once an Umkhonto we Sizwe fighter and political prisoner, her husband and the father of her child is a man whose political struggle is “like a fever burning beyond the intention to alarm, protect, conceal, reveal, purge or heal.”
The narrative is based on 20 years of journal writing, depicting the complex nature and the sensitive nuances of a mixed-race relationship just before the end of the age of apartheid, encapsulating the hopes and fears of a new future. Three voices speak: the author as apartheid child; the pregnant mother, writer and dancer whose inner world becomes her visceral reality; and her child in utero, communicating with an astonishing heart of wisdom. They weave a tapestry of complex relations, diverse and subjective explorations of transformation and reconciliation, thoughtfully defining race for its uniqueness and awakening spirit.