African Feminist Profile: Amanda Hodgeson

1. Who is Amanda? (Where are you from? Where did you grow up? What do you miss the most about your childhood? What do you miss the least? I am from Johannesburg, born and bred. I lived in Soweto until I was about 5 and then my parents moved to the burbs (Fourways). I didn’t appreciate it at the time but I had a really good childhood. My parents were very open, very affectionate and instilled in me a sense of independence. I felt like my parents trusted my judgement and trusted that I knew what was best for me. Of course they provided guidance but I felt like they really trusted and believed in me. I miss not worrying about money yo! I miss having a roof and food without having to worry about how those things came about lol!
2. How did you come into your activism? Think of a moment, either of witnessing injustice or justice that made you realise that a different life can be lived in this earth. In 2014 I was going through a bit of an identity crisis. A lot of this was tied to a relationship I was in where I didn’t feel valued. I felt like my opinion didn’t matter, my thoughts didn’t matter and that what I wanted didn’t matter. And I wasn’t sure why. I often wondered what I was lacking in. In Feb 2014 I started working for an NGO that assisted survivors of GBV to access the criminal justice system and psychosocial services. We collaborated quite often with other organisations. Eventually we teamed up with the One in Nine Campaign and I met Kwezilomso Mbandazayo and Mpumi Sky Mathabela Ka-Sodiza. I fell in love with Feminist Activism and both of them on the spot. I don’t even remember what they said exactly but I remember feeling like they had the tools that adequately explained all the angst I had been feeling. They also had a ‘I give no fucks to bullshit’ aura that was infectious.
3. What inspires you daily? It can be people, it can be things? I am inspired by black women. I think one of the things that drew me to feminism and activism was the unconditional love and support of women who didn’t even know me. I felt sooo loved by them. And I still do. Black women inspire me on the daily. They, those I know and those I don’t, illicit crazy amounts of love in me that I did not know I was capable of.
4. Do you believe that the future we work hard to achieve is possible? What gives you hope? Of course!!! Of course!!! Or else why would we be doing the wonderful, but often fucking painful work of black feminist activisting? What gives me hope is the fact that (and this is stolen from Kumkani Siwisa and has to be my most favourite quote of all time) “Black Women everywhere are writing the books; making the art; having the sex; raking the coins; healing the people; thinking the ideas; sharing the joy; building the movements. Being the great, the greater and the greatest”. We’re doing the fucking most in the most brutal and dire of circumstances.
5. What can you absolutely not live without? Can black women be my answer for everything? I could not live without the support of these women in my life. Their love, their joy, their infectious laughter. I couldn’t live without that.
6. What is your favourite time of the day? Early in the morning when I get to light my candles and incense and meditate. When my thoughts aren’t censored and I can admit to myself things that I may not be able to at another time.
7. How can we strengthen our work as queer/feminist women/womxn/gnc people in Africa? With honesty. With ourselves and each other. We’re so good at recognising, critiquing, calling out, dismantling the patriarchy…out there. But we’re so deathly afraid of confronting each other. And I think we’re afraid for a number of (valid) reasons like being afraid of losing the only people you feel have your back, like being afraid of having your politics questioned and shot to shit, like being afraid of being silenced and excommunicated because your views go against the grain. We need to acknowledge and confront the violence that exists within our movement. I am afraid of what it means that we struggle so much to do it, and what it will mean if we don’t.
8. What would you do with a million dollars? Pay off my mother’s debt! Pay off mine. Take all the women I love on an all-expenses paid trip to a place with beautiful beaches and beautiful chalets on the beach and beautiful women. Provide core-don’t need no reporting- funding to black feminists and the black feminist organising. Randomly pay for black women’s fees, cars, houses, groceries, down time. How much do I have left?

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