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Regina Twala was a towering intellectual and activist in Eswatini – but she was erased from history

Born in South Africa and exiled to neighbouring Eswatini, Regina Twala was one of southern Africa’s most important intellectuals: a pioneering writer, academic, political activist and feminist. Why, then, has she been all but forgotten? That’s the question a new book sets out to answer. In the process Written Out: The Silencing of Regina Gelana Twala restores Twala to her rightful place in history. We spoke with the book’s author, historian Joel Cabrita.

Who is Regina Twala and why is she important?
Regina Gelana Twala was a writer, anthropologist, social worker and political activist who lived in both South Africa and Eswatini (then Swaziland). She died in 1968 at the age of 60.

Twala broke the mould of what black women were meant to represent. She was just the second black woman to graduate from Johannesburg’s University of the Witwatersrand (in 1948) and the first to graduate in social science in South Africa. In a period dominated by male intellectuals, she was a formidable writer and thinker. One of few female contributors to southern African newspapers, she wrote hundreds of articles.

Her prolific output includes as many as five book manuscripts, almost all lost as Twala struggled to be published due to the racist gatekeeping mechanisms of apartheid-era South Africa.

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*The views of the above article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Africa Speaks 4 Africa or its editorial team.

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