Clinton once said, “it takes a village to raise a child.” And she was partly correct. Modern women also need role models who give them an idea, an aspirational benchmark if you will, to understand what is possible and that anything is within your grasp if you work hard enough and bend the rules to match your own game. For me, there can be no better benchmark than Refilwe Moloto, a child of Africa and citizen of the world, who has built an enviable career on her own terms. We caught up with Refilwe over a dirty gin martini to find out a little more about what makes her … her.
What is your favourite memory from childhood?
I think my birthday parties. My mom made sure they were celebrated with so much pomp and ceremony – a big, mixed group of friends and family, screaming and laughter, belly-flops and races in the pool, spontaneous sleepovers, braais and beers for the parents… My folks were fantastic hosts.
What do you love about living in Cape Town?
The lifestyle mix. It’s a metropolis within a holiday. Or a holiday within a metropolis. It’s important for balance.
Also, you can be left alone – whereas I think the all-business all-network nature of a place like Joburg, for example, subjects one to constant prying (competitive?) eyes.
If you someday were to pen your autobiography, what would the title be?
“What is maybe…?”
What is the one thing about your background and culture that you wish people knew?
How irreverent and self-aware we are. I don’t think people are always aware how much we self-check and laugh at one another – in a very loving, knowing way. Our irreverence allows us to poke fun at one another about things we know we ALL do within the culture. And it somehow applies across continents.
The nature of our engagement with other cultures – races – can keep them quite uptight or nervous around certain topics, so they either miss the joke or deliberately “look away” on any topic. It’s nuanced because I’d love for them to understand, but not everyone is allowed to laugh at every joke… you feel me?
I think that’s why a nebulous but united & solid construct like “Black Twitter” remains quizzical to many.
Which trend do you never get tired of?
If you were an emoji, which one would you be and why?
The one laughing with eyes closed but no tears.
That one lets out one loud guffaw.
That one is laughing at you… or itself.
Favourite song to sing in the shower (before we had water restrictions)?
Anything by Emeli Sande. Any one of her power hits on any day… and probably “Breathing Under Water” or “Sweet Architect” when we need to dig deep.
What’s the deal about living in Zamunda?
So, here’s the other favourite memory of my childhood: my family rented Coming to America *so* often, even my dad can anticipate lines. So there’s almost always a reference to that film in our lives and experiences. Zamunda was a particularly special ‘inside joke’ of blackness across continents that I think is quite universal – we could laugh both at the generalised portrayals of “Africa” by black Americans, and the very real “fish out of water” experiences of Africans in America as we understood it to be. It’s a beautiful film. We are Kings and Queens. Zamunda is my home and my kingdom.
You’re having lunch with Emmanuel Macron, what is the first thing you ask him?
“So, when are we delinking our CAF currencies from the Euro and getting our colonial “tax” back…?” *sips award-winning African MCC*
In your opinion, what does it mean to be a woman in this day and age?
It means what “being a man” did in previous days and ages. A global realisation of which one the true fairer, more fragile, emotionally unreliable gender is, has coincided with women’s self-actualization within a more welcoming society.
Many remain resistant, though. Some violently so.
So you float between celebrating the beauty and power of your womanhood and defending it fiercely, in order to defend your family, your community, and society as a whole.
In this day and age, it has been a painful but affirming realisation: We are the only ones we can rely on.