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Radical Happiness - #SoulCare

A program about happiness and activism with authors Koleka Putuma (South Africa), Jens Meijen (Belgium) and Radna Fabias, Munganyende Hélène Christelle, Hassnae Bouazza (moderator), singer Bahghi and dancer Gil Gomes Leal. English and Dutch spoken.


"Joy is an act of resistance" is a slogan that is gaining traction. Can happiness be a form of activism? Is there such a thing as restful resistance? And why is self-care so important? These questions constituted the foundation of the final program of the online part of the Winternachten International Literature Festival 2021 - you end up in a warm bath of radical inspiration.

1:04 - Koleka Putuma (South Africa), recitation.
3:13 - Radna Fabias (Netherlands), recitation I translated work by Koleka Putuma.
5:00 - Koleka Putuma, interview.
23:38 - Koleka Putuma, recitation.
24:48 - Radna Fabias, recitation II translated work by Koleka Putuma.
26:15 - Gil Gomes Leal, dance performance.
31:40 - Radna Fabias, interview.
42:31 - Bahghi (Netherlands), song performance.
45:42 - Munganyende Hélène Christelle (Netherlands), recitation and interview.
56:10 - Jens Meijen (Belgium), video reading.
1:01:19 - Radna Fabias, recitation III translated work by Koleka Putuma.

"It's up to us": this emerges from the work of photographer Tyler Mitchell, whose summer 2019 exhibit I Can Make You Feel Good at the FOAM Photography Museum in Amsterdam was a sensitive ode to a "black utopia". Mitchell photographed young black people looking relaxed, sensitive and proud in idyllic settings. It was a beacon of hope for how things could look and a sharp contrast to the dominant images of black people in the media usually associated with strife, pain and violence.

Mitchell's work is one of the sources of inspiration for programme maker Fleur Jeras, together with the poetry of the South African poet and performer Koleka Putuma - especially her poem Black Joy from the volume Collective Amnesia. Poet Alfred Schaffer, who translated Putuma's poetry into Dutch for the magazine Terras, wrote the following in the magazine Groene Amsterdammer: "You could say that Putuma in looking for a way out of the impasse with Collective Amnesia; she must escape the expectations of both the white and black public. Love could be an escape route."

A fragment of the poem Black Joy by Koleka Putuma, from her collection Collective Amnesia:

isn't funny?
That when they ask about black childhood,
all they are interested in is our pain,
as if the joy-parts were accidental.

I write love poems, too,
you only want to see my mouth torn open in protest,
as if my mouth were a wound
with pus and gangrene
for joy.

Journalist Hassnae Bouazza talked about this poem with Putuma via an online connection from Capetown. We also brought you Putuma's work in other forms: poet Radna Fabias read from Putuma's work in their Dutch-language versions and singer-songwriter Bahghi and dancer Gil Gomes Leal presented new works inspired by Black Joy.

Read here the three poems by Koleka Putuma.

Additionally, poet Jens Meijen and writer-podcast maker Munganyende Hélène Christelle gave practical examples about how the create peace of mind and reflect on activism, a state of happiness and the future.

Learn more here:


Hassnae Bouazza

Munganyende Hélène Christelle
Podcast Fufu & Dadels

Radna Fabias
Video: Radna Fabia recites in DichterBij (VPRO) her poem Roestplaats

Gil Gomes Leal
website: performance Ayahuasca by Gil Gomes Leal & ISH Dance Collective

Jens Meijen
Short story Kaddisj, publication in Hard//hoofd

Koleka Putuma
Video: Koleka Putuma recites from Collective Amnesia on the train from Kaapstad-Muizenburg