Radical Softenss as a Weapon for Liberation 

Qondiswa James 

"I will be brave in my ethical self. As I quest for liberation, I demand integrity to go with my serving of justice. As I strip myself, now understanding there is no purpose but to be here and choose it, I strip myself to first find on this physical body – chained here to this carcass on this land mass stillbreathing – how the human might be. From this body. How might the knuckled rings of the metal noose be unloosed from this body." 


Radical Softness as a Weapon for Liberation is a confessional work about free love trying to locate the intersections of class and gender within a context of black love. I asked myself something like, what does love have to do with freedom?, and could find expression of this only by beginning from myself, from my body. 

They Called Me Queer

Publisher: Kwela Books, 2019

ISBN: 079570965X, 9780795709654

Website: https://www.nb.co.za/en/view-book/?id=9780795709173   

Qondiswa James is a cultural worker living in Cape Town, South Africa. She is an award-winning theatre-maker, performance artist, film and theatre performer, instillation artist, writer, arts facilitator and activist. She is currently studying her Masters in Live Art, Interdisciplinary and Public Art at the Institute of Creative Arts. Her work engages the socio-political imagination towards mobilising transgression.

She has directed theatre works including Emhlab’Obomvu (National Arts Festival, 2016), Silindile (Theatre Arts Admin, 2018) and A Faint Patch of Light (nominated for Best New Director and Best Actor, Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards 2019 and winner of a 2019 Standard Bank Ovation Award) which she created under the Theatre Arts Admin Collective Emerging Theatre Directors Bursary 2018. In September 2019 she co-created a theatrical musical exploration, Tia Maji, with percussionist Bronwen Clacherty performed as part of the supranational project Re-Centering Afro Asia. In November 2019 she curated an intervention at Infecting the City Public Art Festival in Cape Town, Jailbed, directed by Thembela Madliki. In 2020 she staged her new original play A Howl in Makhanda at Cape Town School’s Festival at Artscape, and Virtual National Arts Festival. She, along with Mandla Mbothwe, co-curated the Malibongwe Women in Theatre Festival (Magnet Theatre 2020). Her onscreen appearances include the The Foxy Five (Shnitt 2017), Umva (MOMA New York 2017), Into Us and Ours (Cannes 2016) and High Fantasy (DIFF 2018 Best South African Film Award, Artistic Bravery Award), Letters from the Continent (Holland Festival 2021). Her debut instillation work with collaborator Themba Stewart was part of Spier Light Art Festival 2019/2020. Also in 2020 for Theatre Arts Admin’s 2m apart season, she co-wrote and directed two new plays, cwaka and uBumbano, as well as a third, Uhlazo, which she wrote, directed and performed in. She is currently working as a curator on the online stop-GBV+F campaign, Body of Evidence.