Young writer tackles sensitive women’s issues

Siyanda Kakana of Gugulethu.

I’m burdened by my vagina. This is but one of many hard-hitting comments included in a recently published book titled Nudes: Addressing and undressing my truth, written by a 25-year-old Gugulethu woman, Siyanda Kakana.

With the nation celebrating Women’s Month, the University of the Western Cape (UWC) graduate said she wanted to empower other women to understand and better deal with their challenges.

The book explores and unpacks her emotions and the challenges she has faced in her life.

It is a collection of poetry, prayers and short pieces in which she speaks openly about subjects that people would normally chose to ignore.

In an interview with Vukani, the former Garden’s Commercial High School pupil said she grew up watching the men she loved and admired, abuse the women she loved. She also noticed how the abuse of women was normalised in the township by people’s lack of action when they saw or overheard a violent altercation between men and women.

Now as a trainee accountant at an auditing firm in Cape Town, the BCom graduate said she decided to write the book after coming across the diaries, in which she had documented just about everything while she was growing up.

“I could not believe that I wrote some of the pieces I wrote,” she said.

Ms Kakana said after talking to her sister about her idea, she then decided to put it out in the public domain.

“It was not easy. There was a lot of fear and I cried a lot,” she said.

But, she added: “The desire to publish was much greater that the fear itself. That is when I learnt to pray. That helped my healing process.”

Ms Kakana said thousands of women across the nation faced challenges similar to those she faced as a child who witnessed and experienced abuse. However, she was ashamed to talk openly about them, which ultimately perpetuates the abuse.

“I am admitting to the world that these are my struggles,” she said, adding that she expected to get both positive and negative feedback from the public.

Among other things, Ms Kakana, who has a two-year-old child, urges women not to sacrifice their livelihood to please their partners because this can also negatively impact their children. She said another difficult decision had been to talk openly about her ordeal and the decision to write the book. “The thing is you do not want to bring shame to the people you love,” she said.

“My opening up helped me to move on.”

Ms Kakana attributes her strong personality to the woman who raised her. “My mother has always encouraged forgiveness. Holding a grudge ruins you,” she said.

“I believe that everything happens to strengthen us. When you are in a situation, you think you are alone, but you are not alone,” she said.

Today, Ms Kakana has forgiven the men who’ve mistreated her and she has forgiven herself too. She added that women should understand that relationships are not centred around sex and money.

The book is available exclusively from