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The Rainy Season - Maggie Messitt - <span class="date-display-single">06/04/2015 - 7:00pm</span>

The Rainy Season

06/04/2015 - 7:00pm

Central Library - Community Room 301

Step across the border of a former, apartheid-era homeland and into a community in the midst of change, caught between a traditional past and a western future, a racially charged history and a pseudo-democratic present. THE RAINY SEASON—a work of narrative nonfiction resulting from ten months of intense immersion and six years of reporting—introduces readers to the remote bushveld community of Rooiboklaagte and opens a window into the beautifully complicated reality of daily life in South Africa.


The Rainy Season tells the stories of three generations in the Rainbow Nation one decade after its first democratic elections. This multi-threaded narrative follows Regina, a tapestry weaver in her sixties, standing at the crossroads where her Catholic faith and the AIDS pandemic crash; Thoko, a middle-aged sangoma (traditional healer) taking steps to turn her shebeen into a fully licensed tavern; and Dankie, a young man taking his matriculation exams, coming of age as one of Mandela's Children, the first academic class educated entirely under democratic governance.


Home to Shangaan, Sotho, and Mozambican Tsonga families, Rooiboklaagte sits in a village where an outdoor butchery occupies an old petrol station and a funeral parlor sits in the attached garage. It’s a place where an AIDS education center sits across the street from a West African doctor selling cures for the pandemic. It’s where BMWs park outside of crumbling cement homes, and the availability of water changes with the day of the week. As the land shifts from dusty winter blond to lush summer green and back again, the duration of northeastern South Africa’s rainy season, Regina, Thoko, and Dankie all face the challenges and possibilities of the new South Africa.

Maggie Messitt

About Presenter Maggie Messitt


Maggie Messitt, an independent narrative and immersion journalist, has spent the last decade reporting from inside underserved communities in southern Africa and middle America. Typically focused on complex issues through the lens of every day life, her work is deeply invested in rural regions, social justice, and environmental sustainability.


A dual-citizen, Messitt lived in northeastern South Africa, from 2003 to 2011. During this time, she was the founding director of a writing school for rural African women, editor of its community newspaper and international magazine, and a freelance reporter. Since returning to the United States, her reportage has been recognized by Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies; she was awarded a Multimedia Reporting Fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center, UC-Berkeley; and she was named a Kenyon Review Peter Taylor Fellow.


Messitt currently resides in southeast Ohio where she’s completing her doctorate in Creative Nonfiction and working on her next book, a hybrid of memoir and investigation. When she's not teaching or writing, she spends her time exploring the foothills of Appalachia, kayaking the Ohio River, and collecting stories in places you'll never visit.  


The Rainy Season is her first book.


The Rainy Season

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