“This is not a story for the romanticisation of pain and perseverance, although it tells of overcoming many difficulties. It is a critique of secret violence in faith communities and families, and the hypocrisy that has damaged so many people still looking for a place and way to voice their trauma. This is a critique of the value placed on ritual and culture at the expense of human life and well-being, and the far-reaching consequences of systems of oppression dressed up as tradition.”
Jamil F. Khan is a critical diversity scholar, columnist and author. They are currently enrolled for a PhD in Critical Diversity Studies at the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies. Their work explores multiple axes of difference including race, gender, sexuality and class. As a columnist, their analysis of socio-political events shaping the South African landscape pulls no punches in speaking truth to power. Their published work includes a socio-political memoir, Khamr: The Makings of a Waterslams – winner of best biography at the 2021 Humanities and Social Sciences Awards, book chapters in Intersections of ageing, gender and sexualities (Polity Press, 2019), They Called Me Queer (Kwela, 2019) and Touch (Kwela, 2021) and scholarly articles on the subject of queer ageing in academic journals Sexualities and Agenda.
In their memoir which details their experiences from childhood to early adulthood, Khan writes with tenderness and vulnerability, the complicated realities of living in a so-called middle-class Coloured home in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town.
The detail of these memories is both jarring and reassuring as we watch Khan and examine the intersections of race, Islam and homophobia while they works through self discovery.
There is a deep examination of generational trauma and what pain is left as an inheritance in an environment of abuse and trauma.
Extending grace while holding their loved ones accountable is a theme which runs throughout the book and both challenges and comforts the reader in their own confrontation of the traumas of racism and homophobia.
In this episode, The Cheeky Natives sat with the talented Jamil F Khan to discuss what it means to memorialise your self and journey in memoir.